The Sculpting Process: Lost-wax Casting

Today I dropped off four life-size Roe Deer sculptures to Lockbund Foundry. There they will have their moulds made, before the casting in bronze. This part of the process is lost-wax casting.

One of the reasons I love sculpting Roe Deer is that it is a great scale. With life-size I can get quite loose with my gestures and the size of marks. Obviously this is less easy with a grouse for example, or a smaller animal. I have always had this need to keep my finger prints in the bronze. As a result, my working relationship with Lockbund Foundry is critical. They retain the gestural quality of my work.

I have always had a soft spot for the Roe Deer. Whilst creating them I have a narrative going on in my mind. ThisĀ helps me bring each animal to life. This time I have made a family of four: a doe, a buck, and two fawns.

The foundry will now take my deer through the lost-wax casting process. First they make the moulds. Then they fill them with hot wax to create a perfect replica of the sculpture. This is then covered in a ceramic shell and put into the kiln. The wax melts away. This leaves a cavity into which the bronze is poured. So the lost-wax casting process is a series of negative and positive stages.

Every time I take a client around the foundry, they marvel at how intricate the process is. For example, Lockbund must fit the replica with sprues and air vents. This allows the bronze to fill the cavity and the air to come out. The lost-wax casting process takes at least 2-3 months. But of course with all the animals I’ve sculpted recently, there can be quite a backlog!

Lost wax process of bronze sculpting