Metal sculptures are traditionally lost wax castings and require a very different creation process compared to sculptures made of stone, wood and other materials. This process is determined by the properties of the metal itself and the environment it is being displayed. While it’s difficult and time-consuming to cast statues, artists still chose this method over its alternatives.
Understanding the casting method
The name of the aforementioned technique implies that it is based on a wax model that is melted and then drained. The method is used in jewellery creation and various industries. It can cast metal as a single piece, with no need to solder parts together to create it. However, in sculpture, artists may choose to create several pieces and then bind these together, in case of large works. This is an ancient technique, used today not only in modern industries such as Automotive, Aerospace, oil and gas but also in biomedicine. It originally worked with pure copper only, but nowadays it can employ various metal alloys, the usual blend being 88% copper and tin for the rest. Sculptors prefer bronze and often use brass on the outside. This turns darker with time, but does not corrode; element exposure may in fact make the piece of art look better in its chosen environment.
The high precision of Alloy castings
Casting with alloys allows for high precision applications. In molten form it gets into all the nooks; as it melts, it expands slightly, thus getting to fill all the fine details of the mold. Then, the metal will shrink back retaining all the detail.
Making large sculptures
It is possible to create a very large sculpture with the help of several small study models. The artist is free to experiment until the best proportions are identified. Until the final version, one may work with intermediate scale models, to set all the details. The wax method can be applied to the parts if the sculpture is too big. Then, the parts will be joined together through welding. The old method also allows casting such works in one pour only, but it is more convenient nowadays to simply make separate parts to be welded later.
Applying the finish
Casting allows the application of different finish materials and the colour of the sculpture can be changed. A highly prized finish could include gold or silver plated finish or other materials can be used to create a finish which can range from matte to glossy.