Scaling Up: from “Sketch” to Wax Model

By: Trevor Gregg

In my last two posts about working with bronze, you may have noticed that the sculptures I chose to show were all made with little to no preliminary work. Don’t be fooled by this – sculptors aren’t spared from the process of planning out their work! Sometimes sketches and schematics are beneficial tools for working out a piece, but it can be tricky translating a 2-dimentional image into a 3-dimentional form in real space.

Which is why it is beneficial to get into the habit of “sketching”…with modeling clay!

Small scale models of a sculpture are often referred to as maquettes or modellos. They allow the artist to “sketch” their ideas for a sculpture in 3-dimentions, so anything that isn’t working in real space can be corrected quickly. Right now I am really interested in organic, biomorphic abstractions of form, so modeling clay works perfectly for making my maquettes. However it isn’t the only way to sketch. Thin cardboard or other materials might be better, especially if an artist works with more geometric forms.

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A handful of maquettes, in their native habitat

Just like in any other media, once you have a sketch that you like it can be used to develop a final work of art. Here is a piece that I’ve been working on this semester. It’s still a work in progress, but you can see how I was able to turn a palm-sized maquette into a much larger wax model.

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Have a wonderful weekend!

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