Ever been to Dunedin, Florida? If not, go visit the Dunedin Train Museum. It's a local history museum located in downtown Dunedin. Founded in 1970, the museum is housed in a former railroad depot built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1924. Randolph Rose Collection created a series of three custom statues for the train museum. A conductor calling out as a mother & daughter race for the train, set in the 1920s. One of our favorite projects!
Public Bronze Art Makes for Happy People
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Why is Bronze Used for Statues?
Bronze has a number of unique properties that make it well-suited for statues. It is strong yet also malleable, meaning it can be easily shaped. It is also a durable metal that doesn't corrode easily in the weather. This combination of qualities makes bronze the perfect material for statues, which are often exposed to the elements.
Bronze can also be tinted a wide variety of colors, allowing artists to create statues in a range of hues. Additionally, bronze has a beautiful shine that can make statues look truly majestic. This combination of factors means that bronze is often the material of choice for creating statues.
How is Bronze Made?
Bronze is made by combining copper and tin. The two metals are melted down and then poured into a mold. When the bronze cools, it solidifies and can be used to create sculptures or other objects.
The process of making bronze is not as simple as it might seem. It takes a great deal of skill to combine the two metals in the right proportions and to melt them down properly. This is why bronze is often seen as a high-quality material. It is not easy to produce, but the end result is worth the effort.
Compared to other alloys, bronze is relatively easy to cast and sculpt. This means that artists can create intricate designs using this material. It also has a pleasing texture that is different from other metals. These factors make bronze a popular choice for many artisans.
What are the Different Types of Bronze?
There are a few different types of bronze that are commonly used in statues. These include bell metal, tombac, and phosphor bronze.
Bell metal is a type of bronze that is often used for church bells. It has a high tin content, which gives it a bright golden color. Tombac is a type of bronze that contains a higher percentage of copper than tin, with 5-20% zinc content. It has a dark reddish brown color and is often used to make medals and other decorative objects. Phosphor bronze is a type of bronze that contains high levels of phosphorous. This gives it a bluish green color and makes it resistant to corrosion. It is often used in bearings for ship propellers, springs, and electrical contacts.
Each type of bronze has its own unique properties that make it well-suited for certain applications. Artists and sculptors need to be aware of these differences when choosing the right type of bronze for their project.
What is the History of Bronze Sculpture?
Bronze sculpture has a long and storied history. The first bronze sculptures were created thousands of years ago in ancient Greece and Rome. These sculptures were often used to honor important figures or to commemorate important events.
Since then, bronze sculpture has been used in a variety of settings. It has been used to adorn buildings, to decorate parks, and to enhance public spaces. Additionally, bronze sculpture has been used by artists to create some of the most iconic pieces of art in history.
Bronze sculpture is a timeless form of art that has been enjoyed by people for centuries. It is an excellent way to celebrate the human form and to showcase the creativity and skill of the artist. If you are interested in sculpture, then bronze is a material you should definitely explore.
What are the Advantages of Bronze?
There are a number of advantages to using bronze for statues. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Strength: Bronze is a strong metal that doesn't easily corrode. This makes it ideal for statues, which can often be exposed to the elements.
- Malleability: Bronze can be easily shaped, which allows artists to create intricate designs.
- Durability: Bronze is a durable material that can withstand the weather and other harsh conditions.
- Versatility: Bronze can be tinted a variety of colors, allowing artists to create sculptures in a range of hues.
- Shine: Bronze has a beautiful shine that can make statues look truly majestic.
These factors make bronze a popular choice for creating statues. It has the strength to withstand the elements, the versatility to be tinted any color, and the shine to make it stand out. No other metal can match the combination of qualities that bronze offers.
How are Bronze Statues Made?
Bronze statues aren’t made like marble statues. While marble statues can be carved from a single block, bronze statues are formed using a lost-wax process that was developed around 4500 BCE. When a sculptor is inspired by the human form to capture the essence in bronze, there are a series of steps that need to be completed before the final piece is produced. Each sculpture is unique and fabricated following careful consideration and planning.
The process involves forming a mold that is used to cast the bronze sculpture. The shape of the mold is determined by the final design.
The creation process for bronze sculptures is a very detailed and labor-intensive process that begins with clay — your statue will be sculpted in clay first as it will allow for the most opportunity to capture fine details. Clay boasts very different properties than stone or any other material so it allows a lot more freedom to carve into the substance and sculpt more minute details.
Detailing can be an arduous process that requires the sculptor to become intimately familiar with the clay’s texture and characteristics. The sculptor then begins to sculpt their design into the clay using a traditional technique. In some cases, clay is cut into multiple sections that are individually molded and cast.
