Sculpture Creation
After Sculptor Ira Chaffin finishes modeling a sculpture, it is cast into one of several popular durable mediums: plaster, plastic, or metal. This section will focus on bronze casting since it is the most popular choice of his clients.

Hot molten Bronze pouring into
Sculpture Mold

Bronze has been used as a finished sculptural medium since about 4000 BC in Mesopotamia. There are examples of bronze cast female fertility symbol votive statues found in major museums around the world and also major pieces from the Egyptian pyramids. Many famous pieces from the golden age of Greece and Rome demonstrate the capacity of this medium to capture every line and detail of the human figure. Continuing through the Renaissance, bronze was a very popular choice of famous Italian sculptors like Bernini, Leonardo da Vinci and Verrocchio.

Bronze is very durable and won’t chip like marble, crack like plastic, or disintegrate under weathering like plaster. It can withstand submersion in water, as demonstrated by the occasional ship wreck retrievals from the Mediterranean Sea of lost Grecian or Roman sculptures from the Golden Age. It can also withstand volcanic eruptions, as evidenced by the excavations at Pompeii and Herculean.

Molten Metal getting ready to Pour

Molten Metal being Poured into Sculpture Mold

Bronze sculptures can be mounted both inside a building or outside in a landscape setting, with greater surface consistency possible on inside installations due to more regular climate control. The Artist can create a sculpture for your setting, either inside or outside, according to your goals.

The sculpture creation process starts with Ira modeling the sculpture in oil based clay (sort of like “silly putty”, a clay with an oil content that doesn’t ever dry out) or in a ceramic water based clay (this kind of clay requires wetting down like pottery clay) or in sculptural wax. He selects the creation material according to the type of piece contemplated. For portraits, he prefers to work in oil based clay so that it is always malleable as he continues to create the likeness and make refinements.

When the client accepts the sculptural likeness and casting is authorized, the sculpture is encased in a plaster mold which is sort of like making a cast for a broken leg. This encasement preserves the sculptural form and a custom created rubber insert is made and placed inside the encasement. Large rubber bands are placed around the plaster mold which comes apart in pieces for ease of release of the mold. Hot brown sculptural wax is poured into the mold, with the most outer edges drying faster than the middle, thus allowing the middle portion of wax to be poured out. In this manner, the remaining wax in the mold clings to the outer surfaces of the mold, sort of like a chocolate Easter bunny which is hollow in the middle.

Skimming over
Hotel Metal

Vestment around Sculpture

Handling Vestment during Pouring

Sculpted hands converted into wax

Parts of Ira’s Sculpture during Casting

Artist checking waxes

Wax of Sculpted

Wax of Lower Legs

Pouring Founts

Bronze after Vestment

Sandblasting Bronze after

Waxing over Completed

Ira Chaffin Sculpture 1309 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35205
Chaffin Carousel Carving School  Phone: 205.789.7925
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