Northern Rivers artist Rudy Stavar working on one of his creations.
Northern Rivers artist Rudy Stavar working on one of his creations.

Intricate sculptures created with ancient technique

LOCAL artist Rudy Stavar is opening an exhibition of his latest work today.

The Space in Between includes his latest bronze sculpting work using an ancient technique called 'the lost wax method'.

Lost-wax casting is the process by which a duplicate metal sculpture (often silver, gold, brass or bronze) is cast from an original sculpture.

Dependent on the sculptor's skills, intricate works can be achieved by this method.

The oldest known examples of this technique are the objects discovered in the Cave of the Treasure (Nahal Mishmar) hoard in southern Israel, and which belong to the Chalcolithic period (4500-3500 BC).

Conservative Carbon 14 estimates date the items to 3700 BC, making them more than 5700 years old.



We had a chat to Mr Stavar ahead of the show opening.

What is the ancient lost wax method?

The lost wax process involves making a heat resistant mould around a wax pattern, melting the wax out and then casting metal in the space that's left behind.

Each piece I create is a one off original.

Why did you decide to use it?

Because basically that was what I was trained in, and is still the same method used today in precision casting.

The pieces look very intricate. How long does it take you to finish a small piece?

That's a big question.

From creating the design, I then engineer a wax pattern, which is a replica of the bronze to be made.

I then have to construct a 'heat resistant' investment mold, which after drying sits in a kiln for what can be a few days after which it and removed ready for the metal.

The metal is heated quickly and loudly in a furnace then poured into the heated and cleaned mold.

Are you originally from the Northern Rivers?

No I'm not. I originally arrived in the Northern Rivers in 1990.

I was making jewellery and working the markets and could see from the jewellery I was making it would lend itself to larger sculpture.

My trade as a dental technician taught me to cast small surgical castings. But I needed help with bigger pieces; from asking around I made contact with Jorn Kramer, a bronze sculptor from Alstonville.

He showed me the tricks of the trade and I then I went off and set up my first bronze 'lost wax' foundry in the Corndale Butter Factory, which is where I am having my show.

I then won a commission from the Tweed Heads Council to do a four-meter bronze sculpture for the Main Street redevelopment. This lead to a few jobs in Brisbane, meeting my partner, Lynette and some time after heading off for nine years cruising and exploring the Top End.

We ended up living on Hamilton Island where our friends CJ and Pat, who own the Butter Factory, came to visit. I was eager to do some more sculpture and after their return they called to offer me some work space - bronze and sailing doesn't mix too well- so I jumped at the offer.

I have now been back in the Northern Rivers for just over two years and I have built a bronze foundry and created a body of work which I hope will be appreciated coming from years of adventuring in nature.

  • At the Corndale Butter Factory, 805 Corndale Rd, Corndale, 10am to 4pm from today.

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