Nano Lopez: From Clay to Bronze

Like most artists, Nano Lopez begins the creation of a new work of art with the stroke of a pencil.

Lopez begins the intensive process of creating a sculpture by sketching it. From those drawings he makes a clay model that serves as the original.

Nano Lopez

Nano sculpting the head of “Davian” out of clay.

When the anatomy is to his liking, he adds organic and mechanical textures to the clay model as well as letters, gears or buttons. All details the artist wants on the final product must be on this model.

Creating a mold

Nano Lopez

Several coats of silicone are applied to create a mold. Seen here is Foxy.

The sculpture is coated with multiple layers of silicone, using air blow guns to ensure all details are covered. Once dry, the silicone-coated model is encased in a thick plaster or fiberglass mixture to hold the pliable silicone in place. This is known as the “mother mold.”

After the mother mold hardens it is opened and separated. The original model is removed from the silicone, and by closing the two halves of the silicone, a mold is formed to create an exact “negative” of the clay model.

Nano Lopez

The original clay mold (Foxy, in the above image) is removed from the silicone mold.

Melted wax is poured into the rubbery mold, thoroughly coating it so all the intricate details are captured. Once the wax has cooled, this wax “positive” is removed from the mold, and any imperfections in the wax are fixed. A wax gating system is then installed on the wax sculpture. These wax spruces provide channels that the molten bronze will travel through.

The ceramic shell

The gated wax sculpture is coated in liquid ceramic slurry, then immediately covered in sand to help the slurry breathe. These two steps are repeated until there is nearly half an inch of a hard, ceramic shell encasing the wax.

nano lopez

Wax leaving the ceramic shells in the kiln gives the “lost wax” sculpting technique its name.

The ceramic “cap” on the bottom is removed and the shell is placed in a kiln. The “lost wax” technique receives its name from this step due to the wax melting out of the shell.

Begin the bronzing

The melted bronze (about 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit) is then poured into the empty ceramic mold. Once it cools down, the ceramic shell is removed with pneumatic hammers and sandblasting. The metal chasing starts with large grinders to remove any large pieces of unwanted metal, such as the gates, then more refined tools are used to re-create the textures found on the original.

If the sculpture is made up of multiple pieces, they are welded together and the weld lines are smoothed over.

Coloring metal

For Lopez, coloration begins by heating the sculpture and spraying it with a chemical that turns it black. The sculpture is sanded, making the surface smooth and shiny while leaving black in recesses to accentuate the textures.

A gold dye is sprayed onto the sculpture. From there, patinas made of chemicals and pigments are applied with a brush and torch. By heating the bronze, the colors are essentially “cooked” onto the metal.

Nano Lopez

Patinas are cooked into the sculptures with a blowtorch. Seen here is Elma.

Finally, a few coats of lacquer are sprayed onto the sculpture to protect it from wear-and-tear and UV rays. If needed, felt is attached to the bottom of the sculpture.

As Lopez says, “That’s the end of the process.”

Interested in viewing the finished sculptures for yourself? Contact our gallery consultants for information on how to collect Nano Lopez art.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • Britto Painting Makes Cruise Ship Wedding an Event to Remember

    There are wedding day stories where everything goes wrong—it rains, the groom is late, the cake topples over. This is NOT one of those stories.Instead, this is a story about ...
    Read More
  • Alexandre Renoir Brings “Beauty” to His New Monthaven Arts Exhibition

    As the great-grandson of famed artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alexandre Renoir knows a thing or two about beauty.An accomplished artist in his own right, Alexandre is bringing his wealth ...
    Read More
  • Behind the Artist: Nano Lopez

    Few contemporary artists have made more of an impact on the word of sculpture than Nano Lopez.His instantly recognizable “Nanimal” sculptures are collected around the globe, and he continues ...
    Read More
  • Why The Art of Dominic Pangborn Never Stops Evolving

      “Born in Korea, refined ...
    Read More
  • 5 Artists Talk About Itzchak Tarkay’s Influence on Their Work

    Itzchak Tarkay is world famous for his alluring, captivating compositions, but, within the art community, Tarkay is perhaps best known for being a generous mentor to his fellow artists.Throughout ...
    Read More
  • Auctioneer Spotlight: Nilesh Gurung

    Many Park West collectors develop lasting friendships with our art teams, underscoring our 49-year reputation of connecting people from all walks of life with artwork they love.Here’s a chance to ...
    Read More
  • Foster Youth Named on List of 100 Female Trailblazers

    Alexis Lenderman was intrigued to hear that Ananke Magazine, a women-focused digital magazine, created a list of the top 100 women from around the world making positive changes.As the ...
    Read More
  • The Enigmatic Women of Itzchak Tarkay Come Alive in This New Spring Collection

    Few artists understand beauty in the way that Itzchak Tarkay did. A legend in the figurative art movement, Tarkay’s works are instantly recognizable.A spiritual cousin to Toulouse-Lautrec and Henri ...
    Read More
  • A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Daniel Wall’s Artistic Process

    In magic, spectators become disenchanted in learning the secrets behind the illusions. When it comes to art, however, Daniel Wall believes the opposite is true.By sharing photos of his ...
    Read More
  • Art Cruises: Vacations Designed with Art Lovers in Mind

    Set sail for an extraordinary art adventure.All art tells a story. But the real story is behind the art. When you bring home a painting or sculpture from one of ...
    Read More
  • How Marc Chagall Came to Illustrate One of the Greatest Love Stories of...

    Bob Dylan once said that “passion is a young man’s game,” but over 60 years ago, at the age of 55, famed artist Marc Chagall illustrated one of the ...
    Read More
  • Why We Love Buying Art on Cruise Ships: Confessions of an Art Enthusiast...

    After entering their first cruise ship art auction, this couple has never looked back.Don and Tina Tritton almost missed the boat. While their ship was docked in Ketchikan during a ...
    Read More