Pictures of Our Artisans

I have had a deep love for Asia and its people since my first trip to meditate in a Northern Thailand monastery when I was 18 years old. When I started Lotus Sculpture in 2000 that connection with Asia has blossomed into pure love! I have known many of our artisans since my very first buying trip in 2000 when the new adventure of Lotus Sculpture just started. Together, the relationships I have with my artisans has grown through the years and they are now like my second family. I take great pride in knowing personally almost all the artisans who make the statues sold in Lotus Sculpture. I invite you to join me on my journey through the remote villages where each statue is made and to meet the artisans who create the sculptures that enrich your homes, temples and lives with grace.

Indian Bronze Artists

Lotus Sculpture started exclusively selling South Indian, lost wax method bronzes. My oldest and dearest artisans are Varadaraj and his two brothers, Suri and Muthu who are responsible for creating the majority of bronze sold at Lotus Sculpture. I was always drawn to the difficult and time consuming process of lost wax casting where bronze statues, known as murtis, can take months and sometimes over a year to create. With India’s push to modernize and higher paying jobs being offered in other fields, young apprentices are not taking up the torch to be the next generation of bronze artisans. Lotus Sculpture has provided a beacon of light to the bronze industry. I have directly seen the impact Lotus Sculpture has had on the bronze industry in the small town of Swamimalai where temple bronzes have been made since Chola times by infusing a new demand into the small industry not seen before. For this I thank you, the customers of Lotus Sculpture, and with each trip to India I hear my artisans and their families also thanking you!

Siva and I in the store room where they keep statues they are working on. He is holding one of the 108 poses of Lord Shiva's Tandava dance. I always wanted to commission a complete set of the 108 poses.
The wax modelers all sit at a table around a small fire with warmed wax and heated tools. They use the fire to warm up the wax of what they are working on so that they can easily shape it.
Varadraj's family always invites me to their home for a lunch. This was the first time I met his wife, to my right. His lovely mother's cooking is always the culinary highlight of my trip!
Varadaraj with a Nataraja statue I commissioned from him to make for Lotus Sculpture. He liked it so much he kept it in his house to do daily puja to Lord Shiva!
The paraffin or wax is left on a low fire to keep it malleable so the wax model artists can use use the pliable wax to create their designs
A wax model of Lakshmi! You can plainly see the nalis that act as a conduit between the hard to reach areas of the statue, like the hands, to promote the liquid bronze to flow to every area of the statue during casting.
Here I am with Varadaraj eating a coconut. He showed me the land he just bought. He plans on moving his family and bronze workshop there and to grow his food as well!
Muthu with his son, Siva. I spend a lot of time in a small, dusty room with them looking at bronzes and going over our plans together. Siva is always smiling!
Here is a Dancing Ganesh with many arms! You can see how the statue is made in one casting without the base. For bronze statues, the base is always cast separately and joined together afterwards.
A carver sits working on a small Balaji statue with all the different chisels laying besides him. Another of his creations, a bronze panel of Gaja Lakshmi lays beside him.
Its scenes like this that have made me fall in love with India. The muted tones of the bronze with the sunlight filtering through just gives that extra sense of magic to these incredible creations of divinity!
A 4 foot Nataraja statue being created. You can see the chisel marks all over the body of the statue. Also the extra bridge of metal over the length of his nose so the extra metal can be shaved down by the master artist who carves the finer details.
I commissioned this dancing Shiva with Parvati set in 2015. Here Shiva is just after casting. You can see the nails the artists use to keep the earthen mold in place during the casting process to maintain the statues integrity
Bronze Vishnu statue that has just been cleaned after casting next to the flames of the 24 foot tall Nataraja statue
Video of our bronze artists breaking the earthen mold that surrounds the bronze statue. The mold has been allowed to cool for one day and then the artists break away the earthen mold surrounding the statue to reveal the bronze statue of the god within.
Video of a completed wax model of Lakshmi. After she is covered with an earthen mold and then placed in a fire to have the wax melt out of the mold.
Video of South Indian bronze artists fashioning wax models of Hindu Gods.
Video of our artists pour liquid bronze into earthen molds. The burlap sack is used to hold back any impurities in the bronze and acts like a sieve.
Video of the laborious process of carving the details into each bronze murti by hand using a small hammer and chisel.
Video on covering the wax model with earthen mold. This is the casing that holds the wax mold. When it is placed in the fire the wax melts out leaving an empty vessel for the liquid bronze to be poured into.
Video of Varadaraj as he works with a wax model of a 5 faced Ganesha wax mold.
Video of a bronze artist joining Lakshmi to her base.
The extra wax tubes are used as tunnels for the rivers of molten bronze to funnel into the actual statue of Krishna.
Varadaraj making the wax mold for gopal Krishna. He uses the hot stick to melt the wax.
The wax model for the reproduction for the Ganesh in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Varadaraj and I with some of the statues he made for Lotus Sculpture. We have known each other and been freinds since the starts of both of our businesses. He is the best bronze artisans in South India!
Molds waiting to be cast. It costs a lot in fuel to do a casting so they try to make it worth while by having a full load of statues for each casting.
Brahma waiting to be born from the mold.
You can see the orange, molten metal sprewing from both sides of the mold.
At the end of the bamboo pole is a piece of burlap. They use this as a sieve to prevent impurities from entering the mold.
The heat is so extreme emenating from the liquid bronze!
Pouring the liquid bronze from crucibles into the mold. Amazing that some of them do this in sandals!
The raw metal being melted down in crucibles. It takes a good two hours of heating to get the metal to the correct temperature for pouring into the mold.
A wax mold inside a mold. They wrap steel wires around the mold to help hold everything in place during the firing process.
Pouring the liquid bronze from crucibles into the mold.
Putting a high polish on a Nataraja statue.
Varadaraj designing the rest of the Gopal Krishna statue. They do a drawing so they are sure to get the proportions correct.
Carving the details of a 4 foot tall Nataraja.
The wax mold of a cow for one of our gopal Krishna statues with cow.
I took my mom to India to meet all my artisans. This is us at the house of Varadaraj. His mother makes my favoirte Indian meal every buying trip!
They use cow dung patties to burn to help melt the wax from the molds.
Working on half Hanuman, half Ganesh statue amde using two metals.
After casting and the metal statue has cooled down they have to break apart the mold to expose the raw metal statue inside.
Varadaraj and Varun with Vishnu. Masterpiece!
Pouring the liquid bronze from crucibles into the mold.
A river of wax melting out of the mold.
Ganesh taking a bath before he is colored.
Suri's daughter, Dharsini, with Vishnu.
Two bronze artists holding a standing Shakti Mariamman that still has some carving work to do.