Once the clay has been sculpted, the statue will be cast in a mold. To create a negative mold of the clay piece, a liquid mixture of silicon rubber is applied to each section of the clay sculpture. When the rubber cures, it is encased it in a plaster mother mold to hold the form in place. Usually, molds are "walnut shell" concepts, comprised of two halves separated by a seam. Molds are used to duplicate sculptures in a limited edition and will be destroyed once the full edition has been cast.
After removing the original clay sculpture from the rubber mold, wax is heated to approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit and poured into the rubber mold, creating a thin coating. The wax pattern—with its delicate, refined details—work as a “guide” for further layers of wax buildup. Afterwords, the wax is hand finished, or “chased,” to reveal the originally sculpted details and textures.
Wax rods and funnels are attached to the wax sculpture to alleviate the trapping of air and gas. This action promotes a uniform temperature throughout the figure, avoids partial curing and warping, and gives it strength and integrity.
Investment & Burnout
The wax duplicate is coated with a liquid ceramic (Investment phase). This is done several times to create a stable mold. In this process, molten ceramic is poured around the wax piece. Once this bakes (Burnout phase), the shell and the wax melts out, leaving a hollow inside that is ready for the bronze.
Pouring & Removal of Ceramic Shell
Bronze is melted at 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and poured into the cured ceramic shell. After the bronze cools, the ceramic shell is carefully removed. Our bronze sculpture is now ready for finishing.
Bronze sculptures are sandblasted and cleaned to remove any fragments of the mold. Artists will hand finish the bronze to look exactly like the original. A patina is used to give bronze sculptures an aged, stone appearance. This is done by rubbing the sculpture with ground sand mixed with acid. A coat of wax may be applied as a sealant to protect the sculpture's surface.
The lost-wax process can seem complicated, but when broken down into smaller segments, it is easier to see the overall picture. Artists must have a vision of what they are going to create and be willing to invest a lot of time and energy into their art.
What is Patina and How it is Used with Bronze Sculptures
All of the bronze statues we create at Randolph Rose Collection Design Studio have patina. It’s used to accentuate pieces, provide contrast, imply age, introduce color to the bronze, and sometimes to add a dose of reality to our detailed statues.
If you’ve seen any of our pieces in person or on our website, you’ve seen patina. You may just not be familiar with the term and meaning behind it.
What is Patina?
Patina refers to a natural oxidation process common in some metals when they are exposed to air and water. It is common in bronze and copper. However, rust on steel is a type of patina. So is tarnish on silver.
Oxygen and water molecules react with the metal and form a layer of corrosion that discolors the metal. Think of the Statue of Liberty. This statue is clad in copper sheets, but its long exposure to the air and water has corroded the copper, giving it the statue’s iconic green color. That green color is patina, therefore the Statue of Liberty is the perfect example of a beautiful patina statue.
Achieving Patina on Bronze Sculptures Patina?
In an artistic sense, you can think of patina as anything applied to or done to the surface of a metal to alter its color and appearance. This can be a forced chemical reaction, a varnish, and even gilding.
The same general process behind the formation of patina can be used for creative effect. While the Statue of Liberty may have taken years—even decades—to form its patina, a sculptor can replicate and accelerate the patina process to add various colors to the bronze. The processes we use, however, creates patina in a fraction of the time it would take to appear naturally.
What Color are Randolph Rose Collection Bronze Statues?
The native color of bronze is gold. Randolph Rose Collection uses different chemicals and processes to introduce variations of color.
Many of our bronze statues are seen in a deep brown color. For instance, the Davy Crockett Custom Bronze Statue from our collection appears with a dark patina. For this desired color result, a sculptor or artist might apply heat and Potash (also known as Liver of Sulfur) to the bronze.
Since bronze is composed of copper, many of our statues come with the green-blue patina that naturally forms on copper. The Greco Roman Vintage Putto and Fish Fountain shows a green patina, which gives it a natural, aged appearance. To achieve this color, our craftspeople apply Cupric Nitrate.
There are many combinations of chemicals, heat, and cold that can result in beautiful colors and finishes on bronze. Patinas can also be applied in layers to accomplish a beautiful assortment of interesting artistic effects.
Creating a beautiful patina on bronze is a craft that requires an understanding of how bronze ages, the various chemicals used for patina, how the surface of it is finished, and a skilled hand. Some might say it is becoming a lost art. We at Randolph Rose Collection pride ourselves on masterful bronze patina statues.