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YanSan 06-01-2010 01:01 PM

Plaster sculptures outside?
i just registered for ArtPrize in Grand Rapids,MI and i am planning a piece that will be a man and a woman about half life size. i was originally thinking i'd cast it in plaster since i'm not sure if i could afford getting it cast in bronze(i still have to ask my local foundry). i'm not sure if i should be looking for only indoor venues or if i could pull off having it shown outside if it turns out i can't afford a bronze cast. i don't know if plaster could hold up outside or if there are ways to treat it so it would fair better outside?

Mack 06-01-2010 02:40 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
I imagine that there are sealers that could fortify plaster against the weather for a while, depending on how long it's going to be outside...but if bronze is out, what about casting it in an epoxy resin? More durable than plaster and it can be colored...depends on what kind of finish you're thinking about and also it's not very expensive..

evaldart 06-01-2010 03:58 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
Plaster is fragile, the outside is a brute, and then there are those roughnecks called the general public. Plaster aint gonna work outside.

Go indoors and you may be okay. Maybe.

Giotto 06-01-2010 06:03 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
I have read that the old plaster craftsman used plaster for exterior architecture details. They would soak them in linseed oil. I have some plaster column capitals in my yard. I sealed them with an epoxy paint and after 8 years they are still there (with some issues, I will replace them in a few years). If it's only for a few months and you use a very hard plaster and you seal it should be fine.

Here are a few links to get you started


GlennT 06-01-2010 09:17 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and probably a number of other such World's Fairs during that period, had architecture, architectural ornamentation, and sculpture made of "staff", which was plaster over lathe, cornhusks, and/or burlap. They lasted for the year or two or more for which they were intended.

In fact, the Fine Arts building from 1893 was converted using permanent materials into the Museum of Science and Industry. So, although in disrepair after 40 years, it hung on pretty long for plaster in a 4 season climate.

So, prepared well, as a temporary medium it should be everything but evaldart-proof.

YanSan 06-02-2010 02:05 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
wow, thanks for all the great responses! the competition is only about 3 weeks long, so i'd think it wouldn't be outside much longer than that.

at the moment i can't see myself casting any fine art stuff in resin. to me it gives the work a cheaper toy-like feeling. i could see myself using it if i were to cast anatomical/ education pieces that would be produced in a greater bulk, but i can't see myself using it in any other way.

i've thought about it and i really only see myself making works in a dark bronze or a white stone/ marble/ plaster. i don't entirely hate the idea of my work sort of falling apart slowly or decaying, but i imagine if someone wanted to buy one of my sculptures, they'd want it to last.

anyway, thanks for all the great responses!

Mack 06-02-2010 06:30 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
Agreed on the resin. If you get a good quality mold for your plaster cast, you can use that later for wax should you decide to go for the bronze. Good luck

GaryR52 06-02-2010 09:48 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
Another alternative to plaster, which is made for outdoor use and requires no casting is Forton MG:

rika 06-02-2010 10:15 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
Check out Winterstone, something I'd like to try myself for outdoor sculpture. It's good for indoors too. It really does look great.

Here are some figurative works made with Winterstone:

evaldart 06-03-2010 07:01 AM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
Yep, the more concrete/cement-based variations might well handle the outdoors. I've used the forton before and it IS very hard indeed.

YanSan 06-04-2010 01:35 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
those alternatives sound pretty good. i'll have to check them out. thanks!

fritchie 06-22-2010 03:56 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
Sorry for the late reply to "my" monitoring forum, but I've just gotten internet and telephone service today after about a three week absence. I agree with your desire to use only bronze as a permanent medium, but the various alternative suggestions above also should be good in the short run.

Scout 08-09-2010 06:18 AM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
All great information. I am casting in cold bronze. I agree that it looks plastic though. I am getting a good bronze and shiny look with steel wool but the beautiful shine disappears almost immediately. What kind of wax or finish will help hold the shine and bronze color. I'm using an 80/20 bronze to resin. Is a clear shoe wax good to use? I'm tempted just to cast in resin and paint it with a paint that contains bronze and is weather proof. These are life size children sculptures.
I tried casting in plaster but I could not handle the weight as I built up the plaster. It got all broken up in the mold.

vonfrese 11-27-2016 01:38 PM

Re: Plaster sculptures outside?
There are a number of monumental plaster pieces made by Camille under Rodin but I think most are indoors.

A less expensive way is to use auto body putty. This however also has weathering problems outside due to metal armatures and mold from moisture which effects all outdoor sculpture in one way or another.

Stone concrete seems to be best but the weight is also a problem since it can be lost if not properly installed with a footing.

Synthetic concrete is something which might be considered since there are acrylics in the composition of this material possibly making it lighter and more waterproof which may be why it can used for driveways and walls.

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