Once our client reviewed and approved the images of Alexander the Great [from a vast selection of photographs of every Alexander bust and full figure sculpture ever done] sourced from the internet and various books, then the sculptor went to work using just a limited number of images - so as not to get confused as to which sculpture to recreate. This would seem obvious enough, but often times too many pictures is worse than too few. So sticking with one or two images, and maybe a third at most, to base the final artwork on, helps everything turn out as expected.
Our sculptor began resculpting the masterpiece by applying flat sections of clay for the chest muscles and trapezius muscles and filled in the neck to get the proportions right for the upper body to match the head - as only a true master sculptor can do through minor anatomical and muscular exaggerations. Usually a chicken wire oval ball is made to attach directly to the armature for form of the head. The basic shape of the face and head is therein formed. Chinese terra cotta warrior style hollow clay sculpting would require the head to be made by rolling clay into long rolls, or strips, and then built them up layer by layer by blending and smoothing each clay roll into the next without leaving any air pockets. The simularity in the two sculpting styles is because the Chinese terra cotta warriors were fired in a kiln after they were sculpted and they had to be 100% clay to keep the sculpture cracking or even exploding during the clay firing process. As you can imagine hollow sculpting is a very tedious process and requires that the sculptor almost be a structural engineer, as much as an artist, to keep their artwork from accidentally falling over, or collapsing, when sculpting such a large statue.
That's why most of your modern sculpting is done with a throw away concept in a inexpensive and easy to work temporary material, that only needs to last long enough for a mold to be completed. Otherwise, most permanent original sculptures are better when carved in marble, or other stones, or using different types of imported hard woods. The advantages of wood or marble carvings is that they immediately avoid the mold making labor costs and associated material costs are eliminated.
Most of the artists in the world don't have access to much in the way of technology so they use what's at hand: wood and stone. The obvious disadvantage is that it may take longer for an artist to carve out of hard wood, marble, granite, or stone, and the cost to ship the heavy artwork from the artist, often located overseas, to the client can add up. Whereas a typical professional sculptor in North America, or Europe, these days uses either inexpensive clay, foam, or plaster to make a quick original artwork out of an easy to work material which is then converted to a mold of the opposite shape using modern chemistry which is thereafter used to cast quick reproductions for our clients.
The complexity and size of an artwork must be assessed before sculpting begins to determine the best medium for the artist to work in. Whether its going to be sculpted out of clay, worked in plaster, or even carved out of foam is based on the intricacies of the project. Plaster may not be an ideal sculpting medium, even if the final casting will be in plaster, unless it is a repair to a damaged plaster sculpture. Often a softer material is required to shape a sculpture when you don't want to unnecessarily battle with a hard sculpting surface. That is what makes clay the preferred sculpting medium for artworks in the small to medium size range. However, the moisture level of clay must be monitored very closely to avoid over drying, or the opposite: swelling of the clay medium making it disintegrate and become too soft to hold any shape. Sometimes an artist will allow the clay to dry in stages from the ground up so that the lower, weight bearing, portions of the sculpture have time to harden and firm up. Building medium to large size clay statues without an internal armature is an art, perhaps perfected by the hollow Chinese terra cotta warrior sculptors. Only an expert sculptor should attempt such an ancient art technique without ending in disaster, when either the sculpture tips over like fallen tree by being too heavy on one side, or too soft and wet (or a combination of both).
The base for the Alexander the Great Bust is a regal column with a faux marble finish and gold leafing on the lower ring of the column and the gold on the capital leafing. See the unpainted casting next to the faux marble painted reproduction of Alexander. Notice the comparison between the original Alexander the Great sculpture and the resculpted Alexander the Great bust by our art department head sculptor Karoy. See for yourself the remarkable similarity in the silhouette profile of Alexander even before the clay sculpture's hair was completed.
This Hercules statue, actually two statues oriented upside down to each other, was made using a technique similar to the terra cotta warrior sculptures of China. The reason for this is simple: Both our sculpted clay Hercules statue and the terra cotta warriors were built to be fired in a kiln. This makes for a very challenging task because the legs, torso, arms, and head of each individual male figure of the Hercules and Diomedes statue must be built from the bottom up, as a continuous and interconnected hollow structure. The knee and shoulder of the clay Hercules sculpture are left open, as seen in the progress photos, so that the moist air inside the statue can escape allowing it to quickly harden.
Once the general shape of the statue of Hercules and Diomedes was formed in clay, then the artist could sculpt the musculature and bring out the individual muscle definition within his arms and back. All sides of the combined sculpture of Hercules and Diomedes, in an inverted wrestling position, had to be built in a careful and balanced manner because if too much clay was added to one side, and not the other, it could tip over. So both the front and back sides (and the left and right sides) had to be constructed rather symmetrically from the bottom up. If a clay sculpture tips over it can set a sculptor back days, if not weeks, worth of sculpting. Sometimes this is for the better, since the second time a sculptor recreates an artwork it many times will turn out better than if the artwork had never been destroyed in the first place. "Misfortune and good luck are often two sides of the same coin." - credited to an unknown author.
