In earlier articles we introduced the origin of bronze and its enormous impact on sculpture, and determined the selection process of the sculpture to be created.
I am a figurative sculptor, therefore, my methods of sculpturing may not apply to abstract work for too many reasons to go into here. Google describes, “A figurative sculpture as one that represents the visible world (humans, animals, trees, etc.)”. For this short article we will assume that a figurative statue of modest size of a man or woman has been selected to be made. Once the pose for the sculpture has been determined I will create a nude figure of the man or woman. This is done whether or not the statue will be nude or clothed. Most often this requires bringing in a model to pose in the nude. We measure all dimensions of the body and particularly the distance between ALL bones of the body. We do this using the metric measuring system which is more precise than our American measuring system. This is done to facilitate creating ratios which are critical in creating different size figures to scale. In our example, we have measured a 66 inch woman and desire to make her into a sculpture of approximately 20 inches tall. Doing that requires making a ratio by dividing 66 into 20 which equals .303. This ratio must then be multiplied by every number that we have measured for every bone and dimension in the body.
Regardless of the size of the sculpture, a drawing of the armature is then made to the exact scale of the future sculpture. An outline of the desired figure is sketched on the same drawing as the armature drawing.
Larger sculptures are often made around a core of hard insulation that can be glued together to make an object of almost limitless size and yet is quite light. The finishing image is made by applying the clay over the insulation. However, for this 20 inch sculpture and most sculptures, the armature is made of aluminum wire, scarified by a sharp tool to allow the future application of clay to adhere securely to the wire. Next, the armature will be shaped by using the drawing as a template to cut and bend the wire to what will look like the skeleton of the future sculpture. The armature wire is marked at joint points such as the knees, elbows, finger joints, etc. These marks will allow the bending of the armature to the exact pose that the sculpture would be when complete. I use an oil based clay to form the figure over the armature wire. In the next article, we will finish the clay and prepare it for the final steps in creating a bronze sculpture.