I can, and do, make my sculptures out of various metals if
the client prefers. However, my metal of choice is bronze. I, like many
thousands of artists before me, prefer bronze because of its unique
properties. Ever since the lost wax process was developed, artists have
chosen bronze for its structural strength, permanence, and resistance to
corrosion. The lost wax process of bronze casting allows the metal to
pick up the intricate modeling and detailing that I put into my
sculptures. The reproductive quality is first rate.
Because the lost wax or "cire-perdue" process is a key
element in the creation of my sculptures, I have chosen to give a
general description of this very involved process. Every step must be
done with precision for the next step to be as good as it can be.
Simply described, the lost wax process is pouring of
molten metal into a mold or shell. The first step is to make a mold of
the original sculpture (Picture #1). The mold will be used to "pull" as
many waxes as there will be reproductions of the artist's work. For
example, in a commission situation there will only be one pulled.
Once the mold is made, melted wax is poured into the
mold. The excess wax is poured out of the mold leaving only a thin
coating of wax on the inside of the mold. The wax
(picture #2, 3) is allowed to cool.
After it has hardened, the wax copy of the
original artwork is cleaned up. Seam lines and other imperfections are
worked to bring it as close to the original work as possible. Once this
is completed, an intricate system of wax rods (picture #4) are attached
to the wax sculpture. These rods serve the purpose of allowing the
molten bronze to flow freely into the final mold or "shell." The purpose
of the shell (picture #5) is to encase the molten metal in a fireproof
"jacket." This shell is built up around and inside the wax in several
layers. Once this process is completed the entire wax/shell object is
put into a burn-out oven..
The heat in the oven melts the wax and
leaves a cavity in the shell where the metal will eventually be poured.
The metal is heated to around 2100 degrees. It is then carefully
poured (picture #6) into the empty shell. After allowing the metal to
cool, the shell is broken away from the solidified bronze. The metal
sculpture is then "chased." Chasing (picture #7) is the process of
welding seams, sanding, and polishing the sculpture to a point where it
is indistinguishable from the original. If the sculpture is to be
colored or patinaed (picture #8 ) the color is then applied. The color
options are numerous. Once the sculpture is completed to my very
critical specification, I sign and number it to insure its authenticity.
I have chosen to give details about the
lost wax process in order to give you a better idea of how labor
intensive this very important process is. In order to create sculptural
works that stand the test of time, with the kind of quality and
sensitivity that I demand this process must be done carefully. It is a
painstaking process that ultimately creates a sculpture that I am proud
to sign as my own.