This summer I was given an internship position at Schaffer Art Bronze in Arlington, Tx. This was a really great learning experience which allowed me to work closely with bronze sculptors and learn about the lost wax casting process. I worked with wax originals and melted down seams from the molds so that the sculptures could be cast in bronze.
I would remove the wax original from a silicone and fiberglass mold like this one. The thinness or thickness of the cast was very controlled in order to use the least amount of liquid bronze to cast it. This kept the pieces lighter and less expensive to cast.
Then I would melt down any seams on the piece using hot irons, and sculpt any areas of lost texture to match the rest of the surface. I often had to be able to sculpt horns or teeth and other small parts in wax if any details were lost in the mold.
I was also able to work on some much larger pieces. This half life size red elk was sculpted by Mick Doellinger, a local artist. I was able to meet him and learn about his studio practice. Many artists like Doellinger work their originals in clay or plasticine, usually with a foam core underneath. Seeing larger pieces like this one also helped me see ways that the animal form can be segmented for casting or hollowing in my own work.
I also had the great pleasure of working with Bobby Hunt, another local animal sculptor. Hunt had recently installed some new sculptures at the Museum of Living Art that opened last spring at the Fort Worth Zoo. From his many trips on safari and big game hunting, Bobby has been able to study the animals he sculpts in the wild. He uses taxadermy often as a model and I learned a lot of really great techniques from his method of sculpting. This Elephant sculpture is one of my favorites of his.