Arguably the most well-known and celebrated sculptors of all time, Michelangelo once said “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
Being a sculpture artist for over ten years professionally, I can’t count the number of hours I’ve worked to hone my skill, to perfect my line work, to bring my subject to life. This profession is truly always changing and with each new sculpture, I learn more, and continue to work towards my “mastery.”
Looking at a bronze or marble sculpture, I hope that the viewer immediately revels in the beauty of the subject matter; appreciates the delicate features of a face, or the true-to-life elements of the wearer’s cloth. I strive to make viewing one of my sculptures an experience, immersed in realism and a high level of detail. But if one looks beyond that, what do they see? What do they know about the process? What price tag would they place on a work of art?
Sculpture is a multi-faceted art medium that involves many skilled professionals to reach completion. A sketch of a sculpture may start with me in my studio, but on the road to a free standing, life-size bronze sculpture, over thirty people may touch the art to ensure its reached perfection.
Starting with sketching, I take up to 5 hours to put my thoughts onto paper—continually moving and letting the sculpture come to life organically. This is the first step to creating a memorable piece. The sketch is a rough idea of what I will be putting into clay, and something I can show clients.
Once the sketch is complete, I move on to a moquette. This is a small version of the life-size sculpture, made entirely from clay. The lines are rough, there isn’t much detail, but it gives me and the client an idea of what the end product will look like. Depending on the subject matter, this can take up to 100 hours.
After the rough clay sketch, the large sculpture is then sculpted. This process takes anywhere from 100 hours to over 3,000 hours depending on the scale of the project.
From there, I have a mold maker that comes to the studio, cuts the sculpture into sections and he/ she makes a mold of the clay. After the mold has reached completion, we then move to wax pouring, and a ceramic shell. These three steps are incredibly skill orientated and take many people to master. This is what will give the sculpture the detail and the size it needs.
The ceramic shell is next, where each mold is dipped into a slurry of silica sand. It is important for these pieces to have a thick mold to withstand the bronze pouring.
A sculpture is more than bronze. It’s more than clay. It’s the dedication, mastery , and artistry of every individual, during every step of the process. From conception to the final product, a life-size sculpture uses the skills of over thirty people, and can take up to 3,000 hours. A bronze sculpture is a piece that will last a life time, and touch generations to come. It’s an investment in a memory or an individual, and the artists behind a bronze sculpture pour their hearts into each piece to show their respect for the subject matter.
Are you interested more in each step of the process? Please visit my website at AustinWeishel.com/process for more information!