May 22, 2017

How to Make a Bronze Statue in 7 Easy Steps

This technique is called ‘the Lost Wax’ method. It is the method that Master Andrea del Verrocchio used to create his timeless sculpture of “David” among others. This method was widely used during the Renaissance period, and is still used by some masters today.

  1. A stick-figure made from a metal wire (coat hanger?) is formed into the general shape of the statue.
  1. Clay is then added onto the wire to build it up, and hand-molded into the general shape and size of the statue.
  1. Next, a thin layer of wax is applied, and carved into the perfectly detailed finished product ~ hair, eyelashes, all details.
  1. A heavy coat of plaster is then applied over the beautiful wax layer. Remember: the inside of the plaster is taking the perfect shape of the wax layer inside it. Several holes are made in the plaster where the bronze will enter and the wax will exit.
  1. Once the plaster is good and dry, hot molten liquid bronze is poured into the holes, turning the wax to liquid which will drain out through other holes.
  1. When the bronze is completely cooled and hardened, the plaster mold will be broken away leaving a perfectly-formed bronze statue (we hope!).
  1. Sharp edges of bronze that may remain from the molding process are filed off, and the statue is polished to the artist’s desired smoothness.

In Verrocchio’s beautiful statue of “David”, the head of Goliath was cast separately from the main statue. Being trained as a goldsmith, Verrocchio painted molten gold in various places on the statue to give it its final lustrous image. Although the hilt of the sword that you see on this statue in the Florence Bargello was part of the original casting, the sword blade itself was replaced much later during a restoration. This sculpture was very famous for nearly 100 years before Michelangelo created is own venerated sculpture of “David.”


 

 

For more stories about the creative brilliance of the Renaissance Giants, read “FLORENCE Gems & Giants” available on Amazon.

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