Soft wax sculpture
When Edgar Degas died a number of soft wax sculptures including 'Horse Walking' were found in his studio. Later they were cast into bronze. This lesson plan is inspired by the techniques that Degas used in his studio just over one hundred years ago. They still work today.
Find out how it was made and give your class the opportunity to work in exactly the same way as Degas by watching the videos and following the plan below.
Key Stage:KS 3&4 Art and Design
Overview:This lesson plan can be used:
To start a sculpture project.
To develop ideas and understanding of processes and materials.
As part of study of any artist using armature building, modelling or lost wax casting as part of their process.
As part of individual study
Suggested Classroom Activity -
'Horse Walking' by the famous Impressionist painter Edgar Degas was found in his studio, with a number of other sculptures, after his death. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has two bronze horses by Degas in it's collection.
Degas and soft wax modelling
Degas never exhibited his sculptures in his lifetime as he regarded sculpture in a similar way to drawing, as a way of exploring a subject. This sculpture was made from soft modelling wax on a wire armature and was later cast into bronze. In this video Tim Mathews from The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge describes how the sculpture was made.
There is a longer version of this film elsewhere on CultureStreet where a Year 9 group find out about the artist, the sculpture and how it was made and then tell us what they think.
Making a wire armature
Having discovered how Degas made his sculpture of a 'Horse Walking' you can use these two short videos to gain a greater understanding of the techniques and processes. Once you understand the process it is simple to have a go at making a small wax sculpture yourself.
This video is a short time-lapse film showing how to make a wire armature.
Modelling in soft wax
This short time-lapse video show the addition and modelling of the wax onto the armature to make a horse sculpture.
Now you can begin adding your soft modelling wax. Warm the wax with your hands using small pieces at a time and working around your sculpture.