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:
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.