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H o w  t h e y  a r e  m a d e

There are 2 distinct phases in the production of the AutCouture Art pieces – The master and the subsequent castings;

1. The Master

I begin with an idea of the particular car that I wish to portray in my own stylized form. The subjects chosen are from the swooping, curvy, art deco automobiles of the 1930 – 1950 era as these are what appeals to me and suit my style of sculpture.

I begin with a sketch that exaggerates the lines and features that I would like to capture so that I capture what I believe to be the essential character of the subject. I exaggerate those parts that are to me the essence of the machine and then I am ready to begin the shaping pf the piece.

I start by taking a block of high-density Polyurethane foam, which I mark out in 3-dimensions and carve to the shape that I am looking for. Once shaped, the piece is covered with a plaster mix, which is worked and smoothed until I get the final shape. Then I spray an automotive filler-primer onto the surface, ending with the smooth, even finish that I am looking for. I then make a mould box onto which this initial master is mounted, so that I can take a mould off it for a master that I can work to produce the final product. This is necessary, as the initial master is very fragile and not suitable for the production of the final. So, I make a Silicone Rubber mould of this from which I can cast my final master. That is the body part.

Next, the wheels, grille, lights and front bumper are all made up using ModelBoard, a rigid Polyurethane material used by pattern makers. I turn the wheels and lights out of this material on a wood lathe. All are sprayed and sanded until the desired finish is achieved.

2. Casting

This should be an easy process, but it, like so many things is not as easy as it seems. First off, moulds of the master and all its components (Wheels, bumper, lights and grille) are made out of Silicone Rubber (RTV) and this is allowed to cure. Once the mould is ready the casting material is prepared. First, an extremely fine Aluminium and Bronze powder mix is readied while the two components of the Polyurethane liquid are weighed out ready for blending. The powder is added to one of the liquid components and this is then quickly mixed into the second liquid component and poured into the mould. With luck, it sets and comes out perfectly after curing. Often times though, it does not cure properly, or develops bubbles and the piece cannot be used. The moulds have a very limited life as well, so this all adds to the costs.

3. Finishing

Once all the pieces have been cast and removed from their moulds, the components are sanded and polished. Those bodies that are to remain in Aluminium/Bronze are polished, while those that are to be painted are prepared by sanding, followed by an undercoat/primer and then 3 colour topcoats. All the components are then assembled to the main body of the piece. All that then remains is for the piece to be signed and numbered and its specific name attached to it. It is then placed in its individual box, together with a Certificate of Authenticity, notes and a picture of the actual subject, as well as on the artist plus instructions for cleaning.

John Wessels
February 2006
 

 
 
 
 

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