Fine Art Bronze and Architectural Sculpture
Mike Curtis Limited Edition Bronze Sculptures are
created by the sculptor in his North Idaho studio. Each is comprised
of the highest quality bronze found anywhere in the world. Mike
Curtis sculptures are cast utilizing the ancient lost-wax method,
the premier method of fine art bronze casting, and he is “hands-on”
throughout the entire process from start to finish. The following
information will help you to understand the many steps, requiring
several months, which comprise this laborious and intensive process.
The result is a magnificent work of art, created and cast in the
United States, by the leading sculptor of the bald eagle as well
as many other fascinating wildlife subjects.
Curtis first sculpts the original in clay or wax. Upon completion
of the original sculpture, a pliable silicone rubber mold is carefully
applied. This mold captures every detail put into the original
work, and is one of the most critical phases in the bronze process.
The mold is used to create an exact duplicate of the original
the desired thickness is achieved on the rubber mold, a plaster
shell is then applied over it. This plaster shell will retain
the shape of the rubber mold when the mold is removed from the
clay. Once removed, the rubber molds are used to form a wax duplicate
of each section by pouring hot wax into the rubber mold to produce
an exact replica of the original. When cool, the wax castings
are carefully removed from the molds.
Several hours are spent working by hand with the wax to reproduce
all of the detail of the original. The wax casting is gated with
wax tube-like fixtures, called sprues, to allow even flow of molten
metal and to alleviate the trapping of air and gas. A sprue cup
is placed onto the sprues to receive the molten bronze. The wax
casting is then dipped repeatedly over a period of a week in liquid
ceramic slurry. Several layers of fine, medium, and coarse silica
sand are applied, creating a stable ceramic shell, which is allowed
to cure for several days. This process creates a ceramic shell
around the wax reproduction of the original.
completely dry, the piece, now coated in a ceramic shell is fired
in a burnout kiln. This bakes the ceramic shell and eliminates
the wax, which escapes through the hollow tubes created by the
sprues, leaving a cavity in its place. (Thus the term "Lost-Wax").
The ceramic shells are removed from the kiln and propped into
position for pouring. Ingots of bronze are heated until they turn
molten. The molten bronze, at a temperature of 2100 degrees Fahrenheit,
is poured into the hollow ceramic shell, filling the space that
was left when the wax was lost. The tubes now work to evenly distribute
the bronze to all areas of the shell. The sculpture is left to
cool. After cooling for several hours, the ceramic shell is carefully
broken away, revealing the bronze sculpture within. A cutting
torch is used to remove the sprues.
Fine sand particles are blasted under air pressure to remove
the last traces of ceramic shell that adheres to the bronze. Many
weeks of grinding, chasing (tooling), welding, sanding and polishing
are performed to insure the sensitivity and exact detail of each
work of art.
The final stage in the completion of the bronze is the application
of the color patina finish, with chemicals and heat, to create
the desired effect. Much like a fine painting, the application
of the patina is a unique work of art in itself.
When all of the finish tooling, patina, and precious metal finishes
(such as gold and silver) have been applied, the sculpture is
mounted on a granite and/or wood base which is designed specifically
for each work of art.
For orders or additional information, you are
welcome to e-mail Mike Curtis at:
To order a Mike Curtis