Indian Bronze Sculpture - Seeker's Thoughts

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Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

Indian Bronze Sculpture


Indian Bronze Sculpture


Each bronze sculpture we offer is one-of-a-kind, carefully hand-carved by skilled artisans from Southern India who use lost wax casting techniques for generations to craft incredible Hindu god sculptures.


Art of crafting bronze images reached its pinnacle during the Chola period in Tamil Nadu's Kumbakonam during which time Nataraja, or Shiva dancing his dance, was developed and refined into its iconic figure.





Bronze is an extremely malleable metal that can be bent and molded into many different forms, while also maintaining great detail. Due to this quality, bronze makes for ideal carving material when carving religious images that involve intricate details. 


Casting process of bronze sculpture involves several stages. Lost wax casting requires creating a mold around a wax model before melting away its wax layer to reveal an open space into which molten bronze can flow; alternatively resin-bonded sand casting uses resin for creating molds into which bronze molten pours; although this method tends to produce smaller statues due to its limited size of molding process.


Wax Chasing: the Initial Step The first step in creating the mold for a bronze sculpture starts with "wax Chasing," an intricate process of joining any loose pieces of wax together and smoothing out seams with heat-activated soldering irons or tools (dental tools are great). 


When completed, an artist reviews it before moving on to "Spruing," where channels (or nalis) are added onto the wax version to allow molten bronze to enter and create artwork.


Once the nalis are prepared, a crucible filled with liquid bronze is pulled by crane from its gas furnace and lifted by crane out. Two artisans work in unison during this process: one is responsible for pouring while the other balances it to prevent any dross or slag from forming on its surface.


Once all nalis are secured in place, one to two centimeters of China Clay are applied over the exterior surface of the wax sculpture for two d

ays before holes are cut into its base to act as passageways for nalis, bronze alloy and displaced air.

Indian sculptors excelled at mastering bronze during the 11th and 12th centuries, producing magnificent statues such as Nataraja (dancing Shiva images). Furthermore, Jain tirthankaras were also created with great finesse during this time period.



Wax Modeling


Ancient Indians were well acquainted with bronze casting through lost wax technique, commonly referred to as bronze casting or casting lost wax technique. Bronze is an alloy composed of copper with tin and sometimes zinc; therefore its ancient artists mastering both processes created sculptural masterpieces of exquisite beauty that would remain treasured pieces over centuries.


First step in creating a bronze is modeling it in clay, with great care taken as any flaws will transfer over to the final bronze piece during molding. When complete, sculptors return over it with finer details to touch up any areas not visible in the final product and even make sure that its surface remains even and smooth as any imperfections in wax will also affect its final product.


Once the clay mold is complete, it is covered with a rough coating of clay, soil and sand to increase strength and help with weight distribution when casting bronze. Once this step is completed, de-waxing occurs by heating, and wax melts away revealing an hollowed out clay model that retains all original details and shapes; wax rods attached to this positive clay model serve as channel systems that feed molten bronze to all areas of its image while simultaneously allowing gases and air escape during casting process.


Family of bronze artisans in Tamil Nadu working on a large standing Shiva piece. Raja (pictured on the left) and his son work together at their home-turned-bronze studio; both need work to provide for their families, with Raja's young son having talent that may one day see him join his father as an artisan like them all. Unfortunately, India's caste system limits many careers opportunities for most workers but all enjoy doing what they love while producing fine works of art with great pride and passion.




Indian bronze sculptures depicting Hindu gods and goddesses were produced during the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries using the time-honored Lost Wax technique and are known for their detailed craftsmanship and classical styles.


Start the casting process off right by creating a wax "positive," which is then placed inside a rubber mold and coated evenly with paste; this process is known as "slushing," and requires great skill as clay must be heated just right to avoid melting away too much wax inside the mold. After complete, the rubber mold is taken off, and you are left with an exact wax copy from which your castings can be made.


Once a wax copy has been sculpted and cleaned, it is ready for the next stage of casting process. Casting clay is covered with a thick mixture composed of sand, soil and clay before reinforcing with thin rods of wax known as nalis; these passageways allow molten bronze to flow through and exhaust any air during pouring stages.


Once the nalis are set, the wax model is heated up until all its details melt away into a clay mold that accurately reproduces them. This "positive" is then prepared for what's known as 'The Dance of the Pour", whereby two artisans lift a crucible from a gas furnace while crane holds it above the nalis while maintaining balance - this person being known as a "lead pour." Another person then acts as "dead man," keeping its balance.

Cast bronze will then cool until it becomes solid enough for handling, usually about an hour after pouring has taken place. Skill and strength are necessary to remove the investment from the cast bronze through devesting; during this step sprues and gates may also be removed using power chisels.




India has long been famous for its bronze sculpture. Bronze is an alloy composed of copper and tin that Indians learned to cast using the lost wax technique. A series of steps culminate in creating an amazing work of art which can be displayed indoors or outdoors.


Step one in creating a bronze sculpture involves using a rubber mold to produce a "positive." Wax is melted at 210 deg F and evenly applied across its interior surfaces, taking care not to melt any areas that will later be joined together with metal. Finally, the mold is closed.


If the sculpture is very large or complex, the casting process may involve breaking it into multiple sections for easier placement of bronze pours. Once complete, these parts will be rejoined into its entirety after joining. Next is creating channels around the outside of the wax positive known as sprues to help move molten bronze in and out of mold during casting process - typically thin rods of wax connected to its base called "nalis."


As part of the spruing process, great care must be taken not to damage any of the fine details found on a wax figure. Sprue channels must also be checked closely to make sure there have been no "short pours" of bronze. At this stage, a sculptor becomes actively involved by inspecting their integrity as well as rectifying any flaws using soldering irons or dental tools (dental gypsum board is an ideal medium).


After casting bronze and removing its sprues, its surface must be refined by abrasion to smooth and polish it for any oils, oxides or inconsistencies. Additionally, this helps prepare it for patination applications.


Patinas are coatings of chemical compounds applied to bronze to provide both aesthetic and practical advantages. This protective finish prevents corrosion while making the metal more resistant to scratches and other forms of damage; typically applied by skilled artisans known as patineurs.

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