Ideas come from all over for Renee. In the middle of the night, she might think, “I want to create this subject of sculpture”. Sometimes she uses past experiences of extensive travel in Africa or goes to the library to study subjects.
Renee is self-taught, so she has had twenty years of teaching herself sculpture and how to start the sculpting process. The design of the subject is the most important. She has a variety of categories of sculpture: birds, figurative, marine, wildlife, corporate sculptures, and art for the door.
When she creates her tabletop sculptures, she usually will just begin the process. With her corporate, or life-size, sculptures, Renee will more than likely create what she calls, “a small sketch” first to make sure all the details will be accurate in the large, final sculpture.
Sculptures are 3-dimensional and should be viewed that way. Renee takes the time to make sure her pieces can be viewed accurately from all angles. She likes her pieces to be realistic.
The Process – Lost Wax Process
Once I have created the original sculpture, usually in clay, the process of turning this original into a limited edition bronze begins. My pieces are cast by the “lost wax method”.
The original piece is cut up in sections for the casting. Each section has to go through the process described below.
First a mold is made, referred to as the “mother mold,” directly from my original clay sculpture (pieces), using coats of liquid rubber or silicon, then backed with plaster or fiberglass. The Mother mold is opened and the original clay is removed. This clay can be reused. The mold is now ready for the next step.
Hot wax is then poured into the latex rubber “mother mold” in many coats. For each coat, wax is poured in and out of the mold, cooling for a short time, producing a hollow wax copy of the original sculpture. The latex mold can be used again, to make numerous wax copies. For each bronze a complete wax sculpture is needed.
The wax pattern is carefully removed from the latex mold, inspected, and any flaws are painstakingly removed, or “chased” by hand.
A wax pouring cup and wax shafts (known as “sprues”) are attached to each part of the sculpture. These will ultimately serve as channels for the molten bronze to flow through. A second mold, a rigid ceramic shell, is formed by dipping each wax duplicate repeatedly in a vat containing liquid slurry and then coating it with silica sand. This process takes several days in a climate controlled room. Once the ceramic shell has dried, it is hardened by firing it in a kiln. The heat causes the wax to melt, leaving a hollow negative to receive the molten bronze that will be poured into it. Thus the name “Lost Wax”.
Molten bronze is poured into the cup, which flows through the sprue rods attached to the sculpture and fills the lost space made by the wax. The bronze must cool completely, and then the ceramic shell will be broken off to reveal the bronze sculpture within.
The individual pieces of the sculpture are welded back together. The imperfections and weld lines are “chased” out, and the texture is restored for final finish.
The last step is the coloration of the bronze sculpture through the application of heat and different chemicals. This produces a permanent colored finish called “patina,” and completes the transformation of the sculpture into a piece of lasting fine art.
Renee listens to her sculptures. They take on their own life, especially the figurative pieces. This is done by not letting herself become too rigid, she allows herself to listen and talk with her sculptures. Most pieces have a story and have meaning and she listens to what the piece should look like. It comes to life.
Clay is able to give her sculptures flexibility and movement. Things can change at the last minute and that is important to Renee.
The Finishing Point
It’s all about the magic. When Renee gets to the point where there is nothing more that can be done to the sculpture and it has the “magic”, it’s complete. Some sculptures have magic from the beginning and can be finished in as little as an hour or two. Others can take weeks or months. Each piece is individual, so timing is different on each. She has the ability to “just know” when a piece is complete.
Renee has always been able to see the end result. When she creates her sketch or through the vision in her head, Renee can picture how it will look after the sculptures have been cast in the bronze.