Ever heard of a little thing called the Bronze Age? Bronze is such a defining metal of civilization that an entire epoch of human history is named after it!
Between 3300 BC and 1200 BC, people made everything from brass—from statues to cooking pots. True brass, though also boasting a copper composition like its ancient cousin, wasn’t invented until the post-medieval period.
If you’re an artist trying to decide between bronze vs. brass for your next sculpture or construction, read on. We dive into the pros and cons of these attractive copper alloys.
Pros and Cons of Bronze in Artwork
Brass is a historically significant metal, and as such, its properties are well known by most metalworkers. Whether you decide to use it often comes down to price and aesthetic considerations.
Whether you’re choosing a bronze statue or crafting a planter for your succulent collection, bronze is a durable choice. In fact, archeologists are still pulling intact bronze creations out of the ground that were made thousands of years ago.
Cast bronze is stronger and more corrosion resistant than iron or copper, and it conducts electricity and heat better than most types of steel. You may even have a copper-bottomed pot in your kitchen arsenal!
It’s also beautiful, boasting a red-tinged hue that gives a distinctive luxury vibe to any artwork. Not least because bronze is expensive, coming in at about $1.25 per pound right now.
Due to its unique metal composition, bronze is susceptible to so-called bronze disease. When chloride and oxygen combine with humidity in the atmosphere, the mixture burns lime green spots into a bronze object.
This means you may have to lacquer your bronze creations to ensure they’re protected from this rare yet serious form of corrosion.
Bronze is also durable enough not to break or snap when bent, yet it’s so soft that it dents or scratches easily.
Pros and Cons of Brass in Artwork
Just like bronze, brass is one of the more malleable metals in use today. That’s why it’s a good option for metalwork artists looking for material as beautiful as it is workable. But this pink-hued metal isn’t all roses.
Brass has the beautiful golden hue of bronze and looks beautiful aged (with a rustic “patina”) or new (with a polished shine). It’s priced far cheaper than other golden-hued metals—like gold. And, like bronze, it’s highly resistant to corrosion and rust.
Best of all, its low melting point makes it perfect for casting work, making it a favorite of sculpture and jewelry artists.
Brass is generally more expensive to buy than bronze. The resale value of clean yellow brass is around $2.25 per pound.
If you want to retain the gleaming sheen of polished brass, it needs to be buffed regularly. It’s also often finished with nickel or other additives, making it non-hypoallergenic.
Bronze vs. Brass: It’s a Matter of Preference
Bronze and brass are such similar metals—from melting point to luster—that you might have difficulty choosing between them. If you’re deciding between bronze vs. brass, it’ll likely come down to how much money you have (brass is the more expensive of the two metals) and whether you’re interested in the history of the metal or not.
Are you a budding or an experienced artist looking for more helpful advice? Browse the other articles on our blog.