Victoria, BC Canada
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Bronze sculpture by Fred Dobbs

Crop Vancouver Island Marmot

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From Clay to bronze - The making of 'Meadow', a bronze Vancouver Island Marmot.

  1. The sculpture is first created with a wax based clay called 'J Mack'. In this case the marmot was situated on a real rock as its base and built up from there. Once the sculpting is completed the piece is then divided in two with metal shims that are lightly pressed into the clay for the moulding process. The shims are connected together with tape and have plastic registration keys set into the shim which will later provide a male/female connection on the rubber mould.

  2. With the artwork complete the entire sculpture and metal shims are covered in three coats of rubber. The rubber is designed to capture all the details of the sculpture but now requires a rigid jacket to mold the form of the sculpture.

  3. The rigid jacket in this case is made with fiberglass panels and is further divided into 3 panels to allow for the mould to be reopened easily. The panels are created with flanges that are drilled and screwed that allow for each panel to be aligned and firmly connected to each other.

  4. Once the mould is complete the original artwork is removed, and casting can begin. In this case, a wax casting has been made and wax sprueing channels have been added in preparation for a bronze sculpture to be produced using the lost wax process.

  5. The lost wax process requires a second mould, a waste mould that is made from a ceramic material which can tolerate the high heat of a bronze casting. The wax casting is encased in a ceramic mould. Which is achieved by dipping in a ceramic material and a variety of silica sands several layers thick. Once complete and dried the ceramic mould is fired and two things happen, one the wax melts and flows out of the ceramic mould, and two the ceramic material fires hard in preparation of a bronze pour.

  6. With the bronze pour complete, the ceramic ‘waste’ mould is ready to be broken apart revealing the bronze casting within. From here, the casting is trimmed, sandblasted and finally the sculpture is detailed with a patina and a protective coating.