There are many steps in my process toward achieving a finished piece. First off I have to decide on who the models will be. After the models have been chosen and have agreed to being part of the process, we then take life cast molds directly from their physical form using a special effects silicone rubber and medical grade plaster bandages. There are many sections of molds that have to be taken if we want more of the body as part of the final piece. This can be enduring for the models. In this particular piece for Glassroots we have taken 8 body sections, 2 tools molds, and 3 bench molds. When all the molds have been taken, they will need to be used to make the figures out of wax. I use a microcrystalline wax called Optimus 3.0 that is sometimes mixed with a harder wax if weather becomes too hot and interfers with keeping the form stable. Before I pour hot wax into the molds I have to check for holes within the rubber. I pour water into the mold and If there are any holes that the water leaks out of, I have to patch them with more silicone and then re-check again after the patch sets. This is a time consuming process of checking, repairing, waiting, and re-checking. When the molds are ready I pour the hot wax into the molds at about 180 degrees F. In some molds, depending on their orientation, I have to alter how the wax goes into the mold. It may have to be painted, splashed, swished, etc. The inner mold form has to be completely covered and thick enough to be modeled with the other waxes to become a whole form. This can lead to multiple wax pours and even re-doing some of the initial molds depending on what is captured in the initial life cast.
Dean Allison is a studio artist working with portrait sculpture and the figure with glass. His studio is in Pittsburgh PA. Dean is working on a commissioned sculpture for our new space in the Newark Arts Common. Follow Dean as he works to create this new significant work of art.