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Sculpture. Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials, typically stone such as marble, metal, glass, or wood, or plastic materials such as clay, textiles, polymers and softer metals. The term has been extended to works including sound, text and light. .

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Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials, typically stone such as marble, metal, glass, or wood, or plastic materials such as clay, textiles, polymers and softer metals. The term has been extended to works including sound, text and light.

  • A relief is a sculptured artwork where a modelled form is raised—or, in a sunken-relief, lowered—from a plane from which the main elements of the composition project (or sink).
in the round
In the round
  • Sculpture "in the round" refers to free-standing sculpture that is meant to be viewed on all sides, and is surrounded entirely by space.
  • Two main forms of sculpture are relief and free-standing (in the round)
  • Both, can be modeled or carved
  • an additive process using soft materials such as plaster, clay or wax.
  • Since the materials are not very durable, they are usually cast in a more lasting medium; anything that can be poured including molten metal, cement, even plastic.
  • Modeling encourages open forms with the aid of metal armatures to support their extension into space.

an armature is a framework around which the sculpture is built

Working With Clay

Clay may be modeled, sculpted, or thrown. Let’s look at each method:

  • Modeling – by piecing together smaller units of clay, or by coiling clay, artists can create figures, pottery and art ceramics. Any type of clay can be modeled.
  • Sculpting – by using special tools and their hands, artists can create figures, busts, doll heads, miniatures, etc from a lump of stiff hardening or non-hardening clay.
  • Throwing – using a potter’s wheel, an artist can form a lump of clay into round-shaped pottery and art ceramics, such as bowls, vases, cups, plates, etc. Only hardening clay specifically designed for the wheel will work for this.
  • Any of these techniques can be combined. For example: and artist may sculpt the body of a thrown vase to create a filigree pattern along the rim. Or an artist may sculpt a head, then model the ears onto it by applying additional clay.
papier m ch

Papier-mâché (French for 'chewed-up paper', due to its appearance), commonly called paper-mâché, is a construction material that consists of pieces of paper, sometimes reinforced with textiles, stuck together using a wet paste (e.g., glue, starch, or wallpaper adhesive).

The crafted object becomes solid when the paste dries.

  • opposite of modeling. It is a subtractive process that starts with a solid block, usually stone-which is highly resistant to the sculptors chisel, but also wood, soap, wax, ice, etc.
wood carving
Wood Carving

the two most common woods used for carving are Basswood (aka Tilia or Lime) and Tupelo, both are hardwoods that are relatively easy to work with. Chestnut, American walnut, mahogany and teak are also very good woods; while for fine work Italian walnut, sycamore maple, apple, pear or plum, are usually chosen. Decoration that is to be painted and of not too delicate a nature is as a rule carved in pine.

Carving knives

Gouges and mallet

stone carving
Stone Carving
  • Stone carving is an ancient activity where pieces of rough natural stone are shaped by the controlled removal of stone.
  • Sculptures can be carved via either the direct or the indirect carving method: indirect carving is a way of carving by using an accurate clay, wax or plaster model, which is then copied with the use of compasses, also called "proportional dividers" [1] or a pointing machine.
  • The direct carving method is a way of carving in a more intuitive way, without first making an elaborate model. Sometimes a sketch on paper or a rough clay draft is made.
  • Soft stone: chalk, soapstone, pumice and Tufa can be easily carved.
  • Limestones and marbles can be worked using abrasives and simple iron tools.
  • Granite, basalt and some metamorphic stone is difficult to carve even with iron or steel tools; usually tungsten carbide tipped tools are used
  • The three basic types of chisels remain the same: a point for roughing out the stone, tooth chisels (also called claw tools) for shaping and modeling the forms, and flat chisels for the finished surfaces and details.
  • Within each class there are endless variations; for example gouges, bull-noses and miter tools are all variations on the flat chisel.


wax sculpture
Wax Sculpture
  • Wax sculpture is an art form that dates back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece. History documents that wax figures were sculpted for religious ceremonies.
  • During the Roman Empire noble families displayed wax effigies of their ancestors. In Medieval Europe it become customary to preserve the likeness of great personages by making death masks. From the death mask molds three dimensional wax images were created to adorn tombs and crypts.
  • As this was a costly endeavor, this practice was reserved for royal and religious hierarchies.
  • With the development of a middle class during the Renaissance, the practice of preserving images in wax became more widespread.
  • In 18th century Paris, Marie Grosholtz became an apprentice of wax sculptures in the studio of her uncle. During the French Revolution, she was assigned the arduous task of taking hundreds of death masks. Later she married, becoming Madame Tussaud (photo of actual wax figure left), and with her husband established a "Wax Salon" in Paris. By 1833, she alone had established a salon in London, England.
  • Cast or welded metals, especially bronze, are also popular and may be combined with other types of sculpture to create unique images.
  • Resin casting

Metal in sand mold


Casts can be made of the wax model itself, the direct method; or of a wax copy of a model that need not be of wax, the indirect method. These are the steps for the indirect process:

  • Model-making. An artist or mold-maker creates an original model from wax, clay, or another material. Wax and oil-based clay are often preferred because these materials retain their softness.
  • Moldmaking. A mold is made of the original model or sculpture. The rigid outer molds contain the softer inner mold, which is the exact negative of the original model. Inner molds are usually made of latex, polyurethane rubber or silicone, which is supported by the outer mold. The outer mold can be made from plaster, but can also be made of fiberglass or other materials. Most molds are at least two pieces, and a shim with keys is placed between the two halves during construction so that the mold can be put back together accurately. In case there are long, thin pieces sticking out of the model, these are often cut off of the original and molded separately. Sometimes many molds are needed to recreate the original model, especially large ones.
  • Wax. Once the mold is finished, molten wax is poured into it and swished around until an even coating, usually about 1/8 inch or 3 mm thick, covers the inner surface of the mold. This is repeated until the desired thickness is reached. Another method is filling the entire mold with molten wax, and let it cool, until a desired thickness has set on the surface of the mold. After this the rest of the wax is poured out again, the mold is turned upside down and the wax layer is left to cool and harden. With this method it is more difficult to control the overall thickness of the wax layer.
  • Removal of wax. This hollow wax copy of the original model is removed from the mold. The model-maker may reuse the mold to make multiple copies, limited only by the durability of the mold.
  • Chasing. Each hollow wax copy is then "chased": a heated metal tool is used to rub out the marks that show the parting line or flashing where the pieces of the mold came together. The wax is dressed to hide any imperfections. The wax now looks like the finished piece. Wax pieces that were molded separately can be heated and attached; foundries often use registration marks to indicate exactly where they go.
  • Spruing. The wax copy is sprued with a treelike structure of wax that will eventually provide paths for molten casting material to flow and air to escape. The carefully planned spruing usually begins at the top with a wax "cup," which is attached by wax cylinders to various points on the wax copy. This spruing doesn't have to be hollow, as it will be melted out later in the process.
  • Slurry. A sprued wax copy is dipped into a slurry of silica, then into a sand-like stucco, or dry crystalline silica of a controlled grain size. The slurry and grit combination is called ceramic shell mold material, although it is not literally made of ceramic. This shell is allowed to dry, and the process is repeated until at least a half-inch coating covers the entire piece. The bigger the piece, the thicker the shell needs to be. Only the inside of the cup is not coated, and the cup's flat top serves as the base upon which the piece stands during this process. Prior to silica, a mixture of plaster and fire-proof material such as chamotte was used.
  • Burnout. The ceramic shell-coated piece is placed cup-down in a kiln, whose heat hardens the silica coatings into a shell, and the wax melts and runs out. The melted wax can be recovered and reused, although often it is simply burned up. Now all that remains of the original artwork is the negative space, formerly occupied by the wax, inside the hardened ceramic shell. The feeder and vent tubes and cup are also hollow.
  • Testing. The ceramic shell is allowed to cool, then is tested to see if water will flow through the feeder and vent tubes as necessary. Cracks or leaks can be patched with thick refractory paste. To test the thickness, holes can be drilled into the shell, then patched.
  • Pouring. The shell is reheated in the kiln to harden the patches and remove all traces of moisture, then placed cup-upwards into a tub filled with sand. Metal is melted in a crucible in a furnace, then poured carefully into the shell. If the shell were not hot, the temperature difference would shatter it. The filled shells are allowed to cool.
  • Release. The shell is hammered or sand-blasted away, releasing the rough casting. The spruing, which are also faithfully recreated in metal, are cut off, to be reused in another casting.
  • Metal-chasing. Just as the wax copies were chased, the casting is worked until the telltale signs of the casting process are removed, and the casting now looks like the original model. Pits left by air bubbles in the casting, and the stubs of spruing are filed down and polished.
metal working
Metal Working
  • Metal sculpture can be created by one of many methods, or even a combination of methods. Sculpture can be created by cutting metals with shears and snips, by firing and hammering metals, or by joining metals with sheet metal screws, rivets and soldering. More advanced techniques involve brazing, oxyacetylene welding, arc and heli-arc welding and fabrication of more complex forms.
A found object, in an artistic sense, indicates the use of an object which has not been designed for an artistic purpose, but which exists for another purpose already.
modern sculpture
Modern sculpture
  • Combines traditional methods as well as sculpture with movement.
  • New methods can be assembled, glued, projected and constructed in many modern ways