In addition to exhibiting her work at The Loft Gallery in Occoquan, Gwen has shown at various galleries in Alexandria and in special shows at Tysons corner, at 2100 M Street, NW, and at the Aiken Art Center in Aiken, South Carolina. She has served on the Board of Directors of The Art League at the Torpedo Factory in various capacities since 1999, and had the honor of serving as President and Chairman of the Board in FY06. Also noteworthy, in October 2006, she received the 2006 Alex Award from the Alexandria Commission for the Arts for Excellence in Service to the Arts. Following her September Artist of the Month Show, she will be looking forward to her first out-of-state show in November and December of this year at the Aiken Art Center in Aiken, South Carolina.
As a sculptor, her greatest pleasure is to constantly rotate the piece in order to appreciate all its angles, and the varying effects of light and the formation of shadows as she is working. For years, her career was unrelated to art. Those years, while rewarding, now enhance the sense of ecstasy she achieves when pursuing art and when being creative. Lockhart sculpts in clay, plastilene or wax and captures both expression and likeness whether doing animals, heads/busts, or full figurative pieces. Many of her sculptures, including commission pieces, have been molded and cast in bronze. All of her bronzes are cast using the lost wax process, which requires three to four additional months.
About “Bronzes” and Casting in Bronze
When an artist creates a sculpture (whether in terra cotta, wax, plastiline, or another product) they have the option of making castings. Castings can be in bronze, plaster or fiberglass products, or resin. Although the “Lost Wax Process” for bronze casting is expensive (cost varies depending upon the size and complexity of the work) bronze castings are very desirable.
When an artist makes the decision to cast in bronze, they must immediately decide how many castings will be in the “edition”. I was told that 20-30 castings is relatively customary, although you will find artists in the high production arena casting a 100 or more. I briefly experimented with an edition of 30, but now limit my editions to eight, i.e., 1/8, 2/8, 3/8, etc.
Lastly, there are no identical bronzes when the artist uses the “Lost Wax Process”. As explained below, a new wax figure and a new investment mold is needed for each bronze poured. Because this wax figure, as well as the final bronze figure, must be cleaned and perfected, variations are unavoidable.
Summary of the Lost Wax Process
The lost wax process is the traditional method of bronze casting . It has been around for at least 5000 years, and is a complicated and difficult process:
- A sculpture is created out of clay, wax or plaster.
- A flexible rubber mold with a rigid “mother mold” is made of the sculpture.
- The sculpture is removed from this mold and it is cleaned out thoroughly.
- The mold is tied together and wax is poured inside.
- The mold is removed and the seams and any casting imperfections in the new wax product are cleaned up by the artist.
- Wax sprues and vents are attached to the sculpture so that the bronze can eventually be poured into the piece and gases can escape.
- The wax piece is “invested” by repeatedly dipping it in a mixture of plaster and grog forming the new “investment mold” around the wax.
- The investment mold is placed in a burn‑out oven to melt the wax out and dry the mold.
- Bronze, which is an alloy consisting mostly of copper with small amounts of zinc, tin and lead, is melted in a crucible to a temperature of approximately 2000 degrees and poured into the warmed investment mold.
- After cooling, the investment mold is broken off and the sprues and vents, which are now bronze, are removed.
- The piece is sandblasted to clean the surface of the bronze from scaling and acids and oils.
- A patina is applied to the surface. This is a chemical process that is etched into the surface of the bronze.
- The finished bronze is now lightly waxed to preserve its patina.