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Sculpture & Brass / Bronze Techniques used by Miguel Moreno

Miguel Moreno has worked with many materials, including stone, marble, Monument to Agua - Detailas well as metals such as brass & bronze, as well as copper, aluminium, lead etc.

However, in recent years he has tended to concentrate on the cast / forged, then welded technique he has perfected and so much made into a style of his own, capturing in the works in Almuñécar the athleticism and physicality of the human form.

Miguel’s own web site contains a very good illustrated description by his son, Miguel Ángel Moreno Rodrigo, of the detailed techniques used, but a précis in English follows for the convenience of our clients.

Back to Sculptures - or Almuñécar pagesMonument to Phonecians - Detail

In summary, a series of scale models would be made, each refining the vision to be created. Moving to full size, a steel armature is created using typically 25mm steel bar, with angle iron reinforcements. This is arc welded together, then covered with a wire screen to create a support for a full size clay, with plaster reinforcements, which will be used as the former for the brass plates from which the sculpture will be created.

Each panel of the sculpture is then created in 4, 5 or 6mm brass plate, offered up to the clay continuously for checking. Brass (an alloy of copper & zinc) is used extensively over Bronze (an alloy of copper & tin) as it does not work harden as quickly (many “Bronze” statues are actually Brass, the typical dark green colours being created by post production patinisation which is treatment of the finished article with chemicals to create a coloured patina).Statue of Abderaman I looking to west

The finished steel and clay former is used both as a guide and a support for the brass plates as they are created. The initial outlines for each plate will be draughted on the clay, then transferred to paper templates. From the template the brass stock is marked out, then band sawn into segments each weighing some 20 kg. These are then cold forged on anvils to give them both the curves and texture required. A variety of techniques and tools will be used, from hard plastic hammers initially to create the initial shapes without hardening, to shaped hammers to stretch or contract the metal to form convex or concave curves.

During this working the pieces will work harden, at which point they liable to cracking. This is prevented by regular tempering with gas torches to restore the metal to a malleable state. As each plate is completed it is gas welded (oxyacetylene with a brass welding rod filler) to its neighbour, thus creating the instantly recognisable “patch work quilt” effect. Any deviation from the former will be corrected by local working using an anvil supported by hand, to ensure the growing work retains its desired form, with perhaps more detailed or further reaching revisions to the design being made at this time.

As the sculpture grows and start to become self supporting the clay & steel armature will be removed. Overhead cranes are used to assist the process, supporting and aligning elements of the work. Miguel’s son observes that this opens up the inside of the sculpture with “Vaults and chimneys surround(ing) us as a sculpture inside the sculpture”. This ability to see both the inside, as well as the exterior, of the works adds a dimension not normally encountered.

The final process is “Patinisation” which gives the finished article the recognisable greenish finish or “Patina”. The work is first thoroughly degreased with diluted sulphuric acid to remove residual clay and flux residues from the welding processes. The brass is then treated with potash derivatives to give a dark brown colour. These are then locally heat treated to react with the base copper alloy, to form a covering of cupric nitrate, which is the final greenish / blue colour.

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