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Durable and versatile, bronze is the go-to choice for a broad range of statuary from wall-mounted reliefs to freestanding life-size portrayals. Using a sketch as a guide, artists carve original sculptures out of wax or clay. Then a flexible mold is made from this original, capturing all the details of the artist’s work. The mold is used for form a wax figure which is then coated with a liquid refractory ceramic. After several coats are applied, a stable mold emerges which is then cured for several days. The piece, now coated in a ceramic shell, is fired in a kiln which bakes the shell and eliminates the wax, leaving a cavity in its place (thus the term “lost wax.”). The ceramic shell is removed from the kiln and molten bronze is immediately poured into the form. After cooling, the statue is sanded, polished and treated with chemicals to produce the desired color. Sealed with a wax coating, the patina becomes a permanent part of the sculpture.

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Created in much the same way for centuries, today marble statuary is still shaped using traditional instruments such as a hammer, mallet, and chisel. The hammer exposes the rough shape of the statue, the chisel and mallet refine that shape, abrasive stones and sand paper smooth the contours. Finally, tin oxide is used to create the high-luster polish associated with fine marble statuary.

As marble ages, it becomes more durable although not as much as its bronze counterparts. Best kept indoors and away from acidic outdoor rain, marble is also susceptible to staining from environmental elements such as skin oils or other liquids.

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Whether left in its original form, stained, gold-leafed or painted, sculpted wood brings a warm, historical character to any environment. King Richard’s artisans use the techniques and tools of generations past to continue to bring this timeless choice of material to parishes today. Best suited for indoor installations, with proper surface preparation, wood can also be a pleasing selection for most any outdoor setting.

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In comparison to its counterparts, fiberglass is the comparatively new kid on the block. Due to its ability to withstand the extremes of most climates, it has become a popular choice for outdoor installations. Versatile and hearty, finished fiberglass can be treated with bronze, silver, marble or an aluminum finish. Statuary intended for indoor locations can also be treated with paints to create a more traditional finish.