If this statue wasn\'t sculpted hollow on the inside it may have added up to over half a ton of clay. When completed the actual hollow clay Hercules sculpture weighed between 400-500 lbs. That\'s why before a sculpture like this is ever begun it must have a base, or platform, for it to be sculpted on that ideally should be made mobile, preferably with wheels. Also, the final casting work should be done near to where the artwork was made so that no transportation is required. Otherwise you risk damaging a clay sculpture [with no armature] just from the road vibration encountered during driving.
At the base of the statue, between the feet of Hercules is a finely detailed lion face [fitted with a water fountain spout in the final casting] with a flowing mane placed over a tree stump on which Hercules sits on in the final artwork. Part of the technique of making a successful sculpture is to incorporate scenic elements, in this case a tree stump, below your statue so that it has something to support the awkwardly positioned wrestling figures and provide counter balance to the weight of any sculpted details. Our art department is skilled at making almost any sculpture imaginable!
All of the statue details must be decided upon before any art sculpting begins. The use of a couple photographs only is usually enough for our sculpting team to have enough information to make a marble masterpiece. When we get commissioned to make a marble carving, in this case an angel statue holding two babies, our clients may want to make comments and suggestions after receiving photo updates via email to ensure that the sculpting goes along according to their preferences. Since carving a marble statue is so permanent it is best to refine the artwork concept in clay first, whether oil based (plasticine) or water based clay. In the process of both making a clay sculpture and carving a marble block right next to it, two sculptures have actually been made, one is used temporary to make the other more permanent version. This is a theme repeated many times when it comes to making a masterpiece, it is the way of a master sculptor. There is an additional charge for the clay sculpting service, but its worth it if there are particular details that you want to refine after the sculpting has begun.
"I say that the art of sculpture is eight times as great as any other art based on drawing, because a statue has eight views and they must all be equally well made." Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), Italian Baroque goldsmith and sculptor, in a letter to Benedotto Varchi, January 28, 1547.
Sculpting a maquette is the equivalent of a rough draft for a book, or a pencil sketch for a painting. The more preparation that goes into an artwork, and for that matter this is true for anything in life,the more perfected it becomes. The results even become more impressive for the sculptor to make a small figurine sized sculpture first, then a two to three foot tall sculpture version, then move up to a life-size statue five feet to six feet tall. Every time a sculptor is sculpting the same statue again from scratch they learn more about the proportions, fine details, and things that can be improved on since the last time. Depending on the size and final material the maquette could be sculpting out of wax, clay, plaster, and even foam depending on the project requirements.
When a classical statue is commissioned, especially (as in this case) a female Venus De Milo figure with flowing clothing, instead of sculpting every fold of the fabric's texture, as would be the case if the only material used to make the statue was clay, the most dramatic drapery effects can be achieved by dipping specially cut sections of canvas into freshly mixed batches of plaster and then placing the canvas onto the Venus De Milo statue where the ancient Greek toga clothing should be with every fold included. Incredible and impressive cloth draping effects can be engineered in this way fold by fold.
First our sculptor had to build an armature out of two by four wood planks and steel rods at the core surrounded by chicken wire attached to the wood with staples. The trick to building a proper armature is to get the basic angles and proportions of the statue absolutely correct. Then the outer surface is built with the aid of cutout sections of fiberglass matte dipped into small batches of carefully mixed plaster - just like a paper machete project in school, only with plaster instead of flour and fiberglass instead of newspaper. The trick at this stage is to leave room for the towel, or dress, wrapped around the waist of the Venus De Milo - that must be added later on. One major fold and crease must be created one section at a time by dipping, folding, and nailing the canvas into place and allowing it to dry until the entire clothing of Venus De Milo is finished. In this manner, any dress imaginable can be sculpted and painted with any finish faux texture and color imaginable.
This concept can be applied to window drapes, or door drape box coverings, and can be sculpted to look like the real full shape of fabric drapery while actually being only a sculpture. Many times real fabric drapes get old, fade, become soiled, and are too flat - lacking the fullness that can be created with sculpted drapes by our artists. If you would like our art department to make custom sculpted draperies of your home, or custom drapery boxes for your windows, we will need the measurements for each drapery window section you want, and we will either complete the drapery sculpting on-site (to ensure everything fits as it should) or we can sculpt the draperies in our art workshop and carefully pack and ship them to your location ready for installation by your people, or you may choose to have our staff install them for you. Since we also provide a wide array of faux finishes you can pick a faux texture to paint your drapes with and choose to have them painted before they are shipped, or we can paint your drapery sculptures after they have been installed on-site, just in case there needs to be any touch-ups later on.
