Behind the scenes of the bronze making process
Holly works with a vast array of materials such as; sandstone, limestone, hebel, various hardwoods and softwoods, bronze, sterling silver and solid gold. With each material being unique, Holly uses a vast array of tools, practices and techniques to finish her pieces. This ranges from intricate hand carving through to yielding an angle grinder to carve, shape and form the materials.
With every design comes different requirements, processes and technique. These often necessitate the use of new tools and materials to achieve the vision, all these skills are part and parcel of the artist’s ever evolving arsenal.
Holly’s latest work’s have incorporated bronze for the first time. The bronze sculpting process is labour intensive, arduous and - almost always - time-consuming.
The first step in creating a bronze sculpture requires moulding and carving plasticine and wax ‘maquettes’. These maquettes allow the artist to further refine the design or even explore new creative ideas.
Once finished the maquettes are attached to a wax tree and immersed in a high density clay mixture. After the mixture has set, it is fired in a kiln, melting the internal wax and leaving behind a mould strong enough to endure the molten temperatures of the bronze pour.
Following the bronze pour is the most challenging component of the design; cleaning up and polishing the bronze. The initial bronze figures are course, with varying textures and imperfections. Many of these imperfections are an inherent in the process of casting molten bronze. The bubbles and grooves occur naturally in the casting process.
To refine these figures Holly must use sandpaper, dremels, files and saws to smooth these imperfections and create the high-sheen finish that showcases the beauty of the weightiness of bronze.
After the pieces have been shaped into their finished form, they are then polished, waxed and fired. This creates a glossy, timeless finish that allows the bronze to maintain its lustre and develop a lighter and more gradual patina.
To complement the smooth form of the bronze figures, Holly has incorporated recycled timber bases with a shou sugi ban finish. The Japanese art of shou sugi ban preserves and finishes wood using fire. Each base - once carved - is fired, sanded and washed multiple times to ensure an even treatment.
As with the bronzes, the wood is then coated in wax to both finish its preservation and add a subtle lustre to the timber’s grain. Once finished the bronze and timber components are married together. While both exhibiting beauty in their individual form, together they create a stark contrast, that allow each material to complement the other’s unique textures.
The final sculptures, which take a minimum of two to three months to create exhibit a harmony of natural materials, forms and tones. Each one unique in its composition, story and design.