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Tibetan Art - Cast Stone

Tibetan Art - Bronze

Mayan/Aztec-style Art

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How the Sculptures are Made

Most of the bronze sculptures on this site are made using the "lost wax" method a complex, multi-stepped process that can be broken down into 15 different steps as indicated below:

1. Make a model in clay or another material. Clay is preferred as the rubber mold applied in the next step will pull off of clay most easily. Other materials will likely require a coat of releasing agent.

2. Create a mold from the original clay sculpture. Specially made compounds can be used for this step or one can use sealing silicone commonly available in hardware stores. A plaster "boot" is necessary for most pieces so that when the original clay sculpture is removed from the mold the mold will retain its shape.

3. Wax is poured into the rubber mold, often in three stages in order to build up thickness. The cooled wax is then carefully removed from the mold.

4. Since there are almost always a few holes or seams in the resulting wax positive the next step is to "chase", or repair, the wax using a variety of sculpting tools.

5. The wax positive is gated with wax tubes, providing channels for the wax to be melted out, and funnels called sprues are attached to channel the molten bronze into the piece. The piece is also vented with wax tubes to avoid air entrapment.

6. The sprued and gated wax is dipped in a clay slurry then, while it is still wet with the slurry, it is coated with varying grades of sand from fine to coarse. Between coats of sand it is allowed to completely dry. Depending on the dimensions of the piece from six to ten coats will need to be built up. In the end the resulting ceramic shell will be from 1/2 to 1 inch thick.

7. Usually it will be necessary to drill holes in in the ceramic shell so that when the piece is heated in the next step the natural expansion of the wax won't crack the shell.

8. The ceramic shell is inverted and heated. This causes the wax to melt out, and so become "lost". The negative space in the shell will become the positive bronze casting. The holes made in the shell in step 7 are then plugged so that the bronze poured in during the next step won't simply flow out as it is poured in.

9. Bronze ingots are melted to a temperature of 2100 degrees. The molten bronze is poured into the shell.

10. After the bronze cools enough that it won't run out of the shell the shells with the still very hot bronze are immersed in water to speed up the cooling process and prevent the bronze from shrinking anymore than it has to.

11. The shell is broken away leaving the bronze where wax once was.The gates and vents are sawn off, and the surface is repaired--usually there are a few flaws and bubbles left from the casting process.

12. If the bronze is complex the different pieces will then be welded together to reform the complete piece. The weld lines need be chased so that the texture matches the area of the surrounding surface.

13. The entire sculpture needs to be sandblasted at this point so that the surface will hold a patina.

14. Different patinas can now be applied. A variety of chemicals and paints are used to achieve the desired finish.

15. Finally the patinaed surface is coated with paste wax to protect the finish, and the finished sculpture is fixed to a base if needed or desired.

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