The sculpture is bronze, a metal which has been in use for several thousand years. Bronze is an alloy, or mixture of metals. About 95% copper and tin, it may also include lead, silicon, phosphorus, magnesium, and other elements. Bronze is a different metal than brass, which is mostly copper and zinc.
There are three major reasons...
1. Ancient sculpture has had a major influence on both of us. Greek and Roman artwork over the past two thousand or so years has often been damaged. We don't think this detracts at all. In fact, we think it makes the sculpture more interesting because...
2. With viewer interaction, the viewer has to complete the sculpture in their mind's eye. We think a complete sculpture, finished and whole, is ultimately dull. It asks no questions, offers no possibilities.
3. With a full face, the piece becomes a sculpture of a specific individual, but with just a partial face the sculpture retains a sense of being anyone which lends itself to a mysterious or ageless quality.
One of the best things about bronze, is the fact that it can go inside or outside and since houses are built around people, figurative sculpture fits in any setting. From rustic, to formal, to contemporary, our pieces make a valuable addition to any household setting.
Any bronze sculpture bigger than, say, your fist, will be cast hollow for technical reasons, although it may not look like it in the finished piece.Ideally, no sculpture should be thicker than 1/3" or 1/2", although we pour much thinner than that. You see, when bronze is poured, it is very hot- 2000 F or more, and it shrinks as it cools. If the metal is too thick, or solid, it will cool unevenly, shrink, warp, and cause problems.
Our work weighs much less than one might imagine. Our wall pieces, for example, weigh only fifteen to thirty pounds, and are easily hung anywhere a painting or mirror might be hung. They have a wire in back and hang on a simple hook. We don't think you should have to build a reinforced wall just to hang one of our pieces.
The three dimensional bronze usually weighs only between sixty and ninety pounds. This is much lighter than it looks, again, because we cast thin.
Each sculpture is an original, and there are no editions. That is, there is only one. Occasionally we will do a piece similar to another, but it will be with a different model, or be turned a different way, or cropped differently, or have other differences. We are not copy machines to make one after the other. A large part of the joy and challenge of sculpture is to create different works.
No. Bronze is ideal for outside sculpture, (or for inside), because it does not rust, melt , crack or anything. Indeed, bronze is almost immortal. It cannot be destroyed by accident, and if damaged can be easily fixed. Although bronze has been used for tools and artwork for millennia, it is often recycled in wartime, which is why one does not find as many really old sculptures as there should be.
Bronze itself is a gold colored metal, but when exposed to the environment, the surface will change color or acquire a patina. The patina is only one molecule deep and serves to protect the metal. Various chemicals may be used to patina bronze, with a wide range of colors. Left alone, under normal conditions, it will eventually turn a pretty green, but that may take years.
Basically, bronze is hard to do. It takes an investment not only of experience, time and materials, but it also requires a wide variety of specialized tools and equipment. We do not employ a professional foundry to cast for us - we are a professional foundry.
We cast bronze using the lost wax process, with investment molds, and again, it is a long process...
l. We take a complex, several piece mold off a model.
2. We make a wax positive from the mold. Then we rework it. This is where most of the decisions are made in cropping and emphasis. A wax may undergo many changes from the original before it is cast.
3. The finished wax, which should look exactly like the finished bronze, is then "sprued". That is, wax tubes are attached all over the wax sculpture so that bronze may easily flow in step 6.
4. The wax, now sprued, is then immersed into a liquid mixture of plaster, sand, and water, which quickly hardens, trapping the wax inside. This is called the investment mold.
5. This investment mold is then burned out - baked in a kiln at l000 degrees Fahrenheit, for a couple of days, until the wax has vaporized. Where the wax was, there is now a cavity. Molten bronze will be poured into this cavity, in step 6.
6. Bronze, heated to a liquid and glowing 2000 +F, will be poured into the mold. It flows through the sprues until the mold is full.
7. In several hours the metal will cool enough for the investment mold to be broken and washed away.
8. Next is the cleanup...The (now bronze) sprues are cut off, the surface will be retexured, and some welding may be required, too. Certainly there will be filing, grinding, sandblasting, and other hand work.
9. Finally, the patina is applied and the piece is finished.Yes it is a lot of work, and it takes several weeks to finish one piece of sculpture.
For further information about us and our work call (770)479-7289 or e-mail: info@ByrdMountain.com
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