In January of 2016 while live on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, guest Shaquille O’Neal was surprised with a special announcement. Shaq learned he was to be honored with a statue at the Staples Center. The Lakers, alongside AEG and Staples Center, commissioned the larger-than-life statue to recognize his achievements and contributions to The Lakers and the NBA. The sculpture of Shaq will join a team of bronzed Lakers Legends.
Bronzed Lakers Legends (seen below)
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
The sculptors behind the Lakers Legends series and the Shaquille O’Neal statue, are Julie Rotblatt-Amrany and Omri Amrany. At The Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Highwood, Il, the dunking Shaq was designed to be art suspended in air. This larger-than-life Shaq, if standing would measure at 9’6″tall and was carefully sculpted out of clay. The final bronze statue will be installed on site at The Staples Center, offering fans a worm’s eye view.
From Clay to Mold to Bronze
Molds are the gateway between the clay sculpture and the bronze finished piece. Shaq’s mold captures the shape and the details of the clay sculpture for the purpose of casting a replica in a Bronze. The Shaq mold by Sculpture Resource was engineered to produce wax copies for investment casting into bronze, also know as The Lost Wax process. Once a mold is completed, it is then removed from the clay sculpture and reassembled in sections. With the mold free of the sculpture, a void remains imprinted with the details and form.
This mold will create wax casts of sections from the sculpture. For example, a section in wax could be a shoe/foot up to mid leg or a ring of waist and torso. The mold is divided strategically into cross sections to isolate certain areas as well as for control, manageability and handing of cast waxes. A completed mold is then handed over to a foundry, where they use the mold to create the final product. Alchemist Sculpture Foundry had the honor of casting the finished bronze statue. There are various techniques, styles, and variables that go into creating a mold- this following example is one of many.
The first half of the mold process consists of applying layers of rubber to the clay sculpture, to form a rubber liner. The walls perpendicular to the clay surface are split down the center, separating the rubber liner into two or more pieces. The second half of the process involves creating the Mother mold. Over the finished rubber liner, a plaster shell is shaped around each individual section. The shell is referred to as a Mother mold, this shell ensures that the form stays true to the original. The orange keys on the surface of the rubber liner will allow it to sit perfectly into the mother mold, thus producing an accurate wax cast.
In Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the Alchemist Sculpture Foundry, the work is ready to begin. Hot wax is brushed on to the interior surface to a predetermined thickness then allowed to cool in the mold. All of the details imprinted onto the rubber liner will transfer onto the surface of the wax. In this wax stage the statue is comprised of almost two dozen individual parts taken from the mold. The molds are then opened to remove the wax and will be reviewed to ensure quality. Once all of the waxes are completed and approved, the work of the mold has come to an end. The investment casting stage follows in the progression towards bronze. The mold may be stored in the artist’s mold library for future replicas. For more information on the investment casting stage, please visit our Casting page or visit Alchemist Sculpture Foundry for more details. Visit our Mold Making page for further explanations and in depth knowledge on what goes into the making of molds.
Shaquille O’Neal, statue unveiled on March 24, 2017 at The Staples Center in Los Angeles.