Richard Smarts biggest bronze work to date is the
Lantern, placed next to the five bollards and opposite
the Hundertwasser Toilets on the main street of
Kawakawa, New Zealand
As with all community based and volunteer projects
the success  of this one relied heavily on the
assistance of those organizing the funding for
materials and the technical advice of Oliver Stretton-
Pow. Oliver’s knowledge and willingness to be
available and provide his casting expertise at cut
rates over an extended period of time were all major
factors in the completion of the Lantern.
What does it all mean?
Apart from simply a means to further illuminate the
area Richard has included the option to have
directional signs installed on the koru spiral fronds in
the future. Signs would point to the Train Station, the
Hundertwasser Toilets, Johnson Park at the entrance
to Kawakawa and the small Kawakawa Museum
housed in the old library building.
As far as the meaning behind the sculpture itself,
Richard says that the observer should draw their own
conclusions from what they see. However his
reasoning was that the Earth is represented by the
upper sphere. It is being supported by the extension
of mans involvement with the planet. Man is seen at
the base and has evolved as the critical player in the
planets future. We hold the keys to the future survival
of everything living. We inherit the role of guardians.
The base represents man and nature. We are reliant
on each other in many ways. We need each other to
survive and must form a treaty of cooperation. Mans
use and abuse of the energy we require to exist is
represented by the lights. The full weight of the
planet rests on mankind.
Making the Lantern
An initial concept and design was presented to the
Kawakawa Community Trust who approved the
allocation of funding. From there the making of the
masters for the sculpture could progress. The lamp
was made in seven sections. Except for two, the
sections were made in two or more pieces when cast
in bronze because of the sheer weight and size of
the pieces involved.
Once masters were made a plaster mould has to be
made around it. It may require the mould to be in
multiple pieces depending on whether there are
undercuts etc. Some of the moulds were made from
flexible mould material to avoid having to make a
multi faceted plaster mould.
Some moulds were made directly off Richards three
daughters for the two feet and hand holding a frond
stem. Pictured left above is Madison as she enjoys
the moment.
Pictured left seated and reading, Jessie Smart waits
patiently for the plaster mould to cure. The mould has
been made in two pieces in order to be able to get
her hand out. Later the mould is put back together
and wax poured in. The mould then has to be
destroyed to expose the wax which can then be
further worked.
Various props were included in forming the shapes.
An exercise ball can be pumped up to the desired
size for the upper sphere. Wire mesh reinforcing is
used to strengthen the plaster.
The next stage is to make a wax replica of the
original master. This requires a microcrystalline wax
which is further adapted when melted to produce the
correct flexibility. This can vary from summer to
winter and each artist or mould maker will have their
preference gained from experience.
The wax ‘masters’ can be shaped or carved and
have additions included at this point. On smaller
pieces it is possible to sculpt directly in wax and
thereby skipping two stages of the process. The
lower glass grid section of the lamp was made in this
way although the wax sections which were fused
together to form the framework had to be cast from a
mould first.
The wax master for the mid section framework
designed to receive glass inlay was built up from cast
profiles of wax because of the intricate nature of the
The wax is very fragile and has to be supported by
various means. For the base section bamboo stakes
were used because they can burn out leaving little or
no residue when fired. Care has to be taken to keep
the wax in cool conditions and out of sunlight.
Transporting large wax pieces becomes a challenge.
Pictured at right, Oliver removes the first of five
pieces making up the mould for the upper section of
the Lamp. This was the largest mould and one-piece
wax replica to be made. Eventually the wax was cut
into five sections before being made ready for
Because of the weight of the upper section mould it
is not possible to pour in the wax and rotate the
mould for even cover. The molten wax has to be
applied by hand (pictured left) and built up in layers
until the desired thickness is achieved. The thickness
of the wax is critical as it determines the final
thickness and therefore weight of the bronze casting.
A section of mould is removed from the wax replica.
Visible seams can be seen at the joins in the mould.
These will be removed during the working of the wax.
Note how perfectly the ridges from the ball that was
used to form the sphere are reproduced. Because a
large amount of the surface of the sphere will be cut
away it was not important to remove these at the
mould stage.
A major difficulty was the weight of the wax for this
piece. It had to be supported as its own weight was
enough to cause damage to the structure of the wax.
Whilst in one piece it had to be suspended off the
ground and the inside had to be reinforced with
bamboo to maintain the shape. During transportation
the wax was returned into the mould for protection.
When the piece was eventually ready for casting it
was cut into five more manageable pieces.
Upper mid section has had the investment mould
from casting removed and has been welded back
into one piece.
Temporary fitting of lower sections
The four Red Lenses are cast with New Zealand’s
world famous Gaffer Glass
65 individual glass segments are roughly cut from
patterns taken off the apertures in the sphere. They
are then laid on top of curved moulds made to the
same radius as the sphere and ‘slumped’ in an
electric kiln. Once curved to the correct shape they
must be accurately ground with a diamond grinder to
the exact shape allowing space for the sealant which
will hold them in place. Each piece is individually
sandblasted on the inside before they are installed.
The lower section complete including glazing and the
patina applied to the bronze. The inlaid glass has
been sandblasted to give a frosted effect and hide
the light fittings inside. Different types of glass were
Installation was completed in one (rainy) day with the
assistance of Kawakawa Engineering. Final finishing
of the base at ground level was completed the day
after. electrical connections are integrated with the
town lighting so that the Lantern is illuminated at the
same time the street lights come on
Copyright © 2010 Richard C Smart. All rights reserved.
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