If you’ve been to any historical monuments or large parks, you’ve probably seen a large bronze statue of a famous person, or perhaps of animals. Admittedly, I’ve never questioned how these figures were made, but there is a huge amount of work that goes into it, especially before the very recent advent of 3D printing. The sculpture in the gallery below reportedly took 5 years to complete.
The sculptures, as seen in this imgur set, are first mocked up on a huge amount of foam. Carving of this foam is made based on a relatively tiny model of the figure called a maquette, which is French for “scale model.” This step is where 3D printing has been recently added to the process. The giant foam sculpture can be created by hand, as you can see below, or in some cased even 3D printed with a large printer like the moose you see above.
This model is then covered and further sculpted with a thin layer of clay. Molds are constructed from the sculpture and sectioned into smaller more manageable pieces.
Once the molds are made, the assembly is boxed up and transported to a foundry where liquid bronze is poured to make the sculpture permanent. The pieces are welded together, sandblasted, and sprayed with patina to give it the nice dark finished look typical of many bronze sculptures.
As technology has changed, 3D printing is making some of this process easier, but it seems like it’s still an incredibly labor-intensive process. One would definitely want to avoid getting stiffed on a project like this!