The Beginnings of Bronze Sculpting

Bronze statue of Perseus holding head of Medusa

Made of 90 percent copper and 10 percent tin, bronze is stronger than pure copper and stays liquid longer when filling a mold. Prevalent throughout the Mediterranean basin, copper was mined on the island of Cyprus by ancient Greeks and Romans. Ancient cultures including Greece, Rome, Egypt and China all created sculptures of bronze using the lost-wax technique that is still used today.
Able to capture the precise details of the original clay model, lost-wax casting is a detailed process that begins with the making of a mold around the original clay piece. The final step is the patinazation of the bronze, which gives the sculpture its particular coloring. Patinization is now done using nitrates and takes only a few hours. In Ancient Asian cultures, bronze pieces were buried – sometimes for years – to speed up the process of oxidization and create patinas.
While the bronze sculpting process was first perfected in Ancient Greece, this knowledge was lost for many years, brought back during the Renaissance. While adaptations to tools and materials have been made, the process used to create a bronze sculpture is still much the same as it was in ancient times. While not many bronze artifacts have been uncovered, the pieces that have been found give us a glimpse into the lives of those who lived thousands of years ago. Created in the likeness of Gods, deities, leaders and scenes of nature; bronze sculptures added beauty to the world around them.
To learn more about bronze work and to view my pieces, visit Bronze Montana. From equine scenes to those of the rodeo, my work embodies life in the west.

Back from the Rodeo, MO Club

Back from displaying my work for the 15th year in Pendleton, OR. another artist and I set up in the lobby of the Red Lion, showing our bronzes and sculpting new pieces where people can watch and ask us questions. We were able to meet with old friends, go to some wonderful dinners, and even watch the rodeo to get more material for future bronzes.

Pendleton Rodeo grounds

When coming back from dinner, I found that we had had a visit from a student from one of the sculpting schools, held in Bozeman, MT. You never knew what you would find when returning to your work, and I had to laugh at my roping horse. Seems I had a little help. Sculpting should be fun, and this reminds you that it is only clay, which should be moved around a lot and often, to refine the details you are looking for. However, the nose ring and horn will have to go!

Who's been playing with my clay? Someone who had been to the sculpting school!

Who’s been playing with my clay?
Someone who had been to the sculpting school!

I had one of my new pieces accepted into the Mountain Oyster Club Art Show in Tucson, Arizona. 500 artists submitted 1500 pieces of work! I would hate to have been a juror! My little Chicken will be going to her first show, opening reception, November 23, 2015.

Fat and Sassy

Fat and Sassy

New Adventures, Learning Curves

Good Morning people.

I am trying my hand at blogging; letting you get an insider view of how I get inspired, create an armature, sculpt and finish a bronze. At my shows, many people ask how it goes from being clay, to a bronze sculpture. I hope to explain that process here, and answer some of your questions. I will update once a week, hopefully, and as I learn, post pictures of my new pieces.

I just returned from showing my work at the Pendelton Round-Up in Pendleton, OR. A fantastic adventure that gives me a lot of material for my Western and Rodeo bronzes. I show with fellow artist Bob Burkhart, another sculptor, who also owns the foundry I help at. I have been going there for 16 years now, and meet with new and previous buyers that are now dear friends. I leave Montana in the last days of summer, and return to my home with fall, turning leaves, and the crisp air of Autumn.

fall trees and stream to paint

My Story

Mary Michael and her Sacajawea sculpture

From a young age, I have always enjoyed creating art, but it wasn’t until a 3D sculpting class that I found my preferred medium. It was here that I met a friend who encouraged me to continue sculpting, and Bronze Montana began. We have been working together to produce my bronze sculptures since 1998.


Over the years, I have worked with a variety of talented individuals, forming friendships and bonds that have helped me to grow as an artist. The learning experience never ends and each spring I attend (and now help to teach) a sculpting class that provides an insight into the minds of other artists and a chance for me to improve my own work.


People often asked me what the most important part of learning to sculpt is and the best advice I can give is to study up on your anatomy. Find as many books and pictures as you can and make it your job to understand how the body naturally moves. The best bronze work is that which looks natural and realistic.


With a focus on life in Montana, my work includes equine scenes, the rodeo, life in the West and more. Two of my largest pieces are the sculptures of Sacajawea that were commissioned for the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Follow me on my most recent journey – blogging – to learn more about bronze sculpting and the stories behind my work.