Anthony works closely with a highly skilled foundry team in order to transform his original clay sculptures into finished bronze artworks. He works on every stage of the production for each sculpture he creates, from the armature construction, the wax-work, the metal chasing, and the all-important patination.

 

The ‘Lost Wax Casting Process’

Sculpting

Anthony first develops the ideas and designs for his sculptures through sketches and small practice sculptures known as ‘maquettes’. When the design has been finalised, the next stage is the construction of an armature – the metal skeleton onto which the clay is added.

 

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Moulding

Once the clay sculpture is complete it is coated in a layer of silicone rubber, which captures every tiny detail of the clay surface. The rubber is then supported by a hard outer mould, to retain the exact shape of the original sculpture.

Creating the Wax

Liquid wax is painted into the rubber mould and allowed to solidify, creating a hollow wax replica that exactly reproduces the original clay sculpture. The wax is built up to a thickness of 4-5mm and any seams or joins are reworked before the addition of wax ‘sprues’ that will later enable the pouring of the bronze and the escape of gases. Every casting of an edition requires the creation of a new wax.

 

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Creating the Ceramic ‘Negative’

The wax sculpture is coated inside and out with a fine, fireproof ceramic, which creates an exact negative impression of the hollow wax sculpture. This ceramic is then heated to allow the wax to melt and escape – hence the name ‘lost wax process’ – and it is into this hollow space that the molten bronze is poured.

Pouring the Bronze

The bronze is heated to a temperature of around 1200 degrees centigrade before being poured into the pre-heated ceramic shell. Once the bronze has cooled and solidified the ceramic is chipped away to reveal the cast bronze sculpture. At this point the bronze needs to be cleaned and any separate parts (for larger sculptures) will need to be welded together and any joins reworked to their original form.

 

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Patinating

The final stage is the patination, or ‘colouring’ of the bronze; the most exhilarating moment of the whole process. It is possible to create an almost infinite range of colours and tones through the application of heat and chemicals to the surface of the bronze. The transformation from a shiny piece of bronze to beautifully coloured sculpture is remarkable. Only at that moment do all the months of work come to fruition and the sculpture is complete.

 

Copyright © 2017 Anthony Smith