The art of sculpting has existed since ancient times. Over the years, many different types of materials have been used for creating sculptures. Clay, wood, bronze, or marble was used in most of the classic sculptures. There are certain materials used in the process, which never make it to the finished piece of art.
Some of them are sand and wax. They are mainly used in the casting of metals and are often considered supporting materials. It would be quite difficult to make the final sculpted piece without them. Some of the materials used in sculpture are more exotic, such as glass, fabrics, and ice.
It can be quite a challenge to create a sculpture out of stone. One wrong stroke of the hammer on the chisel can ruin or permanently damage the entire statue. Stone sculptures are even more challenging owing to the cost of material and their unforgiving nature.
This is why most aspiring sculptors train themselves at an art college before making a major attempt. However, there are certainly positive aspects of stone sculptures. They have the ability to endure through the ages. Stone sculptures of the highest quality also sell at high prices.
Derived from limestone, marble is a metamorphic rock. It is mostly composed of a crystalline form of calcium carbonate called ‘calcite’. Marble gives a sculpture created out of it an immense visual depth. This is mainly owing to its quality of translucency, which can be compared to the human skin.
When it is initially quarried, it has a certain degree of softness. This makes marble easy to work on, refine, and polish. Marble does have certain disadvantages as well. It absorbs skin oils when touched, leading to staining of a brownish yellow colour. It can also be damaged by acid rains.
Clay has always been a favourite of sculptors. It can be worked with either a reductive method or an additive method. The reductive method employed in sculpture is similar to carving. In the additive method, separate pieces are joined before the finished piece is fired in a kiln.
Sculptors also used unfired clay sculptures to make working models before carving larger pieces. It is the oldest known ceramic material and was used extensively in pottery owing to its useful properties.
Among the most popular metals used in sculpture is bronze. The wax replacement method is often used for casting a bronze sculpture. After casting, the bronze sculpture is cooled, cleaned, and polished. Giving a patina to a bronze sculpture has become a sub-art over the years.
A patina can also be created by the bronze sculpture’s natural ageing. Sculpting with steel or iron has become common in recent times. This is mainly due to the quality of modern welding equipment. Stainless steel is commonly used for creating industrial art pieces.
5. Other materials
With proper training, a beautiful glass sculpture can be created by the sculptor. Art colleges and professional studios usually don’t have the required facilities for making glass sculptures. Hardwood can also be used to make high-quality sculptures.
Wood is used often in folk art and is a versatile material. Ice is also used as a material for creating some fantastic ice sculptures. They can be seen at the annual Quebec City Winter Carnival in Canada and the Ice Hotel in Sweden.