The Lost Wax Casting Method

The Lost Wax Casting Method

There Are No Limits,
The Making of a McGary Bronze

Mcgary Painting a Bronze by HandMcgary Demonstrating the Design of a HorseMcgary Showing the Sand Blasting Process

All McGary sculptures start with a skeleton or armature. Dave creates a complete unclothed human being in wax and then adds the complex details and clothing to the figure. Once the clay figure is complete, a mold is made and then a series of rubber molds. The rubber mold is filled with melted wax. When cooled the wax is pulled away.

The wax model is then dipped into a slurry to create a new mold. This ceramic mold is then heated, and the wax burns away leaving an empty cavity. This technique is known as the “Lost Wax Method” (also known as, the “Lost Wax Casting Process” for making bronze busts, statues, life-size bronzes and other various sizes of bronze sculptures). Now molten bronze, an alloy copper, phosphorus, tin, zinc and other trace elements is poured into the cavity left by the wax.

The ceramic mold with the bronze inside must be cooled before divesting. The divesting process is the removal of the ceramic mold by literally beating off the mold with hammers.

The finishing process at McGary Studios in Ruidoso, NM, is now ready to begin. The foundries, who casts McGary bronzes, send the rough cast bronze pieces to the studio to be finished. Because of the intricate detail, as many as 160 separate casting of feathers, guns, regalia and other small details are required for each bronze.

A bronze sculpture begins to take shape and form first in the bronze metal finishing studio. Dave’s team of artisans build the bronze from these separate castings into the completed piece which represents McGary’s original sculpture. This is accomplished by grinding, welding and resurfacing all areas of the bronze to eliminate any imperfections. The bronze then is placed in a sandblaster to smooth and even out the surface of the bronze in preparation for the patina.

The patina process consists of heating the bronze and applying chemicals, which speed up the oxidation process, creating shades of color which are the signature mark of any McGary sculpture. Prior to beginning the process, areas of work must be covered with foil to protect them from exposure to oxidation, while working on other sections. Then each small section of the bronze is heated and painted with the chemicals until just the right shade of skin tone or the precise design of the eagle feather is ultimately achieved.

The bronze then moves to the paint studio. Here each artist utilizes painting techniques developed by Dave McGary over the past 27 years. The techniques have become the symbol of his originality in the art world today, but date back to the ancient Greeks.

Each beadwork design is unique to the warrior and is carefully painted bead by bead to create the startling lifelike finish. The painting of the colorful jackets, beaded leggings, swords, guns, intricately designed shields and a miriad of animal feathers adorning each statue requires unfalting attention to detail and uncommon artistic talent. Even the precise Native American leger drawings on the buffalo robes, which tell the story of each warrior’s life and his success in battle, are individually hand-painted.

Once the bronze is completed, it is then sealed and protected to withstand the elements. This preserves the McGary bronze for generations to come. The bronze is then mounted on its own hand-crafted base of fine wood or marble and subjected to rigorous quality control standards. Dave personally inspects each bronze throughout the process, and no piece leaves the studio without his signature of approval.

Finally, each bronze is carefully packed and shipped to collectors around the world. In the case of this lifesize, “Bear Tracks”, the team at McGary Studio installs the lifesize at an office building using hydrolic lifts and other unique equipment designed by them to handle thousand of pounds of weight, but at the same time carefully the piece in the precise location expected. The bronze is then inspected one last time by Dave to ensure every line and angle is correct and all small pieces are positioned as they should be. Only now is the sculpting and finishing process really complete.

Using his desire to glorify and detail the proud Sioux and educated people about their role in history, McGary bronzes reveal a mixture of influences ranging from Italian Rennosance art, 19th and 20th century American naturalists or realists to an element of the Western genre. Most importantly, they reflect his strong feeling of respect for his subjects. He has lived among the Sioux. He has listened to their stories and shared their disappointments and dreams.

Experience the talent of Dave McGary, his unique expressions in bronze, and share his artistic vision.

There Are No Limits!
Dave McGary using clay sculpting tools to add finishing touches to clay sculpture

Dave McGary adding
finishing touches to the
monument sculpture named
“The Founding of Santa Fe”

Lost Wax Method being administered to on monument for Santa Fe, New Mexico

Application of sand
onto damp ceramic of
“The Founding of Santa Fe”

Adding fine details to bronze statue of Native American chielf

Metalwork on
“Touch the Clouds”
Masterwork at
McGary Studios

Welding metal sections together of bronze sculpture

Assembling of
“The Founding of Santa Fe”
monument statue

Chief Washakie - U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.

The one and one-half times life size of “The Founding
of Santa Fe” monument
was installed and dedicated during the Fiesta Days
at Grant Park in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1992

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