FAQ Bronze

Legends of the Americas by Sunti Pichetchaiyakul

How are each of these sculptures a “one of a kind,” rather than a limited edition?

While my Legends of the Americas collection is devoted to commemorating the heroic individuals of the American Continent, I feel very strongly against mass producing my sculptures. I also feel that collectors should have something that is unique and personal, allowing purchasers to participate in customizing their piece. Please visit our Artist Rendering and Customization link for more information.

Are the faces of your sculptures actually bronze?
How are they made?

All of my Legends sculptures are 100% solid bronze, which I sculpted from scratch. I have seen many sculptures that were created by applying molds to a live model’s hands, face, clothing, and accessories. Being a purist, I believe that sculptures should be sculpted.

What is the process in creating bronze sculptures?

For a description of the sculpture’s creation and casting process, please visit our Studio page.

How do you make bronze look like skin?

Legends of the Americas by Sunti Pichetchaiyakul

This is done very meticulously when my sculpture is in wax. I have developed my sculpting techniques through the years, being careful not to make any lines in the face too deep, regardless of how deep they may appear to be in the model’s face. All sculpting strokes must be subtle, as bronze, being dark in color, will end up appearing rigid and artificial. This is a major difference between sculptures that look like sculptures and sculptures that look alive.

I have studied the texture of skin for decades and understand that skin has intricate layers and patterns that cannot be replicated imprecisely or with wire-loop sculpting tools. The texture and pattern of the lips is different from the texture and pattern of the cheeks, which is different from the texture and pattern of the nose, and so on. However, while the lines of the skin must be subtle, the outline of the lips, jowls, eyelids, irises, eyebrows, ears, and lines of the hair must be slightly exaggerated, so as to work with the highlights and shadows that bring realism to bronze. These lines, however, must be exaggerated in proportion with the features of the model. In addition, in order to make a sculpture of a woman look as though it is wearing makeup (as most female models would prefer), the eyelids, eyelashes, eyebrows, and lips must also be slightly overstated.

How do you create the highlights of the eyes?

I have been studying the human eye for over 20 years. Many people ask me if I add a nail to the eye or fabricated bronze to the sculpture after it’s been cast. The “highlights” of the eyes are all sculpted in wax and included in the mold. When chasing my lost waxes (ARCs) I have to re-sculpt the eyes each time and fine tune the “highlights.”

What other aspects make your sculptures look real?

Legends of the Americas by Sunti Pichetchaiyakul

Apart from paying attention to detail, it is important to avoid shortcuts and to always work from the inside out. For example, if I am sculpting a necklace, it is important that I sculpt the neck before adding the necklace, rather than just sculpting the necklace into the neck, which is typically done to save time. This is due to the fact that the texture of the skin would be inconsistent in the neck area, causing the realism to drop significantly, regardless of whether or not the viewer can point out the inaccuracies around the neck. I always make sure to sculpt the underlying layers to perfection, even if the viewer will not even see these layers. Sculpt the ear before adding the hair, sculpt the hair before adding the headdress, sculpt the neck before adding the shirt collar, sculpt the clothing before adding accessories, and so on. I take the time to sculpt as though I were adding clothes and accessories to a real person. This is a significant factor in increasing realism.

How and why do you bring color to your bronzes?

Legends of the Americas by Sunti Pichetchaiyakul

In Thailand, I always created my surrealistic or impressionistic bronzes as one color – black, gold, emerald green, etc. Yet, since beginning my realistic bronze work in America, I have been experimenting with my patinas, integrating the same technique I use when hand-painting my fiberglass resin sculptures. The best way to complement the realistic sculpting is to add realistic color, without cheapening the classic medium of bronze.

I’ve noticed a very distinct contrast between the colorful and extravagant patinas on surrealistic sculptures in Asia to the very dull and muted patinas on impressionistic bronzes in Europe and North America. While bright colors continue to have symbolic significance in Asia, it seems as though many bronzes in the West are mimicked after the bronze artists who, hundreds of years ago, had no access to color. Dark patinas are also very simple to apply. Thus, adding color to bronze in a way that compliments the medium is not only very challenging, but also quite “cutting-edge,” as many visitors in my gallery have expressed.

When I apply my patinas, using the classic techniques of patina chemicals and a torch (not acrylic paint), I aim to create a very natural look that appears opaque in the dark, yet lively and colorful in the light. As these sculptures age, the patina will fade into a soft, classic bronze color.

If you choose a classic brown patina, how do you sculpt in a way that makes a bronze look like it has color?

As bronze is all about using highlights and shadows, sculptors must first understand the art of drawing in black and white before expecting much success as a 3D artist. The repetition of drawing portraits has helped me understand the foundation and detail of a face, as well as differences from one face to another. Understanding how thick or how dark I should make the graphite lines based on the model’s real color has helped me recognize how to make my sculptures appear to have color.

The deeper a sculptor makes his lines, the darker the color will appear in bronze. Thus, when sculpting people with dark hair and eyebrows, there should be more lines and deeper lines, than that of someone with light hair. This is also the case for the eyes. Black eyes should be sculpted the deepest, while blue eyes should be sculpted a bit more shallow. While a person’s upper lip is usually darker than his/her lower lip, sculptors must know to accent the upper lip with a deeper line than that of the bottom lip. I have learned to visualize people as one color, which is helpful when working with wax, as the adding and subtracting process using different heats causes discoloration in my wax sculptures.

What are the challenges of working from a photograph?

Please visit our FAQ Fiberglass Resin link.

If you hire a bronze foundry, why do so much of the work yourself?

Artists are their own worst critics. Being a perfectionist, I expect every step of my work to be finished to my expectation. If I leave the work to someone else, I find myself unsatisfied with the finished product, or that some of the detail I sculpted was actually lost in the process. I have used multiple foundries and have had similar outcomes, simply because I am so meticulous. For this reason, I create my own molds, chase and assemble the waxes, assist in chasing the bronze, direct the welding, and apply my own patinas using patina chemicals and a torch.

What is the future of your Legends of the Americas Collection?

The purpose of the collection is to commemorate heroic figures of the American Continent so that viewers may “Relive the Legend” and remember their stories and teachings. The collection began with Native American leaders and will not only include explorers & pioneers, but also prominent figures of the western frontier, freedom fighters, masterminds, and more. I intend to eventually begin a Legends of the World Collection, beginning with Jesus of Nazareth as well as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. In commemorating these honorable and heroic individuals, I also donate a percentage of sales to non-profit organizations that correspond with the creed and intention of that individual.