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Lost Wax Method
The "Lost Wax Method" is the only technique used by the artisans of Lotus Sculpture to create our Bronze statues. All of the artwork is one of a kind and is never reproduced on a large scale. Bronze casting in south India and Bangladesh is a skill passed on from generation to generation. Lotus Sculpture's artisans are the descendants of the famous
Chola and Pala schools of bronze casting of 8th to 13th centuries. Lotus Sculpture assures you that our sculptures are the best quality coming out India and Bangladesh today.
1) Creation of the Wax Model
For the second step, a one to two centimeter pasty mixture is applied to the outside of the model by hand. Once the paste is dried, holes are made at the bottom of the mold, which allow thin rods of wax, or nalis, to be attached to the wax base of the statue. Nalis serve as a passageway; they allow for the molten bronze to be poured into the mold and as an avenue for displaced air to escape out of the mold.
For the third step, a third and final coating of rice husk, sand and clay is used to cover the entire surface of the piece. This is the final coating of the mold, applied to increase the thickness of the mold and to cover the nalis, which were inserted in the previous step. Small, cup like reservoirs are formed above each nali to allow for the metal to be poured into the mold without spilling it.
Above are the three different types of clay used to create the firing mold. The small middle bowl is used to hold the first layer. The large bowl on the right is used to hold the second layer, this is the largest layer comprising 60% of the layers on the entire piece. The last bowl on the left is used for the final layer and has the thickest consistency.
The weather plays a very important part in the casting of pieces in both Bangladesh and in south India. It affects the whole process in two ways. The heat in both Bangladesh and south India is extreme. This often makes it very difficult to maintain the proper temperature for working with wax. During the hot season the wax is often too pliable to even hold a shape, making it impossible to sculpt the wax.
The artists of south India and Bangladesh have been casting bronze in these conditions for centuries and have found a way to work with the elements. During the rainy season the artists spend most of their time creating the wax models with limited time covering the molds and drying the molds. During the hot season they spend most of their time drying the various layers of molds and firing the ovens creating finished pieces. They are careful not to dry the molds in direct sunlight. The heat would damage the wax model inside the mold.
3) Casting the Mold
In reality, kings, the wealthy, and temples were the only people and institutions with enough money to create true, five metal (panchaloha), bronze deities. The five metals were gold, silver, copper, brass and lead. For contemporary bronzes; copper, brass and lead are the three main ingredients. Copper contains small amounts of gold and silver so technically today's bronzes are four metal bronzes. Copper is a necessary element in bronze because copper offers more malleability than other metals. This gives the sculptor a metal he can work with after the casting process to make the subtle alterations needed for a beautiful, finished piece.
As a general rule, approximately 220-260 pounds of bronze are cast at one time. The raw, unheated bronze is placed into egg shaped containers called crucibles. Bengalis use approximately 6-9 pounds of bronze in each crucible. South Indian artists use much larger crucibles. Once the molds and bronze containers are ready for firing, they are placed into the oven with the molds on the top and the containers on the bottom. The molds are positioned with the nalis facing downward allowing the wax to "burn out" after the oven is heated. Hence the name "lost wax method".