Sculpting Relief with Wax


Wax sculpting is a lost art form but one that needs protecting and nurturing. A rare art discipline that is only practiced today by a handful of artists worldwide. The majority live in Italy or Europe. I was very fortunate to spend a year in Italy at the Italian Mint learning from Bottega Mortet the amazing discipline of wax sculpture as my ancestor Benedetto Pistrucci Mastered.

In this post I will be doing a series of how to’s for those who are interested in the fine art of wax sculpting.

I have always supported the need to draw and to refine your skills as Pontormo states:

” Pontormo was once asked – which is the greater artform painting or sculpting? to which he replied drawing.”

In all my classes whether it is figure drawing from life, sculpture or painting I have come to the conclusion that the quality of your drawing is the single factor that produces a finer and better quality of work. It never fails to amaze me that the time spent in drawing always pays off when I am in a time pinch or how I feel about the finished product. Yes I spend more time in practice then actually creating work and often I feel that my productivity is much too low. But as an Artist that is still developing the more time spent on practice and skill based learning will be more valuable in the end. For now I will put my time in. The rewards off in the distance but my goal is fine art not financial. I want to create beautiful work. The cost is time and work – I am not sure if I will even recognize when I reach the end of the journey but it is my passion. And I love every minute spent. Life draw – you will thank me.

In the beginning of any artwork ( sculpture, painting, medal art , or drawing) Draw a design rough sketches to establish – themes, composition, color, drawing practice, size specifications and to help you to decide the methods, materials and mediums you will use to execute the piece. This is your planning stage.

Once your design is finished in detail and you are happy with your drawing you can begin the next phase of the work. To complete a work in Wax you will need to have your tools, wax and wax lamp to heat the wax.

I created my tools from pieces of metal by forging with a heated torch, mallet and anvil.

Here is a picture of my DIY tools for the process of wax sculpting:


_MG_9639 XS (1)

A picture sent to me showing my GR.GR.GR Uncle Benedetto Pistrucci waterloo medal with his handmade tools. Much like mine. sigh. I wish he could show me his Mastery and how he used his tools. If only. But I continue my pursuit to understand this wonderful medium. If art could bite than I have been bitten. I am a fan of wax and all of its complexities.
Picture courtesy of Ed Wheeler



Next Post: Transfer method of drawing.

St.George & The Dragon 2017 Gold Sovereign


I am honored to present the coin that I have been working on over the past 2 years and the reason I attended the Istituto Poligrafico Zecca Stato at the Scuola dell’Arte della Medaglia in Roma, Italy this past year. In association with the London Mint Office I have designed the Newly anticipated Gold Sovereign 2017 Saint George and the Dragon on its 200th Anniversary from the original by Benedetto Pistrucci. I am honored to share with everyone my heritage and the story of my ancestors.  I am overwhelmed with excitement to bring this coin to the world.

-Angela Benita Pistrucci


The Art of Classical details by Phillip Dodd


The Art of Classical details by Phillip Dodd

“In keeping with Artisanal Specs.’ love for and focus on the artisans, trades and specialty craftspeople that work thoroughly alongside architects, designers and builders to bring design to life, there is good reason we were so excited to cover The Art of Classical Details. Unlike many of the other wonderful books out on design, from the perspective of architecture, Phillip has worked with tender and extensive care to curate a publication that tells the story of contemporary classical architecture and design from the in-depth and multifaceted viewpoints of architects, designers, artists (himself), scholars and artisans and craftspeople; an opportune and rich perspective we do not often get to hear. With his own craftsman-like precision, Phillip has carved out a space to facilitate a discourse on design from an elevated and uniquely all- inclusive point of view. He brings to the table a pallet of voices that paint a larger picture of how and why it is worth carrying out the principles and practices of classical architecture in the modern world.” Alanna Bailey of Artisanal Specs Blog


Pistrucci Artworks -Attention to detail-

Pistrucci Artworks -Attention to detail-

Benedetto Pistrucci Waterloo medal detail

Benedetto Pistrucci
Waterloo medal detail


Small Dome with Frize Anyone would love to have a ceiling inspired with architectural details in their living room!

Small Dome with Frize
Anyone would love to have a ceiling inspired with architectural details in their living room!


Classical Architecture

Classical Architecture


A craftsman at work

A craftsman at work – pictured from the book Classical details


An Interior, with Dome circa 1810-27 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

An Interior, with Dome circa 1810-27 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

The Craftmanship of detail

The Craftmanship of detail



Designing a Fireplace surround with Art tile & Sculptural accents

Designing a Fireplace surround:

People are visual — They NEED to see it before they can picture what it will look like. A semi colored sketch will often show geometric design and layout prior to a large expenditure on materials & supplies.

Consider color, theme and texture [ low relief /high relief]. Patterns, designs and composition when deciding on an overall layout.
Tile can be designed in any shape or form– from majolica, geometric patterns, abstract flowing lines to classical figurative works. Tile can be arranged in mosaic shapes similiar to stain glass windows. Clay can also be formed into any period or artistic era such as baroque frieze, Mucha’s Art Nouveau, Impressionists, Picasso to modernism.  Tile can be arranged in story form like pages on a book. The ideas are endless….In fact so endless it hurts the creative head.

