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Choice of Bronze or Pewter for Sculpture Awards

When we set out to create a new custom cast metal sculpture award (as opposed to a fabricated, glass, wood, or crystal award), one of the initial decisions that need to be made is what metal to use for the award. The two most popular metals for sculpture awards are bronze and pewter.

Both metals are alloys, meaning they are composed of different types of base metals. Both bronze and pewter are primarily composed of cooper and tin. They contain different ratios of these base metals, however, and that is the defining element in their applicability to different types of awards.

Bronze is mostly cooper, and is alloyed with a small amount of tin. Pewter, conversely, is mostly tin, and is alloyed with a small amount of cooper. These ratios mean that bronze is a heaver, denser metal, while pewter is a lighter, softer metal.

Additionally, the casting process is more complex for bronze than pewter, and this is one of the key reasons why bronze sculptures tend to be more expensive to produce than pewter sculptures. This is explained in more detail here: Award Production.

The key differences in the metals, and their influence on their appropriateness for specific awards, is outlined below:

Price

The additional steps in the bronze casting process usually result in a higher price for bronze awards than for pewter awards.

Durability

Since bronze is a harder metal, it tends to be more durable than pewter. If an award is going to be exposed to a lot of “wear and tear”, bronze may be the best choice. If not, pewter would offer a sufficient degree of durability for the vast majority of cases.

Design Fit

Since bronze is a harder metal, it can be “finished” (grinded and buffed) to a greater degree. This means that bronze may be a better choice for award designs that feature sharp edges and precise geometric shapes. Pewter, as a softer metal, may be a better choice for designs that are “softer” and more organic.Size

Size

For very large sculpture awards, bronze works best. The size limit for single-piece castings (meaning no reassembly is required after casting) is larger for bronze than pewter. For really large awards that must be case in multiple pieces then reassembled, bronze is an easier material to weld back together and finish with no degradation to the original design. 

Color And Finish

Both metals lend themselves to different colors and finishes. The natural color of cast pewter is a lustrous silvery grey. The natural color of cast bronze is a coppery brown. Pewter can be painted or plated in a variety of metals, most often silver or gold, or finished to its natural brushed pewter color. Bronze can be polished until it is shiny and gold in color, or colored via patina, which can create a broad spectrum of colors and patterns.