All MetalShaping

Go Back   All MetalShaping > General Metal Shaping Discussion > Basic questions and answers
  Today's Posts Posts for Last 7 Days Posts for Last 14 Days  

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 01-12-2013, 10:47 PM
widget widget is offline
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Southern Minnesota
Posts: 4
Question How do you form figure sculptures?

I've dug around this site a bit and learned how some techniques are done but I haven't found anything on how you make figure statues.

Some of the ones I've found around are these pictures and I am curious how you would go about making these forms? Are they from molds, free hand or that paper technique?

With the ones made out of nuts, I don't see any weld marks on the outside. Do you think its welded or brazed or some other?

I'm mostly just concerned with how these are assembled to such anatomically correct detail(the nut ones have defined musculature, etc) so I just presume its some kind of mold?

Would you just clean up the weld marks with a grinder then wire wheel and 180-600 sand paper and maybe buffer?

How would you seal the metal after the work is done? Wouldn't it oxidize and such from just being open to air?

Also, those people that are into scrap metal art, where is the best/cheapest place to get good/interesting scrap metal from? Junk yards might be good but seem like they'd be expensive. The ones around here don't let you strip your own pieces. I'm talking, gears, bearings, bike chains, hinges and such.

Any pointers would be appreciated. Thanks.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2013, 05:38 AM
jochem jochem is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: zwolle, netherlands
Posts: 67

I'm certainly no expert on this matter. I would thinks it's quite hard te remove any mould from the object after welding. Since there are only minor welds, it would be easy to tap the discs or nuts into shape after welding. I guess it would be possible to make seperate parts (like a head) on a buck and assemble them after removing the bucks.

I'd say the time spent gathering scrap would not match just buying new bolts or rings etc. I'd go for stainless and just sandblast the sculpture after welding.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2013, 08:19 AM
Kerry Pinkerton's Avatar
Kerry Pinkerton Kerry Pinkerton is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Near Huntsville, Alabama. Just south of the Tennessee line off I65
Posts: 8,326

Joe, thanks for the photos. I enjoyed them.

I looked for a couple years for a high quality mannequin. I can't recall the name of Monique's manufacturer but she was made from a mold made from a real person which is why the proportions are so good. If you haven't seen my version of Monique, search for her name.

Most mannequins are 'dress hangers' and they are only concerned with making the clothes show well. When I started looking I could only find bland no muscle tone clothes hangers or pornographic models. I found Monique's mannequin on Ebay.

Monique is aluminum and has held up well with here brushed finish.
Kerry Pinkerton
Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2013, 02:51 PM
Sinister Sleds Sinister Sleds is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Northshore, New England
Posts: 73

There is a guy close to me that does this kind of work.

Very cool stuff.

I would guess it is mostly freehand. Welded from behind and working up slowly. This is a technique used to make segemented bowls as well (working in layers).

The sculpture could be done with stainless as suggested or even raw steel hardware that was then cleared with a flattened automotive clear so it does not become glossy.

I would think your best bet for parts is finding a local mechanic and ask him for junk parts. A lot of interesting parts come from transmissions and engines.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2013, 12:10 AM
widget widget is offline
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Southern Minnesota
Posts: 4

The guy that did the top couple forms also did post this picture of a work in progress.

He had this to say about how hes working this current one.

"Sometimes it's helpful to see an artist's work in progress to help convey the method of fabrication.To this end,I present a current work I'm very excited about.This will be a life size figure in 1/8th inch bronze when I'm done.To accomplish the accurate form I'm sheathing a previous steel figure with bronze scrap I've been saving for years from other projects.The steel figure beneath is also welded from steel scrap and so stoutly I can really hammer hard on it.This makes it possible to place my bits of BRONZE scrap on the surface,tack weld in place,then hammer with various ball pein hammers.The clamps in the photo help to hold the bronze skin in place and when I tack weld it I make very certain I'm welding it only to another bronze piece and NOT to the the steel structure beneath.By hammering on the surface in this way and using the torch in my left hand to warm up certain stubborn areas,I can really lay down the bronze sheet snugly against the body capturing the sensuous curve of this well proportioned model...In this case on the surface I am tack welding with the MIG welder running stainless wire.I am able to weld DIRECTLY to SILICON BRONZE and this is STRUCTURAL.After all the parts are in place and I've forged and beaten them flat and flush,I will then cut seams along the left and right side of the body to REMOVE the bronze shell from the steel armature.I will then weld the two parts back together and change over to running silicon bronze wire and fill in some of the voids choosing strategically for aesthetic affect.The bronze figure without it's steel armature will be displayed outside and eventually take on a lovely darkened patina.I'll burnish some of the high points which will reveal the many hammer blows and help push the contrast which will further emphasize the form.The model had a gorgeous butt to my eyes,small and firm but well shaped,and I'll go to special lengths not to lose that delightful and erotic aspect in the piece.I think it's very important that any visual artist make the work for they themselves first rather than consider how it may be received by others,the public,or the market.Paying too much attention to what others may think might possibly cause one to censer something that might be more powerful and authentic if left expressed..."


