On November 8, Miami University welcomed its newest sculptural installation onto the grounds. Located in the new garden in the Schiewetz Arts Plaza, Heart in Hand by Ursula von Rydingsvard is a bronze sculpture that stands over 10 feet
tall. Commissioned and donated by Miami Alumnus Thomas W. Smith ’50, Heart in Hand provides a provocative conversation starter for students on their way to class. From the outside, the sculpture looks as though it is made of natural materials like wood or stone. After closer examination, it is apparent the work is incredibly solid.
In creating this work, von Rydingsvard used the Lost Wax Process. This process, both tedious and time consuming, is composed of many steps that create a unique and beautiful final piece. The artist begins by making a wooden sculpture of the piece they are wanting to cast. From there, a mold is made of the sculpture, usually out of latex or silicon. The wood model is then removed from the mold, leaving a perfect impression to be coated with multiple layers wax. The wax is left the harden and is then “chased” where the artist uses a heated tool to smooth out any imperfections in the wax and to eliminate seam lines from the mold itself. The wax
mold is then coated in various slurries and plasters, creating an airtight and strong outer shell. The amount of coating varies based on the size of the mold. Once the outer shell is set, the mold is cooked upside down in a kiln, allowing the wax to melt away and leave a perfect replica of the sculpture in plaster. The mold is then filled with liquid bronze and left to solidify. The plaster is then broken off, revealing the finished product! Here is a video of this process.