Doug Downs

Limited Edition Lost Wax Bronze Sculptures

From Wax to Bronze:  Doug explains Lost-wax casting.

1.  I carve my original sculpture in wax.  In order to create a limited edition, I take my original waxes and make molds of them.  It' a 5-day process which I learned from master mold-maker /sculptor Chris Davis of Mavern, England.

2.  Every sculpture in each edition begins life as a wax being poured into molds.  The mold material will pick up every detail.

3.  I melt wax at 180 degrees and pour it into the molds, allow it to harden, then remove the wax model.  I remove the seam lines, assemble the parts, and then resculpt these areas with a carving tool.

4.  I take the wax model to the Monterey Sculpture Center where craftsman John Flury attaches wax cups to act as gates for the molten bronze.  He then covers the wax model with several layers of ceramic slurry building up to form a shell which will be fired in oven and the wax will be melted out.  Every wax is "lost" before the bronze can be poured into the empty shell.

5.  I take the raw casting to my shop and "chase" or finish the bronze by resculpting areas where the sprues were attached.  Chasing a sculpture will take me from hours to several days depending on the complexity.

6.  After the chasing is complete, I sandblast with a very fine sand which cleans without decreasing the detail.  Then I appy a patina which reacts with the surface of the bronze.  I hand rub it to get the effect I'm after.  Then I mount the completed sculpture on a hand-crafted wooden base made by artist/craftsman Craig Lauterbach.  This is a lenthy, exacting process we go through for each bronze in every edition that I make.  I do every process myself except the casting.  There are no shortcuts to high quality.