Sculptor in wax

editorial & artculture & photo…

20 December 2011


Based on a sketch received from the Design department or sometimes from a gemstone and a few indications, the sculptor - a jeweller by training - shapes an object in modelling clay and then fashions a wax prototype. This extremely malleable material serves to obtain a certain volume and provides a short-cut to stamping technologies. It also affords the possibility of making corrections and of thinning down layers.


The sculptor or prototype maker fulfils his craft with meticulous care alongside traditional jewellers and uses the same tools as his colleagues: gravers, cutters, files, tweezers, soldering iron.... He bases his work on assorted documents, sketches and photos to create an object as realistic as possible. Modelling a piece may sometimes take an entire week.


"Although my work is always based on certain guidelines, I am given a fairly free rein. I am not really under any pressure and my creativity can thus be expressed to the full," explains Anthony, a wax sculptor in the Chopard Haute Joaillerie department. The young man began as a jewellery model-maker, but his passion for sculpting in wax (next to his talent) was revealed on the occasion of the company's 150th anniversary in 2010. "When I was preparing my jewellery craftsmanship certificate", says Anthony, "one of my teachers, who was from the Ecole Boulle in Paris, gave me a taste for sculpting in wax. Ever since I have been basically self-taught". The first animal Anthony had to create for Chopard was a marmot. The result was a vibrantly lifelike chubby-cheeked miniature creature that aroused great enthusiasm and confirmed the Creation department's wish to offer increasingly finely fashioned models featuring sophisticated volume effects.


All the wax prototypes are approved by Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele, Chopard Co-President, and by the Head of the Haute Joaillerie Creation department, before being plaster-moulded and cast. The sculpting in wax stage is fundamental, because the model then serves as a basis for the final production of the piece. No flaws are tolerated. Once the shape has been cast in gold, the sculptor "cleans" it and removes the metal. He fine-tunes and chases the piece by applying various degrees of pressure in order to reveal tiny details that could not be sculpted in the overly fragile wax. After this last grooming, the model is ready for the subsequent creative stages.