It's a feeling, memory, picture, vision, or a sketch that the client wants to capture for their artwork. This will show the beginning stages of the client’s dream coming to a reality for themselves and others to see.
For large sculptures, life size and above, I start from carving foam to make a rough outline of the sculpture. I then apply an oil based clay that never dries over the foam. For smaller sculptures, I create a scaled down version of a larger piece, called a maquette. These are sculpted out of solid clay without using any foam. Because the clay never dries, I am able to add the maximum amount of detail to give a life- like feeling to the sculpture.
In model making, the artist creates an original model from wax or clay. This is followed up with mold making, where a fiberglass or plaster case is made. The mother mold is important for supporting flexible material and is kept for future use to recreate the original as needed
Then, a special layer of wax poured or painted into the interior of the mold, referred to as wax pouring, coats the mold.
From there, a ceramic shell is created. Each piece is dipped into a slurry of silica sand. This process is repeated several times; along with giving bigger pieces receive thicker shells.
Burnout comes next, which involves de-waxing the wax sculpture.
Testing / Patching / Preheat
Testing/Patching/Preheat is where the pieces are tested to see if water will flow out. The shell is then reheated in the kiln to harden it and remove all traces of moisture. After reaching the desired temperature, molten bronze is poured in.
This is called metal pouring. Once the bronze is cool, the ceramic shell is hammered, chiseled, and is released by
Next, welding joins the pieces together that were just cast. This takes quite a bit of time and is a very skilled and laborious process.
After welding, metal chasing comes next (similar to wax chasing). This is where grinding tools are used to grind down each weld. This is one of the most grueling aspects of the sculpture making process.
Patina and Basing
Finishing touches include patina and basing. It includes chemical coloration of the surface of the bronze which is then sealed with a coat of wax or lacquer. Today, you can use just about any color under the sun. (This is one of Austin’s favorite steps as this is what people will see for generations to come.)