'Silvi-Skullpture Series - Black Bear Birch, 2011' by Shane Wilson (complete)

LINK: Gallery Images

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear Birch' by Shane Wilson


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'Silvi-Skullpture Series - Black Bear Oak, 2011' by Shane Wilson (complete)

LINK: Gallery Images

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Oak' by Shane Wilson


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'Silvi-Skullpture Series 2011' - Black Bear, Oak - Raw Bronze

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Red Oak' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze a
The raw bronze has been returned from the foundry.

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Red Oak' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze b
Some of the gates and matrix from the casting process are still attached and will need to be ground away using carbide burrs and sanding disks.

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Red Oak' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze c
This process is called 'chasing.'

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Red Oak' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze d
Also, I will add some additional detailing directly into the bronze prior to finishing with a multicoloured patina.


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'Silvi-Skullpture Series 2011' - Black Bear, Birch Bark- Raw Bronze

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Birch Bark' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze a
The raw bronze has been returned from the foundry.

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Birch Bark' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze b
Some of the gates and matrix from the casting process are still attached and will need to be ground away using carbide burrs and sanding disks.

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Birch Bark' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze c
This process is called 'chasing.'

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Black Bear, Birch Bark' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze d
Also, I will add some additional detailing directly into the bronze prior to finishing with a multicoloured patina.


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'Silvi-Skullpture Series 2011' - Three Waxes

I have decided to create another series of themed bronze Skullptures, and to continue to do so on an annual basis going forward.

Part of the inspiration for this decision came from an invitation to show at the
Algonquin Arts Centre Gallery in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada. The Algonquin Arts Centre Gallery is open seasonally from June 1 to mid October each year.

This year the theme for their exhibition and sale is 'The International Year of Forests', which was chosen to coincide with the United Nations initiative of the same name.

I will incorporate forest themes into unique bronze sculptures which will comprise this year's aptly named 'Silvi-Skullpture Series, 2011'.

'Silvi-Skullpture Series, 2011' - three waxes ready for bronze casting - a
The first three waxes have been individually sculpted and delivered to the foundry: two black bear skulls and one wolf skull. Each wax has been created as a unique sculpture, in a one-of-one 'edition'.

The first black bear employs a red oak theme, the second a birch bark theme, and the wolf a pine beetle track set.

I'll be creating more as the year progresses, so stay tuned.

'Silvi-Skullpture Series, 2011' - three waxes ready for bronze casting - b
Sculpting wax is an art unto itself. It has properties which allow: carving (like ivory or antler), melting and fusing (like metal), smoothing and addition (like clay or paint).

You may notice that the wax is differently coloured. The red wax is the purest casting wax and most brittle. The darker waxes have been through the burn out process at least once and contain sprue wax in combination with the casting wax, making for a softer, stickier more malleable wax.

Once the bronzes return from the foundry, I will carve them again, refining existing detail and adding the final design elements and embellishments, before applying the patina and finish.

I have decided to create these sculptures to stand alone without a base, or to hang on a wall with a sturdy nail or hook.


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'Skullpture Series - Black Bear 1, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 1, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

The designs for each carving are drawn directly onto the raw bronze prior to carving. (2004-2005) The bronzes below are in various states of design and carving, all preliminary. Two of the skulls (small wolverine and grizzly) were finished and patinated without being carved. I decided to change this later and carved both skulls.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 1
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Using power grinders and carbide burrs, designed for metal work, the designs are carved and the bases are completed using black granite. Following the carving the surface is smoothed with sandpaper, depending on the kind of patination to be applied. (2004-2007)

Below are a selection of images taken during this phase.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Seal 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Large Wolverine 1

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Grizzly 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Human 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Human 1

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Wolf 2
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Prior to patination, it is important to clean the surface of the bronze, to remove impurities and any surface oxidation. The most effective way to do this is to sandblast the surface with a fine grit sand. It is important to avoid touching the surface of the bronze with bare hands after this process, as it will pick up oils and create uneven application/oxidization of the patina.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

The next stage is to apply the base coat, which in this case is an application of Birchwood Casey applied cold and then rinsed. An alternative base coat would be liver of sulphur, also applied cold. Following the rinsing, the bronze is heated to set the base coat and then the whole is rubbed back with steel wool.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Finally it is time to apply the patina! There are numerous oxidizing agents available for patination, all lending a unique look and colour to the bronze. I have chosen to use bismuth nitrate (with varying additions of titanium oxide) and silver nitrate for the human skull and some accents on other pieces (eg. wolverine). The patina is also applied by brush, lending a unique, ringed pattern to the finish. The patina is applied to a hot bronze surface, made so with an open flamed torch. Following the application the entire surface is quenched in water and reheated to dry the bronze and set the patina. The pics below show the patination set up and a variety of pieces in various stages of completion. Note the patina seems much whiter than it will appear after the final coat of lacquer is applied.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

The patina is fragile and needs to be protected by a couple of coats of lacquer. Since the lacquer lends a plastic look to surface, two coats of Trewax are applied and buffed to dull the surface down and provide additional protection. Voila, the finished bronzes!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)

The bronzes will be photographed professionally and I'll post the images as they become available.
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
skulls left to right: grizzly, black bear, wolf, fox, beaver, lynx, large wolverine, martin, seal, small wolverine, human

The Skullpture Series begins with real skulls. Each skull has been prepped for the mold making process. The natural holes have been filled with Chavant clay to prevent the intrusion of silicone into the skull.

It is necessary to create molds from each of the skulls in order to create wax duplicates, which will then be cast in bronze.

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
small wolverine skull

Since the technique used to prepare the molds differs depending on the size of the object to be cast, we will follow the mold making process for a small skull, small wolverine (above), and a large skull, grizzly (below).

Skullpture Series, Grizzly by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
grizzly skull
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Black Bear 2, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls) - Artist Statement
"Just as a fossil uncovered is evidence of life, so too, this carved bronze Skullpture Series reflects the architecture of being alive."
Shane Wilson


Skullpture Series, Black Bear 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Black Bear 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Grizzly 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Grizzly 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Grizzly 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Human 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Human 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Human 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Wolverine 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Large Wolverine 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Large Wolverine 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Seal 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Seal 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Seal 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Small Wolverine 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Wolf 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Wolf 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Wolf 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze skullpture carving, bronze skull sculpture)

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