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  • We are frequently asked, "How is a bronze sculpture created?" The answer is simple - by the "lost wax" process - but the process itself is far from simple. It requires the creative skills of an artist and foundry experts. Here is a simplified description of the extremely complicated "lost wax" process.

    The "lost wax" process predates the Greek and Roman civilizations and is at least 6,000 years old. It remains today as the best method of casting a classic and durable metal sculpture that captures the image of the artist's original sculpture. The artist usually creates the original sculpture in clay or wax. Depending on size, a sculpture can be cast as a whole or cut into pieces.

    A mold is made directly onto the original sculpture with several layers of liquid rubber and then plaster for support. The rubber mold is removed and filled with a thin layer of wax. When cool, the rubber mold is pulled away from the wax. The hardened wax duplicate is carefully hand-finished and any parts are reattached to replicate the original. The rubber mold is saved and used later for an edition of multiple originals.

    Wax gates or sprues are attached to critical points on the wax replica in a manner resembling arteries. Later, when the wax is "lost", these gates become the avenues for the molten metal to flow into the piece.

    A ceramic shell is built up around the wax replica by dipping it into a slurry mixture, coating it with a fine sand and letting it dry. This process is repeated several times. The wax replica, with its heavy shell coating, is then steam heated, melting out all of the wax and leaving only a hollow shell. This is where the "lost wax" term applies.

    After the shell is heated in a kiln, melted bronze metal is poured in the hollow cavity within the shell. Once the metal is cool, the ceramic shell is removed by sandblasting and the sprues are cut off.

    All pieces are carefully realigned and welded back together until the bronze is identical to the original work. Imperfections to the surface and welded seams are repaired with special tools in a process known as "chasing".

    The artist determines the patina or coloration of the bronze, which is the final phase in the process. The patina is achieved by applying heat and various chemicals to the piece. When the piece cools, it has its permanent color. A bronze sculpture may be placed on or attached to a stone, wood, or metal base. The final touch is often the display of the bronze on an elegant pedestal.

    Displaying Your Sculpture on a Pedestal

    Light and motion will readily attract the eye to your beautiful sculpture. Placing your sculpture on a pedestal that is lit from below with a motorized rotating top is an ultimate display technique. Contact us for sources for all types of fine quality sculpture pedestals.

  • References:
    The Lost Wax Process, Loveland Sculpture Works and Columbine Gallery; How to Display Your Sculpture, Zella Jackson.

   

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