To help our customers better understand our work, we’ve put together a description of our sculpture process. This has been very handy for people wanting to learn what is involved, from start to finish. For your particular needs, please contact us so we can walk you through details about your particular sculpture project!
Phase 1: Building our framework
- Once the design is decided upon I must build an armature or frame to hold the clay, which I use to create my sculptures. I start with a steel skeleton, a steel frame and a wooden base to hold the armature.
- To the steel skeleton or armature I add plywood and foam blocks to fill out the form.
- I glue and screw the foam to the armature.
- I add foam to the arms which are made of steel pipe and wire.
- I position the arms and start to shape the foam and add oil clay to the form.
- I cover the entire statue with clay and add more detail.
Phase 2: Clay Details
- I remove the head and work on it separately. It is easier to work on the statues head on a table rather than having to hold my arm in the air for the long periods of time needed to complete the statue.
- I keep adding detail till I am satisfied with the statue.
- Here my brother (on the right) and I load the statue to take it to the foundry.
- The clay statue must be sectioned off to make moulds of the statue.
- Metal shims are attached to the clay.
Phase 3: Molding the Sculpture
- The statue is laid down to make it easier to form the mold.
- Rubber is sprayed onto the statue to start the mold process.
- A number of coats of rubber must be applied to the entire clay statue, front and back.
- The rubber is too flexible hold its shape so reinforced plaster is applied to the rubber.
- The plaster is applied to the entire statue. When the mold is removed it will replicate the statue exactly, only now the statue will be in many piece of a size that can be cast in bronze.
- From the mold wax is used to make wax parts of the entire statue.
- Sprews and runners are added to the wax pieces to make channels for the bronze to fill the ceramic shell molds.
- The wax parts are dipped in ceramic shell material and silica sand is sprinkled on the wet ceramic shell.
- The wax is dipped numerous times to form a ceramic coating on the wax.
- Each coat of ceramic shell material must dry completely.
Phase 4: Bronze Pouring & Finishing Touches
- The ceramic shells are fired in a furnace at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. This sets the ceramic shell material and melts out the wax. Now bronze can be poured into the shell molds where the wax once was.
- The hot molds are moved to the crucible.
- The crucible holds the red hot molten bronze. The trained foundry professionals pour the molten bronze into the hot ceramic shell molds.When the molds cool, the ceramic shell material is removed, the sprews and runners that were used to feed molten metal to the shell molds are cut off.The shell material must be broken off and the bronze sand blasted clean.In this image, of the statues head, you can see sprews and runners used to feed bronze to various areas such as the nose and ears.The various cast bronze parts must be sand blasted and assembled.The many bronze pieces are heliarc welded together.The entire statue is assembled and the bronze is ground and polished to remove any imperfections.The entire bronze statue is sand blasted in preparation for the chemical patina or color to be applied.After the patina is applied the completed statue is given a coat of wax to protect the patina. Now that the statue is completed it can shipped to the memorial site.