mold has completely cooled usually the following morning the
piece is ready to enter the finishing stage of the process.
First the bronze must be released from the now burned, earthen
mold. A hammer and chisel are used to break open the mold. The
worker must remove all the excess earth that surrounds the
bronze. Using the hammer and chisel he is able to hammer out
the earth that is baked into the hard to reach place like
beneath the arms or between the legs. When the worker finishes
removing all the excess earth from the bronze what is left is a
blackened basic outline of the bronze figure and separate base.
The separate base is then welded to the figure creating for the
first time a rough outline of the entire piece.
Using a hammer & chisel to
remove the earthen mold
The piece is then given to another worker who removes all
the excess metal from the piece. They use a hammer and sharp chisel to
physically remove the excess metal from the pouring mouth, the runners
and any other excess metal that accumulated on the piece. It is often
times a very violent process as a lot of energy is need to remove the
The piece is then given to another person who uses a
small tool to scrap down the entire exterior of the piece. The iron
tool has a long thin handle with a small “L” shaped curved front. The
head of the piece is very this and flat. This portion is used to move
up and down on the bronze. The edge is moved up and down the bronze
perpendicularly. This removes any irregularities on the surface of the
bronze made but the filing of the previous step. The color changes from
a rough golden sheen into a bright, smooth bronze polish.
The filing and scraping process of this stage is very
long (taking days rather than hours), difficult and monotonous. The
following is how long the filing and scraping process takes;
5 days for a 12 inch bronze statue
for a 24 inch bronze statue
20 days for a 36 inch bronze statue
30 days for a 48 inch bronze statue
40 days for a 60 inch bronze statue
50 days for a 72 inch bronze statue
The previous steps of breaking the mold, chiseling,
filing and scraping are preformed more by apprentices rather than
artists as they are more menial steps. The next step of chiseling the
details requires a lot of skill and is therefore not performed by an
apprentice but by an experienced bronze artist.
of the facial features is the most important portion of this
step. A gifted artist can turn any face into the face of a
beautiful or handsome god!
A fat face can be carved to be made thinner, a
lifeless mouth can be made to smile.
of the face is the last step of the process because this step is
where Life truly enters the piece and the bronze ceases to be
metal and becomes a god.
The unfinished face of Nataraja