Collectable bronze sculptures by Elizabeth Lamarche
Getting to know Elizabeth Lamarche:
Can you tell us about your artistic background?
I moved to London’s Heatherly Art School in 2012, which enabled me to reconnect with my own style through experimentation with ceramics, watercolours and sculpture. In 2013, I headed North, to Scotland to work for renowned sculptor and glass engraver Bruce Walker, who was a key figure in my training as an artist. He taught me how to do glass engraving as well as stone carving, and during this period I spent a lot of time discussing art and ideas with him. Being showed me how to structure my days and what hard work meant – work tirelessly, often from the wee hours to past midnight! Bruce was an incredible mentor to me because he genuinely wanted to share his knowledge and wanted the best possible success for me.
From 2015 to 2017, I worked at the Galleria Romanelli under the talented Raffaello and Vincenzo Romanelli. This experience sculpting at the Galleria led me to discover my true passion! Raffa taught me the whole process of creating a sculpture – from seeing shapes to sculpting, making moulds to scrutinising the final bronze sculptures. Whilst Vincenzo was a wildlife and animal enthusiast, his techniques inspired me to focus on creating animal sculptures as his realisation process was unique and inspiring.
During your studies as a painter you are constantly observing the figure. Did this help you with the transition into sculpting or was it a new start in that sense?
Which artists making bronze sculptures are you inspired by the most?
Given that the process of making bronze sculptures is so involved I’m interested to know how long have you been sculpting and during this time, do you know how many you have completed?
I enjoy following your work online and see that you recently made a bronze sculpture that also doubles as a table. Could you tell us about this project, and is this new direction for your work?
Would you like to walk us through the process of creating your sculpted bronze Octopus?
All bronze sculptures share the same path of creation. After doing a number of sketches I spend a lot of time drawing different positions and researching about Octopuses and their anatomy. I wanted to know my subject before starting as I wanted the sculpture to give the impression of fluidity. My aim was to create a mature octopus coffee table. So I had to be very clear with the positioning of arms and body measurements.
I went to visit my neighbour and friend Henry, an awesome welder who taught me everything about welding. We began by cutting metal rods to size, to match my measurements for the arms. Afterwhich, we bent and twisted the rods to create the fluidity I was looking for. For me, the structure needs to be extremely precise so I spent a full week making sure it was perfect and able to hold the weight of the clay. This is the most important process to get right because you won’t be able to change it later on.
I then put a first layer of clay on the metal to create my ideal structure. Once I was satisfied with that, I began adding all the detail and expression. I designed four legs to be perfectly level in order to support a glass ‘coffee table’ top.
Upon finishing the piece, it was a race to the foundry in Edinburgh. We needed to capture the shape before the clay started cracking. It is very complex to make such a mold and the team at the foundry did an excellent job. It was like putting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together.
The mold was created by painting layers of liquid silicon onto the sculpture, then adding silicone rubber with a system of keys which allowed the mold to interlock with the separate parts.The mold was finished by building an external skeleton around the silicon, out of plaster which hardens and holds the mold in place.
Removing the Clay:
Once this had been created, the original sculpture in clay was no longer needed and was removed.
The next process was to pour hot wax evenly into the mold. The wax version was then taken out of the mold and retouched to remove all imperfections before the bronze casting.
After this process, the foundry encased the wax version in a hard shell. The shell was placed into an oven where the melted bronze is poured evenly melting away the wax version.
Unveiling the bronze sculpture:
Once the piece cooled down, using mallets and chisels the hard shell was removed and the sculpture revealed.
The bronze sculpture was then sandblasted and assembled together through welding and other refining processes. Then it was time to start creating the patina, using chemicals and pigments with a wax finishing.
Watching the foundry professionals at work is like watching the creation of art in its own right. To acknowledge the effort required to produce my Octopus I made only a limited edition of 9 bronzes. Each edition is cast upon request and I only keep 1 in stock for exhibitions.
Finally a big thank you for sharing your experiences and beautiful bronze sculptures with us! If people would like to see and collect your work where is the best place to go?