Making a bronze from start to finish: Robert Glen and his longtime relationship with Fonderia Artistica Mariani.
Only those who actually get in touch with bronze in their working daily life may really realize how much it is involved in the making of a bronze.
Robert Glen is of them and one of the few that have been working in bronze for such a long time that himself defines it “… as an ages old process… still carried out by artisans in the foundry”.
Many and various are the stages involved in the process that sees the original model become a piece of art.
Robert Glen living in the bush for ever, travels a great distance from where he makes his model in his camp, in Africa, to the foundry in Italy and firmly states, from his years long knowledge, that the process his bronzes go through from start to finish, is what makes them perfect.
His starting point is plasticine or wax, with a metal support and his research always takes place in the large and wonderful array of wildlife that surrounds his bush camp.
Living there is a choice, a happy choice, that however makes it difficult to transport the models to Italy.
Transportation may sometimes be or become, therefore, a delicate matter and Robert often prefers to make his own molds in his camp studio where he uses silicone, synthetic rubber, for the mold and a jacket of plaster of Paris for the support.
Here is a mold packaged up and ready for shipment to the Mariani foundry in Italy that Robert himself has loaded on his van, ready for the long trip.
The trip is always an adventure: the drive is about 250km, to Iringa town to send it off to Italy, where the mold will see its life into a piece of art.
Sometimes Robert gives himself the chance to come to Italy and follow up in person all the procedures that make his pieces into bronze and it is always an interesting interaction of ideas and suggestions between our artisans and himself, with a language that it is not always carried out in a perfect English, but a language, the artisans’ language, made of gestures and touch that brings to life the artist’s concept through the artisans’ hands.
Here they are discussing a wax copy of one of Robert’s models, made from the mold he had sent previously to Fonderia Artistica Mariani and it is the first stage of many, time consuming, steps that will take us to the casting final result.
Robert himself often describes it using these exact words: “Each wax model goes through a complicated process of first being assembled with air vents, runners and a funnel for the bronze to pass through. Then they are dipped in ceramic mixture like thick cream several times, and dried.”
And this is the model after been dipped several times in ceramic and dried where the pipes you see here are the runners and air vents for the bronze to flow through.
The ceramic mold that comes out of it, contains wax and it is then to be baked at a very high temperature that makes the wax runs out leaving a hollow space where it used to be.
Bronze is then heated in the crucible and carried to where the mold is placed into a sand bed ready for the pour.
Then the magic takes place and once the bronze is cast, the above mentioned pipes are cut off from the model and chased over to remove all traces of their existence.
This is the precise moment when the real magic takes place and every time it always a new time: the bronze is heated in the crucible to 1150 degrees Centigrade and every single move made by the artisans involved is calculated and precise.
No space to mistake is left.
No space to human error can be allowed.
Every single process is very, very crucial and fundamental and must be carried out according to a well, longtime established plan where men and technique work together to a mutual consent.
And here you are with the final result: the bronze sculpture ready for display, after metal finishing by hand and a patina added with the use of acids and heat.
What else can be said but that we are so proud to read Robert’s saying :“I have done my bronze casting at the Mariani foundry in Pietrasanta, Tuscany, Italy, for the past 33 years. Their quality has always been outstanding, and it is a pleasure to work amongst such craftsmen”.
Maja’s innate artistic talent found its spring in a childhood spent among the wild landscape of Denmark where nature became to her the real and only source of life and inspiration.
Her beginnings were certainly rough and difficult and she had to wait till the age of 16 to be able to see some light at the end of her tunnel, without ever losing her beautiful smile.
Salvation came through Kierkegaard’s book, Works of Love, that she found in the library at Kalundborg and inspired her to take the Christian message seriously, successfully leading her to forgive the past she went through.
From that point on, she was able to enjoy a more productive life and, a year later, she entered the Funen Art Academy, https://detfynskekunstakademi.dk/en/ where she graduated in 1980.
Painting was her first creative act and her images were essentially abstract from the very start but always containing memories of the Danish landscape with strong connections to nature expressed in bright, rich colours ranging from solidly sketched sections to hazy, almost weightless fragments.
She did not begin to exhibit until she was 29 although she had begun to draw and paint from an early age, and she received immediate recognition in 1985 when she first exhibited at the Nikolaj Gallery in Copenhagen, which was followed in 1987 by her participation at Copenhagen’s Charlottenborg and Paris’s Grand Palais.
The path of faith led Maja to a spiritual and physical healing that brought her to forgive her mother and father and find a new joyful life for herself and her family.
