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”.