Your Ultimate Guide to

Bronze Statues

Bronze sculptures exude the majesty and timelessness that people covet in a work of art. It is no wonder that bronze is the most requested metal commissioned for statues and sculptures. Bronze is durable, easy to work with, and provides a strong cast foundation for even the most detailed creation.

There are several ways to purchase bronze statues. Customers can approach a sculptor personally to request a specific piece from an existing collection or they can commission one or more metal sculpture through a third party or directly from the sculptor or his agent.

Unlike most metals, bronze actually becomes more illustrious after exposure to the elements. Sun rays cause the bronze sculptures to absorb and radiate light from itself, making bronze statues ideal for garden settings at home or in public art parks. Purchasing a bronze statue can be a great investment, especially for people who love to receive compliments and admire beauty.

What is a Commissioned Statue?

The concept of commissioning statues and sculptures actually dates back for centuries. Bronze was the preferred metal for status symbol sculptures and works of art even then. A specific celebration or sacrifice may require an alter or sacred sculpture to be used in reverence for the event. These specialty items would have been commissioned by the community leaders and ordered from a specific and well reputed sculptor.

A commissioned statue is one that is available for sale through a third party, such as a gallery or a museum of art. This term can also be used in reference to a particular art piece that was requested for a specific reason, event, or theme.

How to Commission a Statue?

Individuals can commission a statue through a few different avenues. Metal sculptures are available in a number of different genres and can be commissioned through a third party art collector, reseller, museum of art curator, or auction house. The commissioning process will vary depending on the method of procurement chosen.

Public auctions and some galleries have pre scheduled sale dates and times when pieces can be commissioned. Specific artists may have contracted with these venues and are required to submit a portion of the proceeds to the management. Some artists protect their work from duplication or track pieces through the resale process by adding a unique and easily identifiable foundry mark on all their pieces.

Collectors look for these marks when adding to their collection because they know what makes one piece especially more valuable than another. Novice collectors and first time buyers should learn the different trademarks of artists so they recognize the value in commissioned pieces.

Read our Ultimate Guide on Commissioning a Bronze Statue

Important Things to Consider When Commissioning a Statue?

The type of casting used is an important consideration when commissioning a statue because this could impact the longevity and overall value of the sculpture. For example, some duplications are made using the lost-wax process. In this method, a duplication of an existing sculpture or statue can be created by recasting the clean product in a new cast. This painstaking process requires the original mold and must be dipped quickly and with a steady hand for maximum effectiveness.

The hot, molten metal is essentially wrapped around the original figure and dipped into a new cast using the lost-wax casting method. These duplications can then be improved upon by the new artist in a number of different ways. An emblem or other detailed engravings can be added, including a new artist signature. While this is most commonly done in honor of the original design, this method could potentially be used to counterfeit the artwork of another creator.

It is important to know a little about the bronze engraving systems before planning to commission a piece. This will ensure that only original pieces or recast but improved pieces are purchased. Reputable industry experts like the staff at Big Statues can help create unique custom and elusive specialty pieces.

Large custom bronze statues are typically commissioned by public agencies and political parties for use in publicly used or common areas. Mold making for bronze statues such as horses or soldiers is generally a time consuming process and these are likely to be commissioned several years in advance. These larger works are typically placed in memorial areas and are often debuted during holidays or specially recognized religious days.

Smaller bronze statues and states may have been made using the sand casting method. This process relies on the addition of a mixture of sand in the mold material. The amount of sand added will decrease the cost of production, but may not impact the final price of the statue or sculpture. There are a variety of reasons to use sand or a mixture of sand and other products in the casting process. The end result is a durable and attractive product ready for sale with minimal setting time. Although the sand cast sculptures may be less likely to withstand harsh sea air, most other elements are no challenge for these sculptures made with sand casting.

The purpose of adding sand to the mixture is for the lower price of production in mass quantities. A popular design such as one featuring animals, people, or vehicles can be quickly replicated using a sand cast. The special foundries used to produce this type of cast are highly specialized and efficient at creating multiple versions of sculptures using the same cast.

Best Time to Commission a Sculpture?

Having been made privy to the information about casting and commissioning a bronze statue, many customers are ready to make their first purchase. Depending on a particular market area, there may be a more preferred time of year to commission a sculpture. The factors related to this decision may include, weather, events, neighborhood renovations, and the individual preferences of the third party offering the commissioning.

To find the best ways to commission a bronze sculpture any time of the year, contact a reputable dealer and request a custom quote for the products of your choice

“Big Statues provided us with a great sculpture for a Veterans Memorial. The piece was a great hit with our community and we have commissioned Matt with a new bronze to be unveiled in the Fall. Flying Doves and Gold Star Banner.”

Ivan Aleksic

Our Process

Step 1

Research and planning

The first step in creating a successful commissioned work is to plan out the scope of the project with you, our patron.  We work together to create sketches and scale miniatures (available for purchase) using resources such as photographs.  It is here we will discuss materials, timeline, and financing.

Step 2

Sculpting the Clay

Following receiving your approval to begin the project, we construct a steel frame, called an armature, to which we affix a foam core.  After sealing the foam core with latex, we’re ready to begin applying hundreds of pounds of hot clay to the frame.  Our artists then spend countless hours molding and sculpting every tiny detail to produce a museum quality work of art

Step 3

Creating the mold

When the clay sculpture is finished, we begin the process of creating a mold of the statue.  The clay is covered in layers of polyurethane or silicon rubber which captures every minute detail.  Plaster is applied to the exterior of the mold as a ridged “jacket” to help the mold hold its shape.  Once the mold is dry, the clay is removed.

Step 4

Wax Replica

The next step in our process is to create a positive wax replica of the original clay sculpture using the molds.  We go over every inch of the replicas, repairing any imperfections such as air bubbles or “short pours.” This process is referred to as wax chasing.

Step 5

Ceramic shell

Once we are satisfied with the quality of the wax replica, we proceed to create a ceramic shell by dipping it into a mixture called slurry.  The ceramic dries to form a hard, durable mold that can withstand the temperatures of molten bronze.  This is often referred to as investment casting. The wax replica is then melted out of the ceramic.

Step 6

Casting the bronze

Solid blocks of 100% USA bronze are heated to temperatures nearing 2250˚F so that liquid bronze can be poured into the ceramic molds.  Once liquid bronze is poured into the ceramic shell, it is left to cool for several hours before being removed from the mold.

Step 7

Welding, Assembling, and Refinement

Once cooled and removed from the ceramic cast, the final raw piece is welded together. Sandblasting remnants of the ceramic mold and fixing texture is a delicate process. Surface coloring is then applied using a variety of chemicals and heat.

Step 8

Delivery and Installation

When the statue is complete, logistics such as shipping and installation are taken care of in coordination with our patrons. Finally, the completed bronze statue is ready for its unveiling.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Bronze Statue

Artist Matt Glenn

Matt Glenn has been creating bronze monuments for over 15 years. He has always loved art and sketching, but did not discover his love and talent to create with clay until one night, when he brought home a small box of clay and had an idea that he wanted to bring to life. Matt worked throughout the night, and by morning, he had created the exact idea that was in his mind. From that moment on, he was hooked!

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