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Can You Find My Welds?

Most sculptures, with the exception of those small enough to be cast solid, are cast in sections that are later welded together to complete a whole sculpture.  Welding melts the edges of the adjoining sections.  We learn to reproduce the language of the original artwork’s detail and texture to restore the detail lost during welding.  Sprues, the plumbing that directs molten metal to the sculpture during casting leaves scars that require the same texture and detail restoration.  The welds must be very close to the same thickness as the adjoining metal because any significant variation will cause temperature variation during patination, resulting in a color shift that will reveal the weld.

Re-creating texture in the weld requires many different tools and the skill to use them.  It is a constant learning process because there is no end to the textures artists apply to their artwork; we must be able to re-produce them all.  Texture and detail can be anything from polished smooth to fabric, scales, fur, fingerprints and on and on, if you can imagine it, it exists or will exist on a sculpture somewhere sometime.

We use many techniques and tools including; hand carving the metal with pencil die grinders and an assortment of burrs, wire brushing with various kinds of rotating brushes, grinding, drilling, peening, sanding, blasting, filing and others that we make up as we find new textures and new ways to re-create them.

Tools are important but the experience and skill of the metal finisher is the critical element in getting a satisfactory result.  It takes years of experience to do an undetectable fit, weld and texture.

The answer to the question in the title of this article is; no, you cannot find my welds.  The welds are completely and accurately integrated into the finished sculpture, all texture and detail is matched to the original artwork and the patina is uniform throughout the piece.

Chris Andrews – Metal Finisher


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