The Lost Wax Casting Process is a two step method of producing bronze statues.
A soft clay version of the desired finished statue is sculpted, then covered by a rubber coating that transfers the details carved in the clay version. This coating is support by plaster. The clay is removed, leaving behind an empty shell that is then filled with hot wax.
The wax statue is removed from the mold, and then re-examined and corrected by the artist. This wax statue is covered by a ceramic mold that will be able to withstand the high temperatures of the molten bronze. The wax is melted out of the mold, becoming “lost,” then molten bronze is pourred in its place.
After the bronze has cooled, the ceramic mold is chipped away to reveal the final sculpture. The artist adds in final details by filing, grinding, sanding, and carefully welding.
The final step is adding color to the statue, called a patina, using heat and various chemicals. The patina is a permanent part of the sculpture that also helps to protect it, since the outermost surface of the statue is oxidized in the patina process.
The foundry mark and sculpture edition number are hammered into the statue, then the whole statue is waxed to add a further layer of protection for the patina.
An Artist’s Touch:
Andre Harvey is unique in that he is highly involved in the production of his pieces. Many artists only create the clay mold, and leave the rest of the process to the foundry, but Harvey does all of the correcting and patina application himself. He strongly believes in taking an active part in the creation of his pieces, cast in such an eternal material.
If you would like to learn more about the lost-wax casting process, Andre Harvey’s website provides an excellent summary with images.