The Lost Wax Process

During my extended stay in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to study the ancient art of bronze sculpting at the Instituto Allende, I had the unique opportunity to learn the entire process beginning with wax sheets (using a butter knife and a gas burner) to create my contemporary figurative pieces, to the pouring of the molten metal.

I found the experience fascinating, especially in Mexico where little has changed in their lost wax casting method. Each step in this process required some skill, particularly the placement of wax funnels (sprues) to ensure the molten bronze, once poured, would distribute evenly and reach the extremities of each of my pieces. Melted bronze will start cooling as soon as it leaves the crucible (container).

A concrete mould is poured over the wax sculpture and placed in a kiln for 3-4 days depending on the size of the piece. Once the wax has melted, leaving the impression of the sculpture intact, the mould is taken out and buried in a sand pit to hold it steady for the pouring. Less than an hour later, the mould is chipped away releasing the rough bronze. At this stage, it bears little resemblance to the sculpture I had created and where I need to sand blast, cut, torch and file to bring it back to life. The final stage is choosing a patina that will enhance what I have created.