Tuesday, June 30, 2009

James Beaty Statue Takes Shape

Watch the video above and see James Beaty's statue take shape. (Search "James Beaty" to follow it on YouTube.) Now, at the end of June a full-size clay model of the statue is complete. The next stage—now underway and shown in the last part of the video—is to make a rubber mold for the foundry, where the bronze statue will be finished.

In the beginning Adrienne Alison, a well-known Toronto sculptor commissioned for the project, started with some rough sketches. From these she moved on to the construction of two clay figures, called maquettes. The maquettes are about a foot in height. "I like to work in three dimensions," she said.

When they were finished Adrienne invited the client to choose the maquette he liked best. Next she made a larger replica about two to three times the size of the clay original. "A larger figure reveals details not evident in the smaller maquette, such as the way the clothing fits."

Using the blowup as a guide, Adrienne began work on a full-size model. Layers of builders' foam were assembled around a metal armature, which is a skeleton-like structure made of adjustable pipes. After the styrofoam had been built up Adrienne proceeded to shape it with knives and small saws. Finally a layer of wax was applied to the sculpted body. The purpose of the wax is to provide a binding surface to hold the clay that will be applied next. As the clay is applied it will be sculpted to match the exact shape and texture of the eventual seven-foot bronze statue.

The process of copying the clay-covered model to the final bronze one is both complex and ingenious.

The first step will be to make a rubber mold from the model. In the bronze casting business the rubber mold is called the "mother". Next, the foundry hired to cast the bronze statue will construct a wax form on the inside, or "negative", of the rubber mold. After the "mother" has been detached, the wax form will then be invested with a sand and silica composite. Sections of the impregnated wax form will then be cut away, the wax melted out and the hollow area between the layers of sand and silica composite filled with molten bronze. When all the sections have been completed, the parts will be welded together, the surface finished and the final patina applied resulting in the finished bronze statue of James Beaty.