The process of creating a monument starts with the creation of a Maquette which is a small scale model of the monument. These are a size that is convenient to work with. Usually these Maquettes are between 12” and 36” tall. The objective of this creation is primarily to ensure that the clients and the artist have the same vision of the completed project. Often however, these models are reproduced at this size in bronze.

If there are any major changes, they are made in the small size, and once the client has agreed that the Maquette is a good representation of the final piece, the process of producing the final full-sized monument in clay is started.

The following pictures take you through a quick tour showing the steps involving both the art and the science, of scaling up the Maquette to the full size.

First is the painstaking process of taking very precise measurements of the Maquette in all three dimensions from many different angles. Various techniques and tools are used in this process. Among the tools you see here are micrometers and laser beams measuring the Maquette after it has been covered with  a flat white coating.


A high degree of precision is necessary because any error in the measurements would be magnified as everything is scaled up to full size. As you can see by the photos, extraordinary care is taken in getting very accurate measurements.

Once the measurements are taken and recorded it is time to start reproducing the Maquette at monument size.

This is done by another set of precise tools that are much larger in scale but perform the identical functions. To start with, large Polystyrene blocks are carefully cut to fit around a normally steel internal framework that is custom made for each project.  This steel stucture is called an armature and in this case, where the armature supports the entire structure, it is called a support armature.

 

These blocks are joined in such a way that they are larger, in every dimension than the final piece will be. Slowly and painstakingly these blocks are sculpted. The beginning of the process is a drilling of holes in the blocks with custom made tools.  These drill holes penetrate the foam in the upward porportional three-dimensional measurements taken from the Maquette.  This leaves the enormous blocks with holes drilled in them to a depth that is slightly larger than the entended final figure.  This helps the artist and his assistants to quickly remove the large pieces of unneeded material.  This is all done with custom made tools designed precisely for this purpose.
 
Then using a variety of shaping tools including electrically heated wires that cut the excess material as a cheese cutter cuts cheese. This process continues until enough material is removed that the figure as represented by the measurements taken of the Maquette is revealed. At this point, the measuring and drilling end and the artists hand and eye are the tools.

 

The foam figure is reduced to something slightly smaller than the artist actually wants and sealed with heat. Then the final sculpting starts. What exists at this point is a monument sized polystyrene reproduction of the original Maquette.

The artist covers the styrofoam armature (at this point a close approximation of the finished sculpture) with clay and proceeds to do the final detailing of the enlarged sculpture. Also, at this point, the sculptor can make "small adjustments" with clay to improve and complete the piece to his satisfaction.

Clicking here will download a time lapse sequence of the artist applying the clay and beginning to finalize the features on the head of Sally Chisum.  This time-lapse sequence is rather large so it may take some time to download.  For this reason, the download will be in seperate window so you can continue browsing while it downloads.

After the completion of the sculpture, to the artists' satisfaction, the client(s) are brought in to view the final product, and if necessary, suggest minor changes, if desired. Once the final piece is approved by the client(s), the piece moves on to a foundry where molds are made of the entire piece, then wax patterns are fashioned from the mold and prepared for casting into bronze, the final product.

 

     
 
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