Casting the Gresley Maquette

Patinating the gresley maquette - by Hazel Reeves

The bronze pour has been a success and the follow-up metalwork has been done by the foundry. I enjoy the drive up to Bronze Age, to check the metalwork before the patination (or colouring) begins. After a few tweaks in the metal, we take Sir Nigel to the patination space.

The combining of heat with chemicals is not an exact science. Colouring bronze is a real art. It is always a voyage of discovery. Luckily they have great patinators who really try to understand what you are trying to achieve. I know what I don’t want – I don’t want that traditional, rather dark, brown bronze finish. I want something more subtle.

He takes his time, layer upon layer until we have a rather lovely warm opaque brown with beautiful variations in colour. A final layer of clear wax and Sir Nigel is ready for the drive back down to Brighton to be mounted on a wooden base and delivered to the client.

Two members of the Gresley Society Trust – Andrew Dow and Nigel Dant – come to my studio to pick up the bronze maquette. By now they feel more like friends than clients. We have been on a long journey together. I unveil the bronze. Finally our combined vision has come to fruition. They are absolutely charmed with it. The maquette is whisked away to the Gresley Society Trust Council meeting where it is whole-heartedly endorsed.

But there is no time for Andrew and Nigel to stand on their laurels. Permissions need to be sought from Camden Council, English Heritage and Network Rail for the siting of the 7ft 4 inch bronze on the new Western Concourse at King’s Cross Station. To everyone’s delight, by October 2014, all the permissions have been gained. It is time for the fundraising to begin.

Postscript: In late March 2015 I was commissioned by the Gresley Society Trust to sculpt the larger-than-life figure of Sir Nigel Gresley, but without the mallard duck at his side.

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