Services

Workhorse works with artists and galleries, enabling them to realise their vision for their artworks.

Our aim is to keep clients completely informed of our progress and we always take responsibility along every step of the process. We don’t just provide technical support, but also creative input in order to bring the collaboration to fruition. We make every effort to maintain humility and accountability throughout the project process. Our relationships with our clients and partners are deeply valued by our team.

Process

Modelling

An artist creates an original model from wax, clay, or another material and hands it over to Workhorse to make a mould.

Mouldmaking

A mould is made of the original model or sculpture. The rigid outer moulds contain the softer inner mould, which is the exact negative of the original model. Inner moulds are made of silicone, which is supported by the outer mould. The outer moulds are made from fiberglass. Most moulds are made of at least two pieces, and a shim with keys is placed between the parts during construction so that the mould can be put back together accurately. If there are long, thin pieces extending out of the model, they are often cut off of the original and moulded separately. Sometimes many moulds are needed to recreate the original model, especially for large models.

Wax

Once the mould is finished, molten wax is poured into it and swished around until an even coating, usually about 3 mm thick, covers the inner surface of the mould. This is repeated until the desired thickness is reached. Another method is to fill the entire mould with molten wax and let it cool until a desired thickness has set on the surface of the mould. After this the rest of the wax is poured out again, the mould is turned upside down and the wax layer is left to cool and harden. With this method it is more difficult to control the overall thickness of the wax layer. This hollow wax copy of the original model is removed from the mould. The model-maker may reuse the mould to make multiple copies, limited only by the durability of the mould.

Dipping

A sprued wax copy is dipped into a slurry of silica, then into a sand-like stucco, or dry crystalline silica of a controlled grain size. The slurry and grit combination is called ceramic shell mould material, although it is not literally made of ceramic. This shell is allowed to dry, and the process is repeated until at least a half-inch coating covers the entire piece. The bigger the piece, the thicker the shell needs to be. Only the inside of the cup is not coated, and the cup’s flat top serves as the base upon which the piece stands during this process.The ceramic shell-coated piece is placed cup-down in a kiln, whose heat hardens the silica coatings into a shell, and the wax melts and runs out. The melted wax can be recovered and reused, although it is often simply burned up.

Melt

The shell is reheated to harden the patches and remove all traces of moisture, then placed cup-upwards into a tub filled with sand. Metal is melted in a crucible in a furnace, then poured carefully into the shell. The filled shells are then allowed to cool.

Finishing – Fettling

The shell is hammered or sand-blasted away, releasing the rough casting. The sprues, which are also faithfully recreated in metal, are cut off, the material to be reused in another melt. Just as the wax copies were chased, the casting is worked until the telltale signs of the casting process are removed, so that the casting now looks like the original model. Pits left by air bubbles in the casting and the stubs of the spruing are filed down and polished.

Finishing – Patina

After final polishing, corrosive materials may be applied to form a patina, a process that allows some control over the colour and finish. A wide range of chemicals, both household and commercial, can give a variety of patinas. They are often used by artists as surface embellishments either for color, texture, or both. Patination composition varies with the reacted elements and these will determine the color of the patina.

Installation

The final display, mounting and installation of a sculpture is a crucial aspect of our process. We give meticulous attention to the individual details of each object. This is done with an accute understanding of the composition and the material used. We install artworks with the aim to understand and create the perfect aestitic and a safe environment for the work of art.