Cattaneo’s sculpture: artistic process

The artist impresses forms in soft clay (plasticine) on a plasticine surface (about 87×200 cm) that is approximately 15 cm high and then he finishes them with instruments to “raise” it, but he also uses his own fingers.

This work takes several days, because each section of “writing” by impression is not random: the artist is already harmonizing and preparing his morphological-formal design.

This is why the plasticine must be moistened constantly and covered with cellophane. As can clearly be noted in the above images, to make the design of the forms even more evident the artist uses talcum powder to emphasize the chiaroscuro of the volumes.

Once this “writing” has been completed it is time to transcribe it on wax and, using a sort of cauldron, the artist melts the wax and pours it gently over the clayey surface.

Then he tilts the work surface to get rid of the excess wax, running a brush dipped in wax over the entire surface to make sure it will take.

Once the wax has hardened, this layer with a positive of the formal design impressed in the plasticine is lifted. This is the verso of the wax layer.

In the next process, the wax surface is broken up and reassembled in a three-dimensional structure according to the artist’s needs. The different flat elements still made of wax are fused together using special instruments that are heated to a high temperature to melt the wax, thereby welding the parts together.

This is followed by the casting process. Once the wax sculpture is made, wax tubes are positioned on it based on specific calculations and technical skill. The tubes are used to pour in the bronze casting.

Photos © Archivio Piero Cattaneo