He also had this piece he talked about making...

"This is the back view showing the pattern of recycled scrap steel punch parts simulating the vertebrae. I just got the piece back after a year of it being in a gallery in Walnut Creek. It did not sell but that's OK ,because for now I get to enjoy the piece once more...

Update July 19th:
Thank you one and all for the D.D. I am truly honored once again...

I have here a brief explanation of the method of fabrication since it is not necessarily self evident,and is an interesting process I hope to put on video one day to share with other metal sculptors.
First off I start with thin SHELL MOLDS. I use the same material a doctor would wrap a broken arm with. It's called SPECIALIST WRAP and is a gauze impregnated with plaster that is activated by hot water. I lubricate the model's skin with a high viscosity sun tan oil (Bain de Soleil works well),so that the mold will not stick to their skin,(hair removal is essential as well). In this case I was the subject and I taught my models how to take the molds...
MY whole body was taken in this case by 4 sections each about 45 minute poses. The thin and fragile molds are set aside for 24 hours to harden in preparation for the next step.
I then build boxes that roughly contain the shape of each mold . This is to contain liquid plaster that will be poured beneath the mold as it's inner side is facing up. In this way I can build up a thick layer of plaster that adheres to the OUTSIDE of each mold surface,strengthening it and allowing it to remain intact and accommodate the heat of welding and the weight of the steel parts as they are added.When this restructuring of the molds is accomplished I can then start to fabricate the figure within it,hand forming each metal bit with a ball pein hammer on the anvil until the bit fits PERFECTLY against the inside of the mold. Only when the scrap punch part fits just right is it welded to it's neighbor,and thus the form is built up meticulously and slowly bit by bit. The four molds that make up the body are thus fabricated in this way and in the final phase are welded to each other ON THE OUTSIDE of the figure.But all this diligent concentration and sustained effort has it's reward in that the end result is AN EXACT copy of the person's body,not smaller and not larger,but precisely the form one started with...
It is interesting to note ,that I had the figure headless for a year,feeling it just wasn't quite complete,when I thought of the contrivance involving NEGATIVE SPACE with the head.
I frenetically got out a mirror set it up and did a face mold of myself. With this face mold and the process stated above ,I was able to complete the figure with my own peculiar profile. When I welded it on the body and set it up in the studio for the final critique and saw the exact likeness of myself in steel I went into some strange resonant altered state of consciousness. It is such a peculiar feeling to see yourself PROJECTED OUTWARD manifested on the physical plane SEPARATE but EQUAL...Words are insufficient to describe the experience...but even as strange as it was,it was also most INTERESTING and totally engaging. This effect ,at least for me, is one of the hidden benefits of making metal sculpture both figurative and abstract,it seems to marshal all my forces,life experience,awkward sympathies,addiction to beauty ,and like some psychic MENTAL FLOSS,allow me to process and integrate the salient features of my life...

I start with thin shell molds taken off the live model. In this torso,4 sections. I use Johnson& Johnson Specialist Wrap which is cotton gauze impregnated with plaster,activated by hot water. The models body is lubricated with spray suntan oil after all hair is removed so that the molds will not stick. After the very thin and fragile casts have hardened by air drying for 24 hours,I go about the tedious process of reinforcing the outer surface (of the molds)with more layers of wrap and liquid plaster. Eventually the molds are reinforced enough to remain intact even with the heat of welding and the considerable weight of the steel bits,(in this one about 100 lbs). At this point I'm ready to start placing the bits of scrap steel and MIG weld (wire feed) them together making sure each piece sits flush against the inside surface of the mold. In this labor intensive way the form is slowly built up and the full figure revealed.
Depending on the thickness of the scrap steel bits used, (in this instance they are 3/6 thick),the final welded form can be VERY stout,stout enough to use as an armature and forge another layer of metal OVER this form. That is what I did with my piece titled "Form Follows Function".
It has been forged and hot hammered over this piece then after the whole figure enclosed, it is cut away and re-welded into a new sculpture...
I am currently using this form to make a third sculpted figure but this time in scrap 1/8th inch thick sheet silicon bronze."

