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Trip to the Getty: an education in traditional bronze sculpture casting

September 24th, 2009 No comments
Adrian Forbes - guest blogger

Adrian Forbes - guest blogger

While visiting friends and family during a trip to California over Labor Day weekend, I squeezed in a half-day visit to the Getty Center in Los Angeles.  The elevated view of the city was remarkable as well as the French Bronzes exhibit, a Renaissance to Revolution display of sculptures.  The corresponding Foundry to Finish exhibit detailed the how bronze sculptures of the period were created, including different stages of the process.

Getty Center - French Bronzes Exhibit

Getty Center - French Bronzes Exhibit

Coming from an analytical and engineering background, I was particularly interested in the process of crafting a large piece such as the casting of the 30-foot-high statue of Louis XIV in 1692 Paris.  The architect used the lost-wax casting technique, which is also used for creating custom jewelry.  A rough base model was formed and coated with wax, providing the artist with a workable surface for fine detail.  Upon completion of the wax exterior detail, a fire-resistant mold with an iron grid was constructed in and around the model.  The molten bronze was carefully poured into this exterior model, melting away the wax and forming a new exterior.  A sculpture of this size required an on-site foundry for pouring the material.

Getty Center - Foundry to Finish lost-wax casting

Getty Center - Louis XIV statue casting

What grabbed my attention was how the exterior mold was constructed to distribute the molten bronze throughout the model.  A series of arteries and capillaries (sprues) were created to reach every point of detail where it would be impossible to fill without their deployment.  It reminds me of plastic resin cast toys attached to a grid where you need to pop them out and trim the excess material.  Multiply that by one hundred.

I now have a new appreciation for how traditional bronze sculptures were created with the lost-wax technique.  I will observe pieces in parks and museums envisioning the network of sprues that may have made up the lifeline of the model.

Have you had a “Wow! So that’s how they do it.” moment with art or technology?  Chime in.  I am curious to see different perspectives.

Adrian Forbes is a software engineer and technology consultant in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Categories: Art Tags: , ,

Copper Leaf Studios

July 24th, 2009 5 comments

One of the highlights of copper is the intrinsic beauty of the material itself. It comes out of the ground already pleasing to the eye. In the hands of an artist, it achieves form and expression. greatlakes.250wOver time, or with the help of modern aging methods, it can acquire a variety of patinas. Or it can be treated to remain suspended in time. No wonder artists find it such a versatile and rewarding medium.

When I saw Christen Zielski’s copper maps and copper leaf motifs, I had to know how the artist, the material, and the ideas had found each other. Apropos of the age in which we live, I discovered her not in a gallery but on Twitter. We dashed a few micro messages back and forth and then finally connected beyond the 140-character Twittersphere.

Christen talked with me from her Cleveland, Ohio, atelier, Copper Leaf Studios.

Coppertalk: Chris, why maps – and why copper?

Christen Zielski: I started working in copper after researching non-toxic printmaking techniques for a high school course I was slated to teach. Schedules shifted and I didn’t end up with the class, but I fell in love with the process and started working in metal. Prior to that I had been a textile & collage artist for about 15 years. Metal was a pretty natural transition for me, as my previous work focused on rich color, texture, and layering – this was just an extension of the same ideas. Read more…

Copper in the Arts – July ’09B

July 24th, 2009 No comments

This month in…

Copper in the Arts
Monthly Online Newsletter of the Copper Development Association

It must be gratifying to be able to breathe new life into some of America’s most beloved edifices; to know that because of you, the Statue of Liberty, the Plaza Hotel, Carnegie Hall, and many other historic structures will be around for a very long time.

Restored copper facadeSchtiller & Plevy, an historic restoration and architectural sheet metal shop in Newark, New Jersey, has worked on these famous landmarks, and is one of only a few accredited Historic Restoration Contractors in the country. Larry Plevy, the company’s president and a man who can gauge the thickness of a sheet of copper by touch, describes his work in industrial terms, but what one sees is the hand of an artist.

The Schtiller & Plevy story begins with Larry Plevy’s great, great grandfather, who installed the “skins” of the onion dome churches in Czarist Russia, and continues down to the recent $2 million restoration of the American Museum of Natural History.

Schtiller & Plevy: A Commitment to Restoring History tells the fascinating story.

Also in the current edition:
●    Gregory Nangle: Outcast Studios
●    The Movement of Bronze: Andrew DeVries
●    Capturing the Wild West through Bronze
●    A listing of upcoming events

Copper in the Arts – July ’09A

July 14th, 2009 No comments

This month in…

Copper in the Arts
Monthly Online Newsletter of the Copper Development Association

Have you ever wondered how the massive sculptures of Fernando Botero – like his Eve, pictured in our inaugural blog – or the fanciful creations of Jeff Koons get produced?
Bronze sculpture by lost wax method
Meet Dick Polich, the founder and CEO of Polich Tallix, and our featured craftsman for July. Polich’s fine art foundry in Rock Tavern, New York, casts the work of Koons, Nancy Graves, Frank Stella, and other important artists for display in museums, galleries, and sculpture gardens around the world. Launched in 1968 in Polich’s garage, it is the largest in the United States: the size of a football field, with 40-foot ceilings, thousands of pieces of equipment, and an army of highly skilled craftsmen who know how to bring modern masterpieces to life.

Take “An Inside Look at Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry” and don’t miss the video tour demonstrating various techniques of fine art bronze casting. (more)

Also in the current edition:
●    Carol B. Saylor: In Her Mind’s Eye
●    Syed Ahmad: Capturing Fluid Movement in Glass on Copper
●    Transcendence through Copper
●    A listing of upcoming events

Categories: Art, Events Tags: , , , ,

Featured Art Event

July 14th, 2009 No comments

Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell
High Museum of Art
Atlanta, GA
Through August 2, 2009

driskellwoodcut.150wThe Evolution exhibit is the first to highlight the printmaking work of renowned artist and scholar, David C. Driskell. Spanning more than 50 years, from 1952 through 2007, it contains 80 prints and three self-portraits, and reflects the variety of styles and artistic movements that inspired Driskell’s work, ranging from African sculpture to Western art.

Categories: Art, Events Tags: ,

Copper in the Arts – June ’09

June 26th, 2009 1 comment

This month in…

Copper in the Arts
Monthly Online Newsletter of the Copper Development Association

Copper in the Arts presents the beautiful and unique in everything from copper paintings, sculpture, and musical instruments, to jewelry and home furnishings. The artists and artisans we interview each month prove that copper and its alloys provide a versatile palette for the creative mind.

Dennis Cordeiro’s unique copper fish make full use of the many shades and finishes achievable with copper. His red snapper and brown trout are a hit among the residents of Pawleys Island, the South Carolina fishing village he calls home. (more)

Tara Helwig, owner of Mystical Creations and Original Body Ornaments, uses copper and semi-precious stones, like tiger’s eye, amethyst, and hematite, to create healing, one-of-a-kind jewelry. She lives and works in Wayne, PA, but has clients throughout the world. (more)

Also in the current edition: