Fellow carver and friend, Paul Waclo (http://www.chainsawcarvingbypaul.com/), brought a desktop version of his popular wood-carved eagle design to my shop with the intention of turning it into a bronze sculpture. The eagle carving stands around 20 inches tall.
We began by sealing the carving with Krylon clear acrylic spray.
Next, we screwed the carving to a piece of plywood wrapped in cling wrap and began painting the entire surface of the carving with 4 coats of Rebound 25 silicone rubber. Each coat was a different color than the previous layer so you could see where you were painting. We used Silc Pig pigments to tint the rubber. The 5th and 6th layers were thickening layers to fill gaps and to build a wall of rubber where we would be inserting cards later in the process. We used 20 drops of Thi-vex to each batch to thicken the rubber.
Next, we carefully used an Exacto blade to slice a 1/4″ deep cut along the rubber wall we created and inserted playing cards into the cut to create a thin wall that will separate the mold into two halves.
With the cards in place, we brushed wax onto the cards as a release agent and sprayed the rubber with a mold release. Next, we began mixing up batches of Plastipaste – a trowelable plastic that hardens quickly. We applied it over the rubber has a supportive hard shell and embedded some wood supports as well. It’s about 3/4″‘ thick.
After 90 minutes, the Plastipaste was set up and we could pry apart the hard shell, called a “mother mold”.
Next, we took the Exacto blade and carefully cut the rubber in half down the very center of the wings, head, and base. Now, we could peel the rubber off and take out the wood carving. We put the rubber and mother mold back together with bolts and placed it upside down in a garbage can in preparation for our first resin pour!
There are 2 ways to create a bronze sculpture. One way is to use a bronze foundry with molten bronze and the lost wax technique. This process is very expensive and very time-consuming. The second way is called “Cold cast bronze”. This is where you use black resin mixed with actual bronze powder to create a cast. Then you back up that first bronze pour with additional resin pours without bronze powder mixed in. We used the cold-cast bronze technique. We used Smooth-cast 325 resin with a few drops of black UVO tinting with roughly 2.5 lbs. of bronze powder for our cast. The two of us then flipped the mold over and over every which way to make sure the resin went where it needed to.
After the pour hardened up in about a half hour, we were able to see if it worked! Paul and I were like two kids on Christmas morning, so excited to take the wrapping off this thing to see what was inside!
It captured every detail perfectly!!! Next, we cleaned up the joint lines and wiped it down with mineral spirits. To pop the bronze, we took steel wool and rubbed the surface. As you rub the surface, the metallic bronze begins to shine and look amazing. The last step will be taking black shoe polish and brushing it into the feather patterns and then wiping it away just right in order to create contrast and depth with the bronze. That’s it!! Now, Paul can make multiple bronze casts from this mold and sell them as limited series, high-end collectibles for his customers!
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