A Look at Different Materials Used in Sculpture
Sculptures are a form of art and exhibit the sculptor’s creativity and artistic values. Sculptures can be made from stone, wood, plastic or even metal. Usually the sculptor uses materials that are durable and permanent. Sculptures are created through carving, assembling, firing, molding or even welding together different materials.
In history, many sculptors used extremely durable and expensive materials such as bronze, silver, gold, ivory, stones like marble, limestone and granite. On rare occasions, precious stones were also used like jade. Less expensive material included different varieties of wood, terra cotta and other ceramics. Cast metals such as zinc and pewter were also used.
There is no right or wrong materials to use in making sculptures. Nowadays sculptors are innovative in their choice of materials. There are some who make their piece using junk, glass, wax, acrylics or even machine parts. There’s no rule that says you can’t mix and match different materials. In most cases using different materials adds texture and color to the sculpture, making it more interesting.
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Sculpture in Asia
In Asia there are many religious sculptures inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism. Cambodia also has a fair amount of sculptures preserved in Angkor. In Thailand most sculptures that can be seen are those of Buddha images. In these countries the use of gold and bronze are very common since the sculptures are worshiped by thousands of followers.
China has a collection of sculptures from different periods in their history. During the Western Zhou Dynasty dating back 1050-771 BC, there were a variety of bronze vessels. During the Han Dynasty, there was the Terracotta Army, sculptures of soldiers made from terra cotta and clay. In the period of the Tang Dynasty, more decorative sculptures started appearing made from bronze, wood and clay.
African Wood Carving
Sculpture in Africa
African art is also centered on sculptures. Three dimensional sculptures are preferred to two dimensional ones. Each region has a unique technique in which they make their sculptures. The materials they use include bone, wood, ivory, stone, clay and metal. Africans also go into much detail with their sculptures and have carved wooden pieces.
Sculpture Techniques for Different Materials
In assembling a sculpture, many techniques are used depending on the medium. There is stone carving which was popular during ancient times. This was done by shaping the stone and adding texture by chipping off stones particles. Carving is also widely used for sculptures made from wood. By using a cutting tool, carving adds detail to a sculpture.
There’s also casting which is a manufacturing process wherein liquids are poured into a mold, forming the desired shape. Once the mold is solid, the casting is broken out and attached to other pieces to form the sculpture. Casting is commonly used for pieces that have irregular shapes.
Welding is also a technique used for metal sculptures. Metal is a lot easier to work with since you can easily shape metal into any form. Putting metal pieces together is easily done by welding.
Though not common, paint can also be used for sculptures to add more color or varnish for wooden sculptures.