Beautiful Bronze

Bronze statue of two figures dancing: The Lift

Bronze sculpture has a certain magic about it. There’s something about the transformation of a heavy inert metal into grace, energy and movement that’s almost miraculous and artists have been captivated by the beauty of these pieces for the past five thousand years. They boast an integrity and attention to detail that is rare and precious in the modern world and bind us into a story that stretches all the way back to the beginnings of civilisation. At Cotswold Grey we’re big fans of craft and artistry so we are absolutely thrilled to be able to offer a stunning selection of bronze artworks for sale here in Moreton-in-Marsh.

 

The quality of the work speaks for itself and we’re sure that our customers will agree that these are objects to be treasured. Our collection consists of thirteen fabulous sculptures that take in a wide variety of styles and subjects - from dancers to horses, mythology to surrealism. They introduce an effortless grace into any interior but their poise belies an intense and time-consuming process of creation. These pieces are a testament to unseen hard work and incredible skill.

 

They are produced using the “lost wax process”, a technique that has barely changed since it was first developed in Ancient Greece. The process works as follows:

 

Sculpture, moulding and wax

It all begins with the artist. A sculptor will create an original work in clay, labouring to get the proportions and finish exactly right. It’s not uncommon for this to take months or even years; Rodin spent nearly four decades working on a set of doors for a Parisian museum and still never quite managed to complete them. It’s best not to rush this step since it’s where the soul of the work is created - good things come to those who wait after all.

 

Once the artist is satisfied with their creation it leaves the studio and arrives at the foundry. Here, skilled artisans carefully apply layers of liquid rubber over the clay to create a flexible mould. Once dry this mould is gently peeled away from the clay sculpture, turned inside-out and filled with molten wax.

 

Gating, dipping and burnout

After this has cooled and set, the rubber is removed and the technicians are left with a perfect wax replica of the original work. Wax rods are then inserted into the sides of the sculpture; these will create drainage channels later in the process. At this point the piece will look somewhat bizarre to say the least with limbs stuck out in all directions. The strange creature is dipped into a vat of ceramic slurry so that a tougher mould can be built up around the wax. This is what will eventually hold the molten bronze. Once the ceramic has cured and set, it is partially chiselled away to expose the ends of the wax rods. The whole piece is then fired in a kiln. This melts the wax which drains away through the gates created by the rods (hence the name “lost wax” process).

 

Bronze casting, break-out and finishing

The result is a hollow ceramic mould that is ready to be filled with liquid bronze heated to 2200C. Once the bronze has cooled, the ceramic shell is broken apart and the gates are sawn off. The piece is now ready to be given its finishing touches. Casting marks and stubs from the gates are removed through a laborious process of sanding and polishing, then various patinas are applied to colour the metal. Finally, a thin coat of wax is applied to protect the finished sculpture.

 

With so much artistry involved it’s not surprising that bronze artwork is highly sought-after and we feel very priviliged to be able to offer these pieces for sale. They have a palpable sense of gravitas about them and are the type of objects that become woven into family history and work their way down through the generations.

 

These wonderful artworks can be viewed in our showroom on Moreton-in-Marsh High Street and are also featured on our website, although we strongly recommend paying us a visit to see them in the flesh and experience their beauty and craftmanship first hand.  

 

James Pilsworth

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