Sketching helps to sort out composition as you can erase what you do not need or add what is missing in a design. Simple colorful sketches give a basic idea of what to expect in a design. In the photo above Pistrucci Artworks was asked to formulate a plan for a fireplace surround with a width of 7″.  The clients had a beautiful love story that spanned 30+ years – symbolizing their relationship with a bridge. The Client an artist herself had painted several ethereal paintings with figures and a bridge and requested this in the design of the surround.  My tile line only had female figures but the clients wanted to incorporate a male on one side and a female on the other. We drafted a design with a keystone tile – bridge, a male figure and a female figure complementing each other in pose and composition.

Clay sketching also tells you whether the design will compliment an already existing piece.

Here is the clay sketch of the male figure:

            Clay sketch

Artists : Angela Pistrucci / Jeremy Hileman

Male figure was inset into the tile of  swan lake replacing the left side female figure & still matching pose to female right side.

Designing and drawing can be alot of work but well worth it considering your fireplace surround is in the most used room in the house and is important in every detail. You need to absolutely love the design and the craftmanship because you will be spending many hours in it’s presence. Take your time and consider all your needs & wants. What are you most attracted to? The colors of a peacock or the soft muted browns and greens found in nature? What era are you the most in love with – colorful impressionists, the bright colors of a picasso or the dark meaningful and poignant emotions found in a rembrandt? Are you looking for warmth and comfort or are cool contrasts and abstract simple lines more favored? What kind of art will you be displaying in the space? How will it compliment your design?

Once you have established the main themes, colors and designs that attract YOUR attention – then and only then can you begin to design and install art tile that will have long lasting and permanent enjoyment in your home.

Rough sketch of swans for keystone bridge tile.

Take time to notice and look at colorful photographs observing the colors that harmonize with each other.  For more information on designing with color I recommend subscribing to a few blogs that appeal to you and have great color ideas and designs. They will inspire your creativity and add color compliments and combinations that you might of otherwise overlooked

Art Tile – Concept to completion

Since the beginning of the year I have had an obsession with creating tile – artistic, creative, elegant, colorful and distinctly different from anything currently available. From my research I have noticed 3 major areas are lacking in today’s tile –  { figurative, large Accent tiles& expressive}. Accent tiles used to be decorative centre pieces in bathrooms and kitchens, with relief ,texture and figures. Sculptural Artwork has been replaced with basic patterns, shapes and colors.
Pistrucci Artworks main goal is to produce a wide variety of bas relief accent tiles from contemporary to figurative offering distinctive flair with color and texture. Jeremy Hileman took the concept Pikaso Kichen and created an expressive colorful line of tile for the contemporary kitchen. Here is the results of our next tile line titled ‘ Pikaso Kichen’.

To view the catalog go here: art-tile-catalog-pikaso-kichen

First the concept drawings were designed and a rought draft completed [see below] :


Then the sculpting of the relief tiles:

 Glaze tests

Old world stain

& more glaze tests….



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How to build and Sculpt a Custom Architectural Ceramic Fireplace Surround

left side figure- finished and painted

left side figure- finished and painted

Siempre Sonador
siempre Sonador
After second firing ready for high fire
After second firing ready for high fire

I recently completed a custom architectural ceramic fireplace surround ( title “SIEMPRE SONADOR”. Above is a picture of it prior to installation.
I will be giving a basic description of the process here in this blog.
First I met with the clients to determine their personal style and get an overview of the project and its layout. This is an important step as it is necessary for the 2 parties to decide if they can work together.  I really love old architecture and figurative movement and use it whenever possible and I was happy that my ideas for the fireplace went well in the home and space.

Fireplace surround

The fireplace would be built for an old 1900’s period style home and would be the center of attention in the dining room area.  The family is the owners of the Elk lake bed and Breakfast in Victoria BC  Canada and take an immense amount of pride in their home and business.

I did an initial drawing of my concept and ideas, as well as a materials list and quote.  From my drawings I set out to sculpt the parts of the fireplace that would take the longest and would need to be ‘repeated’ or molded for consistency in the design.

Sculpted figure for right side on canvas
Sculpted figure for right side of fireplace

I sculpted relief on gessoed canvas out of paperclay let dry and painted on the rubber molding compound. I let it dry between thin layers building up over several days to a week depending on how thick I wanted my moldFor some of the relief tile I used the upholstery on the back of the chairs to match the design elements.

Upholstery design from dining room chairs
Upholstery design from dining room chairs
Completed sculpture design from upholstery
Completed sculpture design from upholstery

Once I had completed the basic designs I needed a reoccuring theme within the design itself. I chose the iris for its meaning and beauty.

