Making a bronze from start to finish
Few people realise quite how much is involved in the making of a bronze. It is an age old process, and much of the work today is still carried out by artisans in the foundry. There are many stages involved and I travel a great distance from where I make the original model in my camp, to the foundry in Italy. Below, I have outlined the process that my bronzes go through from start to finish.
making the clay model in camp
My original models are made in plasticine or wax, with a metal support. I research each subject from the wonderful array of wildlife that surrounds my bush camp.
Packing it up and send it to Italy
This is a mold packaged up ready for shipment to the Mariani foundry in Italy. I have to drive 250km, to Iringa town to send it off.
The wax models are dipped in ceramic
Each wax model goes through a complicated process of first being assembled with air vents, runners and a funnel for the bronze to pass through. Then they are dipped in ceramic mixture like thick cream several times, and dried. This is the model after it has been dipped several times in ceramic and dried. The pipes are runners and air vents for the bronze to flow through.
The molten bronze is poured
The bronze is heated in the crucible to 1150 degrees Centigrade and is poured into the mold. All these processes, are very, very critical, and must be carried out by skilled artisans.
Making the mold
I often make my own molds in my camp studio as the models are too delicate to transport to Italy. I use a silicone, synthetic rubber, for the mold and a jacket of plaster of Paris for the support.
At the foundry
Here we are discussing a wax copy of one of my models made from the mold I sent previously. This is the first stage of many, in the casting process.
The crucible is heated
Once the bronze is cast, these will be cut off the model and chased over to remove all traces of their existence
This ceramic mold with the wax inside it, is then baked at high temperature. The wax runs out leaving a hollow space where it was. Bronze is then heated in the crucible and carried to where the mold is placed in a sand bed ready for the pour.
The finished model
This is the bronze sculpture ready for display, after metal finishing by hand and the patina added with the use of acids and heat.
I have done my bronze casting at the Mariani foundry in Pietrasanta, Tuscany, Italy, for the past 35 years. Their quality has always been outstanding, and it is a pleasure to work amongst such craftsmen