Clay to Bronze

 
An early drawing of the Atlantic Salmon

An early drawing of the Atlantic Salmon

Paul's sculptures are born out of a desire to capture a creature in an 'instance in time'. Often inspired by his time on the riverbank, these snapshots seek to reproduce every motion, character, and aspect of the fish at a precise moment. To do this, a sculpture is first drawn, and redrawn, on paper. This image is then crafted into a physical model, sculpted out of clay over the course of several weeks. Following the creation of a clay model, it is then time to cast the fish in bronze using the 'Lost Wax' casting process. 

"Before a brief description of the Lost Wax process used to founder my fish is given, I would first like to acknowledge and offer sincere thanks to all those at the Castle Fine Arts Foundry. Without the discerning skills, patience, and attention to detail of those at the foundry, the ultimate transition from clay to bronze would not be possible" - Paul Dady

Through the Lost Wax casting process, Paul's sculptures are created using the same techniques and methods employed for over six thousand years. Evidence of the casting of metals using the Lost Wax process have been discovered in the Middle East dating from as early as 4500 BC. Whilst advancements in the materials used have been made since that time, the process itself still remains unaltered.

Original clay sculpture of the Atlantic Salmon

Original clay sculpture of the Atlantic Salmon

From the Artist’s original sculpture, in this case created in clay, a silicone mould is taken. For sculptures such as Paul's, which are often too complex to be conducive to an even investment (flow) of bronze, then various aspects of the work may be detached from the original and moulded separately to be reattached at a later point.

After removal of the original clay work, molten wax is then poured into the silicone mould. The wax is left to harden. The silicon mould is then removed leaving an exact wax replica of the original pieces.

Head and tail of the Atlantic Salmon coated in ceramic, featuring drainage sprues

Head and tail of the Atlantic Salmon coated in ceramic, featuring drainage sprues

At this point numerous ducts known as sprues, are added at key places on the wax, to allow both a clean draining of the wax, and later an unchecked flow of bronze (investment) in the final casting. The wax replica including the sprues, are then coated in several seperate layers of ceramic until a thick cast is formed, at which point it is then  left to harden.

Molten bronze being poured into ceramic casts

Molten bronze being poured into ceramic casts

Once hardened, the ceramic is heated to melt and drain the wax from the cast through the sprues (thus giving the Lost Wax process its name). This leaves a hollow shell of hardened ceramic which once heated and protected, will be able to take the molten bronze. As the bronze is poured, trapped air and gasses escape through the sprues, allowing the bronze to flow unhindered into all parts of the shell.

After the bronze has cooled and hardened, the ceramic is struck away to reveal the final bronze sculpture. At this point the components are skillfully reassembled, joints are meticulously aligned, fixed, and chased and any founding blemishes amended.

Fire treating the Atlantic Salmon

Fire treating the Atlantic Salmon

The exact facsimile of the artist’s original work in bronze can then be patinated. This is achieved by the skillful acceleration of the naturally occurring process of oxidation, done by the repeated application of selective acids and heat. Once the desired finish is achieved, the effect is sealed and enhanced with a final coating of wax which provides a depth and richness to the finish.