Contact Dawn to inquire about or purchase any of her fine bronze sculpture creations. "Touching the Spirit" goes a long way in describing her fine work. Always in bronze, never inexpensive substitutes.
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All About Bronze by Dawn Weimer Bronze Sculptor
The Bronze Process...
|THE MAKING OF A LOST WAX BRONZE SCULPTURE
|How do you make a bronze? This question is asked so frequently with so much
confusion, I will attempt to give a brief description of what is actually a long, arduous process.
The original sculpture begins with an armature usually made from pipe, wood, wire or anything else that will make a "skeleton" with the strength to hold the weight of the table-size model to be sculpted in clay as well as the weight of the mold that will be made of the clay model.
After the sculptor completes the clay model a several layers of urethane or silicone rubber mold is then made directly on the original clay sculpture. A plaster "mother mold" is then made encasing the rubber mold to hold the rubber mold rigid. Molds are removed, reassembled, and filled with repeated thin layers of melted wax each poured at a lesser temperature so as not to melt the one just poured. The mold is then peeled away from the hardened wax and the wax is "chased" to remove seams and bubbles to replicate the original clay sculpture.
I then inspect the wax replica. Wax rods are then attached to the wax sculpture replica (called gates and sprues) in a manner resembling arteries. These gates lead to a wax funnel at one end of the rod. The hardened wax sculpture replica with its "arteries" is then dipped into a liquid "shell" vat. While still wet, it is slowly lowered into a dry silica-sand forming a rigid shell. This process is repeated in layers, each layer being allowed drying time, which creates a hard plaster-like shell on the inside and outside of the wax sculpture. This wax, with its heavy shell coating, is now steam heated, melting out all of the wax, leaving only a hollow shell. This is where the "lost wax" method of bronze term applies. The lost wax method of bronze dates back approximately 6000 years and is virtually the same process today with modern applications. If the table-size model is to be pointed-up (the term for enlarging to life-size or larger) the sculptor then has to take very accurate measurements of the table-size model in order to begin calculations to enlarge it to the desired dimensions for the life-size or heroic piece. This process can take many months to complete depending upon the complexity and size of the piece.
12 Foot High Monument
Installed - Colorado State University
1999 Copyright: Dawn Weimer
While the bronze bars (ingots) are melted into liquid form, the shells are baked to a ceramic-like stone. Melted molten-like bronze (at temperatures of 2130 degrees (Fahrenheit) is then poured into the hollow cavity within the shell. Once the bronze is hardened and cooled the shell is carefully broken away with hammer and chisel. Bars and funnels are also removed at this time. Any remaining shell is removed by two stages of sandblasting: first with course material, then with fine.
Imperfections to the surface, as well as marks and scars left when removing the bars and funnel are repaired in a process called "chasing" similar to the wax chasing done earlier on the wax replication. Since large pieces cannot be easily poured in one piece, they are often cut into pieces in the wax spruing/gating process therefore requiring that the bronze pieces be reassembled and welded into correct position. Welded seams are again "chased" until the bronze is identical to the original work. Another sandblasting is required and again, I inspect.
The final step is the patination. This gives the bronze its coloration by applying heat with a torch (at 400 degrees) and chemicals to the metal. Chemicals can be dipped, sprayed or brushed on in varying degrees of heat to achieve the scuptor's desired result. I inspect the piece again.
In summary, sculpting a table-size clay model alone can take up to three months or better depending upon its size and complexity. If the piece is to be pointed up, the point up can take up to six months or better, again depending upon the size and complexity. The molding process of a life-size or larger piece can take a month or better. The foundry process can take four to six months to complete in bronze. Thus, you can begin to understand the many stages, complications, variations, and the exhausting endurance of hours, days and months that elapse in the process of creating a single, finished lost wax bronze and why bronze is a time-consuming and costly art medium. The end result is virtually a timeless, indestructible, glowing three dimensional fine art sculpture that gives centuries of pleasure and becomes a cherished family heirloom or the pride of a community well into the future. In fact, the bronze sculpture "Double Check" by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. of a seated man with briefcase survived through the World Trade Center tragedy. It will need sandblasting, a new patina and base to again be a bronze testament to the fortitude of America.
True foundry cast lost wax bronze sculpture should not be confused with cold-cast or bonded "bronze" which is a process of mixing metal powder with resin (plastic) and adding steel balls to the mixture in order to add weight. True bronze on the other hand has its own weight. It cannot be ground up or pulverized. It is nothing like brass, pewter, resin (plastic)) or the so-called "solid" bronze also held together with a resin. Nothing can replace lost wax bronze for enduring beauty, timeless durability and increasing value. To view the lost wax process visit www.artcastings.com/process
Caring for Bronze Sculpture...
endures; transcending time, surviving the elements, remodeling contractors,
children and pets! In fact, should it even become exposed to fire it could
likely be restored to its original beauty by a competent foundry. In fact,
the bronze sculpture "Double Check" by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. of a seated
man with briefcase survived through the World Trade Center tragedy. It will
need a new patina and base but will again be a bronze testament to the fortitude
The coloration on the surface of a bronze is achieved by an artistic application
of specific chemical compounds (Patination) causing certain oxidation processes
to occur which brings about various colors. Some collectors enjoy the subtle
changes that naturally occur as the bronze "ages". Bronze can always again
be sandblasted and repatinaed should the color changes become objectionable.
However, most bronze is "sealed" traditionally with waxes and/or lacquers.
This is done to protect the patinas as well as the bronze surface, which
is otherwise quite sensitive to color changes brought about by exposure
to the immediate atmosphere. It is recommended that your bronze not be
placed where it willcome into contact with vapors from swimming pool or
hot tub. The chlorinated water vapors can become quite harmful to the
patina as well as the bronze itself over a period of time. Remember too
that items like rings, watches, belt buckles etc can scratch the patina.
Lacquer and/or several thin coats of paste wax are applied to the surface of every
bronze as well as its wood/marble base before it ever leaves my studios.
Outside of frequent dusting and light, brisk buffing with a soft, dry cloth
your bronze should not require much to maintain its beautiful glow. However,
once or twice a year you may apply a very thin coat of paste wax to the
surface to further protect your bronze. It is particularly advisable to
at least annually rewax the surface of an outdoor bronze. First, make sure
all areas of the bronze are thoroughly clean. Using a mild solution of Dawn
dishwashing detergent with a soft natural bristle brush will remove the
old wax and clean the surface. For indoor pieces, make certain they are
dust free; then using a soft, natural bristle brush apply a thin coat of
"Johnson's Paste Wax" (easily available at your local grocery store) to
the surface allowing it to dry to a haze (approximately 10-15 minutes).
|The patina may darken but as the wax dries, the color will reappear. Then
using a soft, clean 100% cotton cloth (cloth diapers work great), lightly
buff your bronze until a desired glow or sheen appears. NEVER USE household
cleansers or furniture polishes that may have cleaning agents in them. They
will tend to soften and pull any existing protective wax off the surface
exposing the patina to the atmosphere.
There is a book available by one of the nations leading patineurs, Patrick
Kipper, for more in depth coverage of the care of bronze. It can be obtained
through Rodgers & Nelsen Publishing Co., PO Box 7001, Loveland, Colorado
80537-0001 USA. Telephone: 970-593-9557.