Bronze Sculpture

A brief description of the process of crafting a bronze sculpture

T he original sculpture for casting in bronze can be made of numerous materials.

In my own work for bronze I have modelled the original in clay, (terra cotta or stoneware), which gives a fine and subtle impression, almost down to a fingerprint.

On completion of the clay original, a silicon rubber mould in a plaster or fibreglass case is made by a specialist mould maker.


This mould is then passed to a bronze foundry. A hollow wax cast is taken from the mould and the sculptor is invited to make any reparations or changes that might be necessary.


Following this, a refractory cement casing is gradually built up around the wax sculpture, internally and externally, with runners and risers.


This constitutes a further mould, which is then fired in a kiln so that the wax melts away (cire perdue ), leaving a strong mould for the molten bronze. This mould is buried in sand and the molten bronze poured from a crucible into it.

After cooling, this refractory cement mould is hammered and drilled off and discarded to reveal the bronze sculpture – which looks as if it has gone through fire!

At this stage, with large pieces, some blemishes may need the expertise of a welder. It is then sand blasted and chased to remove any small blemishes.

The final chasing is often carried out by the sculptor. A finish for the bronze is created with various chemicals depending on the colour required. This is burned into the sculpture, followed by hot wax.


Solid bronze casting is a labour intensive process using an expensive, but beautiful and durable, material.



NB:   The original silicon mould taken from the clay sculpture is still intact and can be used for further casts in bronze for a Limited Edition or in casts in other less expensive materials.
For example, cold cast bronze, using powdered bronze with resin and fibreglass is, relatively, much cheaper, but still has a similar appearance.

Much less expensive casts can also be taken in Herculite 2, a very strong but not weather resistant, plaster.


Sometimes the original clay head survives the mould making process and can be hollowed out and kiln fired.