Making Of Buddha Statue By Lost Wax Method
Making a metal Buddha statue is a lengthy process which requires great skill and time. Sculpting of a large piece can take up to 6 or even more months and several artisans to work on it for accomplishment. In ancient times, the methods of making statues were kept secret among few families in Patan and Kathmandu. The skill was passed down to generation and was guarded from those outside the family circle.
The making of statue is known as “Lost Wax” method as the original wax model is drained out by heat from the mold and is LOST in that sense.
There are majorly three major steps of casting a sculpture.
- Sculpturing a wax mould,
- Sculpturing a clay mould and
- Metal casting.
Firstly, a core model is made using beeswax exactly how the statue will appear after being ready. For each statue, each core wax model should be made. The thickness of wax model should exactly be as the thickness desired for the metal statue. Tools made from horn of animals are used to design the wax model. The black wax model is made by softening the wax by heating. The artist gives a definite structure and makes a wax model as how it should appear in metal.
After the wax model is ready, in the second stage, it is covered with thin layer of liquefied soil mixed cow dung and then a thick layer inside-out the structure; the latter soil is mixed with rice peel to make it thicker. Then, it is dried in sun for several days. The nails are put through the wax to hold the outer mold away from the core, which stop it from collapsing as the metal run through. Once the wax model is dried completely it is baked in a very hot kiln which melts the wax inside. The melted wax is poured out by making a small hole with a pointed tool. Through same hole the extremely heated and liquefied metal is poured inside. The amount of the required metal can be estimated from the amount of wax used because the liquid metal will replace the beeswax in the mold block. Normally one kilogram of wax is replaced by 100 grams of metal.
The metal takes the shape of the wax inside the soil coat. It is placed in the cold water for cooling. After several days the soil coated is broken by hammer and the rough metal statue is obtained. This entire process is completed in more or less 2 months.
The rough metal statue still needs a lot of work- it needs to be smoothed, trimmed, carved and polished. Sometime there are leftover chunks of metal that need to fill off. The holes from the nails that kept the core separate from the plaster mold during casting may be filled with the same metal as was used for the image- so you can hardly see them. If the metal failed to reach any parts of the image, patches may also now be added on and smoothed over.
Once the rough metal statue is smoothed and polished, it then gets carving and detailing. After that the statue is oxidized, gold plated, painted or antiquated and given a complete finishing.