In 2014 she was commissioned by an American friend a work to create a sculpted cross for Cornerstone University’s new Christ Chapel space and Maja’s approach for this particular sculpture, was to portray a risen Christ through the symbolism of an empty cross, the same that can be found in many other sacred spaces across the world.
Maja herself noted, “a cross with a Christ figure on it – I could never relate to it… I have made a cross, which is a cross of joy, a resurrection cross, life’s tree, joy’s tree.” Her focus on the resurrection of Christ’s story, versus the suffering of the cross, is for Maja the most important part.
She notes that “if there was no resurrection then we would be not here, we would not be believers.”
She has been working with Fonderia Artistica Mariani, for quite a long time using various materials to make her models: from clay to plaster and, for the final piece, from bronze or white bronze to other experimental alloys till golden plaster.
The finishing varies according to the final result requested, sometimes it has patina, sometimes the piece is simply brushed, sometimes it is finished with golden leaf technique.
Huge churches doors as high as 4 metres, as well as panels or altarpieces make part of her production at Fonderia Artistica Mariani in a continuum of works that convey the same strong faith in Christ’s resurrection in the language of joy and life.
FROM LIFE TO ART: MAJA LISA ENGELHARDT
Michael Kvium was Born in the east of Jutland and studied painting at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts under Albert Mertz and Stig Brogger.
His paintings and graphic works often resemble comic strip art or extensions of 17th-century Baroque paintings and depict the more negative aspects of Western culture according to Kvium’s perspective.
Motifs include grotesque monsters, half man half woman, sometimes approaching self-portraits.
In 1981, together with Erik A. Frandsen and Christian he was one of the cofounders of Værkstedet Værst, a collaborative workshop for performance art.
From the 1980s, his works started to include virus-like shapes as part of the growth cycles. Works from the 1990s also include bandaged figures depicting paralysis and claustrophobia as can be seen in Kor (1991).
Solo exhibitions at Aros Aarhus Kunstemuseum (2006) and Ordupgaard (2007) have included large works evoking relationships with the landscape and nature.
Kvium’s works are included in the collections of many of Denmark’s museums and galleries and his collaboration with Fonderia Artistica Mariani (www.fonderiamariani.com), expressed itself at its highest, with the work cast in bristre, patinated bronze, that was mounted on of the atrium pillars of the
CBC (Copenhagen Business School), entitled SOCIAL PATTERN, where a two pieces sculpture, weighing 360 kilos, was installed with the help of our artisans that flew over to Denmark on that specific purpose.
The sculpture adheres to the columns with almost invisible joints made by our experts, who worked with a special technique that made it possible for the joints to “disappear” from the spectator’s sight.
In order to achieve this specific result a 1/1 height column was built at the Fonderia Mariani to test the tenability of the whole project that shows a pattern of continuous human shaped figures that move from up to down and from down to up in a sort of intestine path.
Its aim is, using Michael Kvium’s own words, to stimulate a reflection on the relationship between the “us” and the “them” in modern society.
Bravo! Fonderia Mariani is so proud to have worked with you!
Michael Kvium at the Copenhagen Business School
Born and bred in the Venice area, Plazzotta came very soon under the aegis of the great Manzù, who exerted a strong influence over his work.
The war abruptly stopped his art studies and having volunteered for the regiment of the Bersaglieri, he was sent to North Africa, where he fought bravely until he was sent back to Italy.
With Mussolini’s fall, he broke up with the fascist regime and founded a partisan formation that led to his capture and imprisonment.
Once the war was over and he got released from prison, his artistic life started again and he could complete his studies at Brera, beginning a career that saw him working mainly in sculpture with a deep sense of urgency due to the awareness of the difficulties that, in the past, had made him started sculpting so late in life.
Plazzotta never shied away from difficulties either technical or symbolic and always succeeded in making bold statements with his art.
He spent most of his working life between London and Pietrasanta where he came to cast hi sculptures at Fonderia Artistica Mariani and had a personal studio, reaping the advantages of an environment where artists and artisans worked alongside each other, mixing up their talents with one common aim only: to create high quality pieces.
But Pietrasanta to him meant also marble and he tried his hand at carving, executing a large number of marble and onyx sculptures that enriched his prolific production.
According to critics, he was a modeller at heart and found in wax the perfect means to express himself,
but he loved also exploring the realm of acrylics and enjoyed himself in the production of a series of etchings that made a break from his usual sculptural idiom.
His sculpture has long been the subject of a critical controversy, that never questioned his technical accomplishment, that was always beyond criticism whether he was using bronze or silver cast from wax, or whether he was working in the fields of engraving and etching or marble; the main controversy was based on his preference to use more traditional subjects and models, so contrasting and rejecting the anti-representational conventions of modernity.