Plus I needed added dimension for a more sculptural and aesthetic appeal. I knew The focal point would be the keystone tile which would be an  original one of a kind sculpted figurative relief to match the left and right figures. Here are pictures of the sculpting of the keystone and iris’s.

sculpting figurative tile
sculpting figurative tile
Right side original sculpture before molding

Right side original sculpture before molding

Sculpted keystone tile drying
Sculpted keystone tile drying

The sculptures were placed on a sheet of drywall and left to dry  – the corners were weighted and dried slowly by covering with plastic.

Fireplace tiles cut to size allowing for clay shrinkage and set to dry on drywall
Fireplace tiles cut to size allowing for clay shrinkage and set to dry on drywallAfter second firing ready for high fire

The clay is a porcelain body and slow drying was necessary to avoid cracking or warping. Cracks that did appear were immediately filled with a mixture of the clay body, toilet paper and water (paperclay). Once the fireplace was bone dry it was bisque fired to cone 018, After it is cooled down and removed from the kiln it was submerged in water to test for cracks which were filled with the paperclay mixture.The fireplace was sanded and dried again. It was refired again to cone 018.

Here is a picture of the unpainted fireplace. Once the fireplace was dried again and sanded it was high fired to cone 4 we had to choose a color. After tooooo toooo many glaze tests the customers finally settled on a bronze patina highlighted with dark brown umber and cobalt green accents. Here is a picture of my signature on the back of the iris tile.

Pistrucci signature on back of iris
Pistrucci signature on back of iris

Picture of completed fireplace: click on picture to enlarge  and (+ or – for larger detail)

Sketchbook Project 2011

Here is my completed book for the sketchbook project to tour the U.S. in some major cities. I titled my Sketchbook ‘ Figuratively Speaking’. You can view online at arthouse coop as a digitized version here:

Last but not least – ‘Be You’, ‘Play’, ‘When I grow up I want to be a superhero’, and ‘Write Love notes in the sand’.  Finally my sketchbook project is completed. I can now move onto other projects and my Art tile. I will be publishing my relief tile projects over the next few weeks and sketches before I start the sculptural relief work. Here is the Back and front cover from my painting ‘Carried Away’

 My latest sketches for ‘Sketchbook project *figuring you out*…..  – The Masks we wear,  Need to be re’ Tire‘ d, Dance with me , Write on Walls and Wabi Sabi – Find beauty in imperfection.

Attempting this project has opened my eyes to the desire of artists to better themselves with every work, every sculpture, every painting. I firmly believe that artists should actively work in the three major artistic areas – DRAW, PAINT, SCULPT.  My drawing has gotten worse, gotten better, improved and gotten worse. where it is now ? it doesn’t matter – what matters is that I continue just for the sake of creating, learning what I have to contribute to art. Here is my sketch for today– for better or worse.

Jump up and down!!

JUMP up and down!!

I have to admit this sketchbook project is alot of work – but I also recognize that my drawing is getting better and faster. I do not draw enough and thus the reason for taking on this project—to coerce myself into drawing. It is working so well worth the effort. For anyone wanting to improve their drawing skills I recommend registering for next year.  Just a piece of advice from my experiences register early. I have less than a month to complete these drawings and although I have not started panicking quite yet I have come to the conclusion december is not the best month to add extra pressure.   And I know I work best under pressure but my drawings may have been better if I had more than one day to complete each one. Who knows? Next year for certain I will be starting earlier.

Here is my sketch for As my book will be on tour in some of the major cities in the U.S. I decided to complete a sketch that will tell everyone that views the sketchbook that they are beautiful. I added the url for the site after I took the picture. It has now been sent to the Brooklyn Arthouse Coop Library.

'Know...You are Beautiful'

How are you feeling today??

****Cough**Cough***Negativity is Hazourdous to your SOUL!!
I guess I have to start sometime…My first drawing in my sketchbook. I have designed and pulled it apart.

' I guess I have to start sometime'

Here is a picture of the ‘dummy’ model for the cover

I am so excited I received my Sketchbook in the mail from the sketchbook project.  But here’s the thing the sketchbook is 5.5″ x 8.5″  and MUST stay that size and it has a sticky barcode on the back that cannot be altered or obviously removed. The rules are written out for you and for those of us like me who want to alter the book COMPLETELY I guess I better check out the web page for more instructions BEFORE I start my project.
In the picture is:1. A sketch for an oil painting I am working on
2. My sketchbook from the sketchbook Project
3. Information sheet with the rules ( which are easy to follow but I am already suffering from creative anxiety of how to alter it without altering it).
4. MY VERY OWN Boston library card!!!!
I have some ideas written out for my sketchbook ( I could not sleep last night until I had formulated my plan of attack).  Next I am going to the library to find out from the librarians how they prepare and laminate their book covers.  My theme is ‘ figuring you out’ . I like it already.
somedays you just want to be invisible
A collage from my drawingsAbraq Ad Habra ” I create what I speak’  –a collage from my drawings

First Day

Imaginary Lines: ‘The glass ceiling’

Cut on dotted line

Glassine  over page with handwritten text