A disassembled human skeleton claims a series of shelves inside Mesplé's shop at Big Art Labs in Los Angeles, CA. Next to it lay animal horns and small molds holding single bronze vertebrae waiting to be welded into life-size works of art.
The artist's approach to his bone sculptures comes from a unique point of view, one in which he carefully perceives the final figure well before its creation. Once the figure is determined, Mesplé uses an adapted 3,000 year old lost wax method to create each of the bones.
In this process Mesplé must make a multi part mold of the bone or series of bones. The mold consists of a soft flexible rubber layer, an exact negative of the original object, and a thick outer layer of fiberglass or plaster. Once the reinforcement layer is cured, the internal form can be freed and the mold will fit back together for its next phase.
The mold is then internally coated with wax, producing a hollow wax form of the original bone(s). This phase allows Mesplé to check the bone for accuracy and chase away any unwanted lumps or lines in the wax.
A zircon based slurry mixture is built up in many layers around the new wax form for use in casting. The wax is melted away to create a hollow cavity. Molten bronze is poured into each shell and set to cool.
The ceramic shell is broken off to reveal the metal bone needed for the sculpture. To ensure the flow of molten metal throughout the mold, sprues were created to direct the liquid. The straw like, bronze appendages are cut away and filed before the bones are ready for metal chasing.
The artist carefully asses each bone or series of bones for air bubbles, lumps and lines from the ceramic shell. He is able to grind or manually smooth away any imperfections before assembling the sculpture. In addition to the metal chasing, Mesplé uses TIG welding to add any metal or alter the bone with greater artistic control before reassembling the skeleton.
An eye for accuracy, Mesplé welds the bones into a familiar yet characterized form. His welding technique is well seasoned, constantly evolving and has been commissioned for work on special weaponry for the U.S. military.
The completed skeleton figure is not all that it takes to create the final sculpture. Mesplé combines his library of foundry skills and often uses other materials to complete his vision. Blacksmithed steel is used in works like Larker and Dominion, a process to be featured next at mesple.com.
Photography by Jeremy Deputat.