I make an Armature which provides the skeleton over which I work in soft wax or clay. Small, simple shapes can be translated into bronze without a mould, but for the most part it’s off to the Foundry for a silicone rubber mould to be taken. A fiberglass jacket fits around it.
From that, an exact copy of my sculpture is produced in casting wax which is hollow and seam-lined. I inspect it and repair any defects then it is Sprued-up* ready for Investment.**
The mould is fired and the casting wax drains away leaving a hollow for the bronze to be poured into. It is left to cool overnight, then the ceramic is smashed off to reveal the sculpture inside.
It’s so exciting to see the ‘birth’. The sculpture comes out gleaming like gold, but as oxygen bites it, it gradually turns dull and so is Patinated which involves heating it with a blow torch and painting it with chemicals to achieve the desired colour, anything from black to the classic chocolate brown or verdigris. It can also be painted for a more realistic finish if, for instance, I want to copy a dog’s markings.
A coat of wax, either matt or shiny, and it’s ready!
I make each sculpture in editions of 10 or 12, but if it is a commission then there will only be one made, unless the commissioner would like more.
It usually takes me several weeks to work the wax up until I’m happy with it, and lead times for casting at the Foundry can be fairly lengthy, twelve weeks or so sometimes, but it’s so worth waiting for!
*Sprue tunnels enable the bronze to travel down and the air to travel up.
** Investment is a ceramic coat poured over the whole sculpture, creating a one-time lost-wax mould.