Anthony casts his sculptures in bronze using the ancient process known as ‘lost wax casting’. The sculptures are all hand-made by the Artist, together with a high-skilled foundry team. Anthony works on every stage of production himself, as well as overseeing the work of the foundry to ensure that every sculpture lives up to his high personal standards.

 

The Sculpting and Casting Process

Inspiration

Anthony’s wildlife sculptures are inspired by careful observation of animals in the wild; he travels the world with his camera and sketchbook, capturing images and inspiration for the artworks which are later developed in his home studio.

 

Artist Anthony Smith with King Penguins on a beach on South Georgia

 

Sculpting

After developing the designs for his sculptures through sketches and small practice sculptures known as ‘maquettes’, the next stage is the construction of an armature – the metal skeleton onto which the clay is added. Anthony often spends several months refining his work until he is completely satisfied with the result.

 

Artist Anthony Smith sculpting a King Penguin in his studio

 

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.

 

Artist Anthony Smith creating a mould for a large portrait bust

 

Wax Stage

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.

 

Artist Anthony Smith working on the wax stages for several sculptures

 

Investment

The wax sculpture is coated inside and out with a fine, fireproof ceramic or plaster ‘investment’ which creates an exact negative impression of the hollow wax sculpture. The invested wax 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.

 

A selection of waxes being invested with ceramic in preparation for casting

 

 

Pouring the Bronze

The bronze is heated to a temperature of around 1070 degrees centigrade before being poured into the pre-heated ceramic/plaster shell. Once the bronze has cooled and solidified the investment material is chipped away to reveal the cast bronze sculpture.

 

Pouring the molten bronze for casting a statue

 

Metalwork

Once the cast bronze is chipped out of its shell it needs to be cleaned and any separate parts welded together and joins reworked to their original form. This process of working the bronze with files and grinders is known as ‘chasing’ and Anthony performs this work himself.

 

Sculptor Anthony Smith working on the bronze stage of his Albatross Couple sculpture

 

Patination

The final stage is the patination, or ‘colouring’ of the bronze – this is the most exhilarating stage of the whole process. It is possible to create an almost infinite range of colours and tones through the controlled application of heat and chemicals to the surface of the bronze, and Anthony is known for his diverse and creative use of patination to achieve unique results. The transformation from a shiny piece of metal into beautifully coloured bronze sculpture is always remarkable.

 

Sculptor Anthony Smith working on the patination stage of his Albatross Bust sculpture

 

Finished Sculpture

Once the patination is complete the sculpture is coated with a layer of clear wax which will protect the surface finish for many years. The sculpture is now complete and ready to be treasured and bring joy in its new home, wherever that may be.

 

Sculptor Anthony Smith with his Gentoo Penguin sculpture

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