As an artist working in bronze, often I have multiple pieces in process. "What does that mean?". you ask. Well that means that I may have a piece of work in clay that you can have customized to your liking or you could save by purchasing in the pre-cast stage!
For anyone who is unfamiliar with the process, I would love to share the basics with you. Below are the steps that I follow to get to the finished product. You can also see some of my work in process on my instagram page.
Forming the idea - Most often this starts well in advance of the time my hands touch the first piece clay or build an armature.
Building an armature - The original concept is formed from an oil based clay. This means that the larger the piece, the heavier it becomes. To ensure the stability and flexibility of the form, I start by creating a frame work to attach the clay.
Modeling - This is where the concept starts to become reality. I build up the basic silohuette and start to model the piece into the vision. Often things start to change and evolve in this stage. Light, shape and composition become the driving force. This could take days, months or years.
Molding - Once the clay maquette has been finalized, the piece is molded in silicone and fiberglass in preparation for the first wax.
Wax - Using the mold, a hollow wax replica of the original clay maquette is made.
Investment Mold - The wax is now layered in a silica compound creating a ceramic shell and is fired in a very hot kiln. This process melts the wax, hardens the ceramic shell and creates a cavity to pour the molten bronze in.
Finishing Process - Once the bronze has cooled, the investment mold (ceramic) is shattered and the bronze will be sandblasted to finish the clean up.
Final Assembly - Often the work is cast in multiple pieces and must be re-attached by soldering the bronze together and then "chasing" the weld joints to create a seamless finished piece.
Patina - Now that the piece complete, we heat the bronze and apply a variety of chemicals to create the final coloring. The last step is a fine coat of hot wax applied to the still warm sculpture and then buffing the piece.
Timeline - I have shared this basic overview of the process as a way to communicate the amount of time it takes to complete a bronze sculpture. On average, my pieces take approximately 6 months to complete. I have done several in 3 months and a few are still a work in process after 3 years!