Many times in the art creation process it is difficult to put the name of just one artist to an artwork since a sculpture is rarely worked on by just one sculptor, unless it is a relatively small sculpture, and even then two or three sculptors may be utilized to finish it completely. Multiple sculptors commonly work together on an art piece in a skill based hierarchy with the master sculptor doing much of the bulk shaping and refining work until it gets to a point where the apprentices can provide help and reduce the work load on the master sculptor by helping sand, fill, and prepare the final texturing to an artwork. Often a single sculptor tends to lose energy, and momentum, on an art project after spending weeks, or even months, perfecting a single sculpture. Instead of forcing the already spent artist to continue working, a nearly equally skilled sculptor, or an apprentice, can step in to put the finishing details together with a fresh perspective, and insure the artwork is symmetrical and finalized. Often it takes an outside perspective of at least two sculptors to see the things that an isolated artist "in the trenches" might otherwise unintentionally overlook. We view the creation of art as a collective process, as it has always been since the time of Leonardo De Vinci, with a better end product resulting by having more skilled people involved than just one artist. When several sculptors put their heart, soul, blood, and sweat into a sculpture it is not unlike a piece taken from the body and life force of a master sculptor... that's why they call it a masterpiece!
Notice the subtle differences between the three statues of battling male figures wrestling at the top of the page. The one on the left is a faux marble painted small version of the statue, the one on the far right is the actual famous original sculpture in a museum in Italy, and the one in the middle is our sculpture enlargement based on the ten inch tall small version enlarged to sixty inches tall - a six times statue enlargement! Technically, this was a third generation sculpture [a sculpture of a sculpture of a sculpture], all sculpted by completely different artists. The beauty of having a different artists remake a masterpiece each go around is that they can put their own sculpting style into it, giving it a slightly modernized look, while at the same time retaining its original classic art appeal.
One of our clients requested an enlargement of the famous classic wrestling sculpture of Hercules and Diomedes grappling. Because there weren't any large versions of this statue available for sale we decided to have it sculpted from scratch by our art department. If you look carefully at the old carved bone plate picture you can see one standing male figure holding another male figure upside down while four man-eating horses are chewing on him. Fortunately, our sculpture enlargement was based on the smaller statue already in existence, and not the rather grotesque plaque art scene. Our sculptor worked on the enlargement using a ten inch tall version of the Hercules wrestling Diomedes statue by placing it at the same angle of perspective while sculpting each side of the enlarged artwork. By using a previously existing statue we could skip the step of make a maquette and go right into creating the final sculpture enlargement directly in clay.
When a sculptor is working in clay [that will later be fired later on] it must be made as hollow as possible to reduce the weight and increase the ventilation when using clay almost exclusively as your support material. As you may well know, wet clay provides virtually no structural support until it dries, but it must be wet to easily sculpt with it. Therein lies the skill of a clay sculptor that must manage the dryness and wetness levels of various sections of their artwork in addition to sculpting. A sculptor must be patient when creating an all clay sculpture so as to build it only as fast as it can harden and provide structural support for additional clay that must be added on top, especially for a statue of such large proportions. Originally, the enlarged sculpture was going to be fired in a kiln, but then it became quite difficult to find a kiln large enough to fit the statue. Instead, the enlarged Hercules wrestling Diomedes sculpture was molded and reproduced in reinforced concrete with a classic faux bronze painted finish and delivered to our client. Let us know if there is a sculpture that you want made and we will check with our art department what it will take to have it done.
Our custom art client made a suggestion for the Hercules artwork to be more classical in terms of the facial hair, with an older and more aged look, plus more leanness in his muscles. So we put two of our best sculptors on the task. It is interesting how just sculpting shorter facial hair alone can modernize the look of a sculpture! By hollowing out the statue's facial features, especially around his cheek bones, Hercules is given a more realistic muscle tone more akin to the period. As you can see, there was also an enhancement of the definition in the abdominal's, oblique's, back muscles, biceps, triceps, forearms, with additional separations to their thigh muscles.
The upside down figure, Diomedes, also had his head resculpted in order to roughen up his facial hair and make it more wavy instead of being neatly combed, as in the earlier version. The angle of the head was also changed, along with the king's crown. Instead of starting over from scratch often changing just a few portions of an artwork is enough to put it in balance. Compare the different versions of the young Hercules versus the old Hercules as the sculpture is artistically aged, as shown in the side by side pictures.
Notice how the blackened bronze antiquing creates a sense of aging to give the sculpture a more classical period look as seen in the 360 degree rotation of the finished sculpture. The larger version of old Hercules wrestling is also available in faux marble, in any other shade of marble for that matter, or other metal finish, included with any art casting reproduction.
Choose to have our marble carvers make the same sculpture in any size you wish in one solid piece of imported marble. Buy a custom base, or column, along with any statue and receive a bulk discount - call for current offer.