Cold cast or bonded powdered marble statues are a fascinating alternative to the hand carved marble block stone sculpture of yesteryear.
As we move away from costly traditional stone sculpture it’s important to understand just what goes on into making an Artisan cold cast statue.
Making statues in powdered marble has been our métier for nearly 30 years ideally placing us to answer your questions.
|1. Is it really sculpture if it’s reconstituted?
2. What is bonded marble?
3. How do you make statues in powdered marble?
4. Is it as good as “real”marble?
So that you appreciate the care that goes into the creations from Marble Art’s workshops this blog is going to explain some of the steps we take to produce statues and we are going to show you short a video of our atelier.
Is it really sculpture?
We believe that what we make are sculptures.
Even before painting cave walls, early humans fashioned shapes from stone. If you take the purest definition from the Larousse dictionary: Sculpture - an artistic form in which hard or other materials are worked into three- dimensional art objects. Then our production is absolutely sculpture.
We begin with a model which we sculpt from a polymer clay and then make our own silicone moulds around the form that we have sculpted. So sculpture is a big part of our production process.
It’s one of the most time consuming but relaxing parts of our work. Between the initial sculpture and the final proforma we can pass many, many hours depending on the intricacy and also the required finish of the piece. It’s a surprise to many clients that often a smooth statue will take longer than a highly decorated piece.
Much time is spent refining the surface under magnification. The smallest fault in a proforma or 1st sculpture can result in a mould with defects and wasted expensive silicone.
What is bonded marble?
Cold cast or bonded marble, which can also be called reconstituted, synthetic or artificial marble is a mixture of marble dust, generally the residue of quarrying, and a bonding agent. Resins, or other polymers or glues are most often used to form the mix.
In our workshop powdered marble is mixed with a 2 part bonding material at a minimum ratio of 85-90% marble powder before being put into moulds.
We use white marble from Carrera in Italy.
Yes it’s been said many times, but the best white marble in the world comes from that famous quarry where the marble block for Michelangelo’s David was hewn. We use the same marble but in powder, chips and small stones.
We also use the lovely bitter green, black and grey marble from the St Béat quarry in the French Pyrénées, only a 3 hour drive from our workshop in the middle of the countryside.
Others may add colourants or metals into their marble mix, we add nothing more than marble. Any defaults in colour are entirely natural. What we love best is the change in variation of grain and colour. If you know how to look you can even see colour variation in the Carrera white marble, sometimes little crystals of clear quartz are blinking back at you.
How do you make statues in powdered marble?
Well there are probably as many methods as there are makers. Everyone will have their own recipe.
I know that’s not what you want to hear if you are reading this blog to find out how to cast in powdered marble, but it’s absolutely true.
We make them in our own way.
As I stated before, we begin with our own base sculpture, we create a silicone mould around that and mix the powdered marble with the bond. Where we probably differ from many other artisans is that, and here we will reveal to you one of the secrets in our production process, is that we bake our pieces. This helps the glue to set better and increases the longevity of the piece.
We then drill out the seam lines and bring the piece to a fine finish with sanding paper of various grades, before polishing with either water or wax. A final shine is added with a cotton buffer on a lathe.
All in all it is a lengthy process but a rewarding one leaving us with a piece that looks and feels like solid cut stone but actually much stronger.
Is it as good as “real “marble?
Well for a start I would argue with the term real marble which is why it is in inverted commas. We use real marble in the form of powder, dust, grains and make it come alive.
The high percentage of marble in our products is certainly very real. We are able to create very real sculptures that vary in size and style, from a 25 kilo classical buste to miniature cat of less than 2cms and pretty much everything collectable in-between.
It is stronger than solid stone and has no fissures, so avoiding splits and breaks along fault lines.
We have covered caring for reconstituted marble in a previous blog which you can read here How do I care for cold cast marble statues? – Tips and Tricks.
However in answer to a few basic questions.
Can your statue go in the outside in the garden? Yes absolutely no problem. If you want to see more about how they look after time do check out the aforementioned care blog.
How can I care for this cold cast marble statue? Treat it like a marble statue, dust it, wash it keep it clean.
How do I clean or polish this statue? A soft cloth and a circular buffing motion will be fine, honestly. Don’t over stress it, although there are a couple of other pointers on our other blog.
Casting with powdered marble - a video.
Now the video you are going to see here came about after we received an invitation from a television company to be included in a regional programme. France3 gave us permission to use the video as long as their logo and that of the programme Midi en France stay in place.
The video here is an edited version of the original 7 minute one just to give you the basic outline of what we do. As it was for French television yes, it is in French but with handy English subtitles provided by No. 1 son.
Feel free to contact us for more information. Check the Marble Art Facebook page for where we will be on Artisan expositions and markets. Of course you can always buy direct via the website www.marbleart.fr