And this was clear enough from the very beginning, when he came to Fonderia Mariani and worked with our artisans on his Crucifixion in which the body of Christ serves also as part of the cross where he hangs on; or when he worked on the sculpture of Nureyev in 1979, where the dynamic image is a real embodiment of beauty and express in full the vigour of the human body.
There are so many stories to tell about Plazzotta ‘s living and working in close contact with us at Fonderia Mariani, but more than the stories, there are his sculptures that remind us of his time here and the long hours spent modelling in our studio.
ENZO PLAZZOTTA: AN ARTIST WITH A VISION
spent most of her childhood on a Dorset farm surrounded by animals and after having earned a degree in zoology at Swansea University, she moved to Florence in 1980 to study classical art techniques under the renowned teacher Nerina Simi (1890-1987).
Since 1982 she has been living in Tuscany between Florence and Siena. Starting with her first one-woman exhibition in Kings Street in London in 1983, her oils, drawings, pastels, etchings and, more recently, bronze sculptures (see her book, Twenty-Four Bronzes) have found large and loyal followings in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and North America.
In the past twelve years her bronzes, cast at Fonderia Artistica Mariani, have had much acclaim in Italian and German critical and collecting circles.
In 1997 she was elected a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.
Recent corporate commissions for classical life-size portraits in bronze have attracted wide attention and praise, but she also continues to paint, perfecting her exceptional skills in rendering animals and light, often in a very Tuscan setting.
Nature is her source of inspiration where she can express her love for the light of the sun and for coulours, through oil painting that allows her to express the beauty of movement, of shape, of surfaces.
Shingleton loves nature and loves the animal world so much that she seems able to delve into the animals’ daily life and routine and to understand deeply the animals’ limits and their daily battle for survival.
In most of Shingleton’s works there are clear hints of pure realisms if she loved going over and beyond the visual expectations especially when she works bronze “used in the past to represent majestic horses and bold lions” ( cit).
She loves working on smaller and less famous animals and instead of portraying them, she simply wants to create a story behind each piece and, above all, to add a playful and humoristic aspect to each sculpture.
For those who are new to this business it may be worth starting to answer a simple question: what do we mean by Patina?
#Patina is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of copper, bronze and similar metals.
On metal, patina is a coating of various chemical compounds such as oxides, carbonates, sulfides, or sulfates formed on the surface during exposure to atmospheric elements.
This is the technical answer, while on the art’s point of view, the patina is what makes a sculpture a unique piece of art
Artists and metalworkers often deliberately add patinas as a part of the original design and decoration of art and furniture, or to simulate antiquity in newly made objects a process that is often called “distressing”.
A wide range of chemicals, both household and commercial, can give a variety of patinas.
They are often used by artists as surface embellishments either for color, texture, or both.
Patination composition varies with the reacted elements and these will determine the color of the patina: for copper alloys, such as bronze, exposure to chlorides leads to green, while sulfur compounds (such as “liver of sulfur”) tend to brown.
The basic palette for patinas on copper alloys includes chemicals like ammonium sulfide (blue-black), liver of sulfur (brown-black), cupric nitrate (blue-green) and ferric nitrate (yellow-brown).
For artworks, patination is often deliberately accelerated by applying chemicals with heat.
Colors range from matte sandstone yellow to deep blues, greens, whites, reds and various blacks.
Some patina colours are achieved by the mixing of colors from the reaction with the metal surface with pigments added to the chemicals.
Sometimes the surface is enhanced by waxing, oiling, or other types of lacquers or clear-coats.
More simply the French sculptor Auguste Rodin used to instruct assistants at his studio to urinate over bronzes stored in the outside yard to get the final effect he wanted, but there is no more real need to do that in modern times.
A patina can be produced on copper by the application of vinegar (acetic acid) and this patina will be water-soluble and will not last on the outside of a building like a “true” patina, that’s why It is usually used as pigment.
Patina is also found on slip rings and commutators.
This type of patina is formed by the corrosion caused by the elements the air might hold, residue from the wear of the carbon brush and moisture; thus, the patina needs special conditions to work as intended.
Patinas can also be found in woks or other metal baking dishes, which form when properly seasoned. The patina on a wok is a dark coating of oils that have been burned onto it to prevent food sticking and to enhance the flavor of the foods cooked in it. Steaming foods or using soap on a wok or other dishware could damage the patina and possibly allow rust.
Knife collectors that own carbon steel blades, sometimes force a patina onto the blade to help protect it and give it a more personalized look.
This can be done using various chemicals and substances such as muriatic acid, apple cider vinegar, or mustard and it can also be done by sticking the blade into any acidic vegetable or fruit such as an orange or an apple.