Sculpting and Casting the WW1 Sikh Memorial

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The hour-long drive to Basingstoke had me thinking all sorts of thoughts about the creation of the WW1 Sikh Memorial – we are currently putting together the launch event and my attention has also been drawn to the souvenir publication “The Sikh Chronicles.”   So the drive was a chance to think and reflect.

It has been been 6 months since we successfully raised funds for the memorial, and in that time there has been lots of attention and response (extremely positive) to what we are doing.

If there was any doubt in my mind as to the importance of creating a national monument for Sikhs who served in the Great War, it was dispelled as I drove into the business estate to visit Sculptor Castings – the fine art foundry where the Sikh Subedar is being created.IMG_5840IMG_5832IMG_5841

What struck me as I walked in was a life-size bronze stature of a majestic horse – I was not only in the right place butclearly surrounded by people who knew what they were doing.

I met the team who are working on the Subedar, they are a fantastic bunch of guys who acknowledge completely the epic scale and expectation this one memorial has.

Simon and Adam took me through the sculpting and casting process (the video I hope to share with you soon) and I was amazed by their professionalism – and just how intricate the process of making the memorial is.

First, the model bust created by Mark Bibby was given to the moulder who made a jesmonite solid case of the figure with silicon rubber (above).  The mould picked up all the details of the medals, beards etc and any texture put in.  IMG_5831IMG_5828 IMG_5829

The solid case comes in two parts.  Into this goes a very hot swill of wax which picks up all the detail to ensure the replication of the mould.  With both halves done the mould is put together creating a cast with a thickness of around 4 or 5mm (right).

The seam line of the mould is taken with much patience, and then the object has wax tubes inserted for the bronzing process.

The wax object is encased in the solid shell which goes into a very hot box which melts all the wax away.   The ceramic shell is then put into the furnace – where bronze is cast at 1100 degrees.  The molton metel is poured into the ceramic shell, once cooled it leaves a solid bronze casting once the ceramic is smashed off.

The metal workers then take over, who use a variety of grinders, air tools and files to put the surface details back into the metal work.

Then the final stage is the patination process, the colouring of the bronze – using a flame torch the surface of the metal is heated forming a chemical process.  Then finished with polishing to a high shine.

All this work entails hard graft and dedication – certainly the team at Sculpture Casting have this in abundance!  They’re doing a fantastic job of putting the Subedar together – they deserve not just our thanks but the blessings of this momentous task.


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