So I get he makes a mold of the person but I think he talks about taking a second mold and I get confused at that point. I'm not sure if he makes like an inversion mold that you can just lay the metal in instead of using like a mannequin and wrapping stuff around.

I thought about just laying nuts around a statue but how would you remove the thing? Burn it out? Do like the guy above and cut down the sides and refuse?

One other question is with the guy making the bronze sculpture, how would you hide all those metal lines? Fill'em high and grind'em smooth? Thats probably a really new guy question just trying to learn I guess... I don't know how to hide welds without primer and such would defeats the purpose of keeping it metal.

Kerry - I did see a post about your Monique and will re-read it after reading these again.

Is there a name for this technique or process that I could try to dig more up??

Last edited by widget; 01-14-2013 at 12:28 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2013, 12:50 AM
fc59 fc59 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: west sydney
Posts: 35

Originally Posted by widget View Post

looks like the start of a 007 bond film LOL
thanks for your time and input

Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2013, 02:25 AM
gerry miller's Avatar
gerry miller gerry miller is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: RockyFord,Colorado
Posts: 291
Default Very Nice

Awesome stuff, I wonder how long it took to make the Snaker??
Kinda like to put him by the front door...
Gerry Miller
Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2013, 06:31 AM
EnR EnR is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 28

I found this fascinating. Thanks for putting it up widget. I wouldn't mind trying to do something like this myself (something fairly simple).
Ian Randall
Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2013, 06:46 PM
Richard-S Richard-S is offline
Member MetalShaper of the Month Nov 2013
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico
Posts: 191

He takes the molds he makes with the medical plaster/cloth, and makes boxes to fit them that he can pour plaster into as mother molds to back up the outer faces of the fragile medical molds. Then he can place nuts or disks or whatever against the surface that was originally against the model's body.

I suspect he did not make a life cast of the rattlesnake.

When I die heaven can wait, I want to go to McMaster-Carr.

My sculpture web page

Last edited by Richard-S; 01-14-2013 at 06:47 PM. Reason: spelling
Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2013, 10:25 PM
widget widget is offline
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Southern Minnesota
Posts: 4

A video from his page of how he made the filigree sculpture.

"He takes the molds he makes with the medical plaster/cloth, and makes boxes to fit them that he can pour plaster into as mother molds to back up the outer faces of the fragile medical molds. Then he can place nuts or disks or whatever against the surface that was originally against the model's body."

I am more focused on the forms made from the nuts and the snake. The washer and dot ladies would be a lot easier to work with I think.

I get these take molds and you just form the metal around the surface. But my real questions are how do you either 1) get the mold out from the inside once it done or 2) Make two halves from the mold and just seam them together, which then, how do you seam something so intricate as the one made from the nuts?

As a sidenote, my biggest bafflement is that I don't see any weld marks on the outside of the nut one or the snake which makes me question how they were even made? The snakes assembly is overlayed so you'd have to like work backwards in assembly to hide the welds, if it even is welded? Makes me wonder if it isn't glued or something?

I am picturing a few ways to assembly these.

1) Wrap the metal around a mold, weld from the outside, grind smooth. How to remove mold itself?

2) (Talking nut one) Draw a seam line on your mold so know where to stop building to. Make two halves and seam them together, weld from the outside, grind smooth.

3) Make like an inverted mold. Meaning, don't use the mannequin, use the mold that makes the mannequin. Lay the nuts neatly inside, weld from the inside. Somehow figure out how to seam them together from two mold forms.

I think I have to read up a bit more on this shell molding technique. I read the thread on how that guy made the vase and he make his form from stiff paper basically. I get this but I don't understand it well enough to grasp how one could apply that technique to making something like this? It seems that technique would be used more for making a statue from sheet metal then filigrees, nuts or punched dots. I guess its one of those things I'll have to just get out and try and see how it works. As far as the paper technique and nuts, I think you may be able to just lay the nuts on the inside(to weld from the inside) and assemble that way but there'd be like a shrinkage and you'd have to leave a row of nuts out I think because the mold would be smaller on the inside than outside.

I'm basically just thinking out loud in this thread.

Does anyone see anything wrong with the way I'm thinking of assembling here because I don't, but I don't have a lot of experience in this field but I really want to make one of these.

Last edited by widget; 01-14-2013 at 10:47 PM.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:10 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions Inc.