Saturday, December 29, 2012

Can A Machine Make Art?

Here is something very unusual. Here is a one-of-a-kind bronze sculpture of a bird that was created by my casting machine the last time I cast. Sometimes when casting, molten bronze flies out of the crucible and lands behind the flask when the casting machine spins. This usually produces nothing but this time I noticed the interesting shape. To me I see a crane type bird standing behind an egg or a sunrise. A tree is seen at the back of the bird. I find it amazing the positioning of the legs, body, neck and head. Someone I showed it to thought it was a cat. I guess what I think is a tree is the cat's head and the tail is the bird's neck. To me it is a bird. Stands about 2" tall.

So I ask the question, can a machine make art? What do you think?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Painting Miniatures - Mixing Colors - Step One

Painting miniatures can be a tricky process. Deciding what colors to mix and use can be harder than you think. All colors must be reduced and balanced so detail is not lost. This is the process I use after the white base coat is dry.

First, I inspect each piece to be sure there are no problems in the base coat. I then custom mix each color as I go. I apply the colors in steps, one at a time on every piece. Sometimes this gets a little hard to do. Applying the same step over and over again on so many pieces can be a challenge at times, but this is the best way to paint the entire edition so that they are all the same.

I use Alkyd paint, which are fast drying oil paint. I custom mix each color into these small plastic containers that have lids so they store good while the edition is being painted. They will usually keep for about a week before drying out so I must complete the painting step in that time or remix if needed. These are the colors I mixed so far and I am only on step one.

Here is "Blast Off" and "Ice Cream" with the first painting step applied. This one step alone took me two days. I was mixing colors and that took extra time. This edition is going to be harder to paint than I first thought.

I always try and mix the next colors in advance and test them on a few pieces before I paint the whole edition. Here are the next five steps on three pieces. I then look at them and make sure they are good before I proceed to the entire edition. This gives me time to correct something before all that work is done on the edition. I have learned to be careful with paint because it is easy to make a mistake. In the past I have had to start over on pieces and that is a big set back.

Stay tuned for more updates to follow. Thanks for reading.

Randall Zadar
Sculptor/Zadar Studios

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How To Paint Miniatures - Airbrushing

The first step in painting a bronze miniature is to seal the bronze. The reason for this is that bronze is over 90 percent copper, which can patina easily. This means that the paint can actually cause the bronze to turn colors or darken. To prevent that from happening, I dip each figurine in an acrylic sealant and heat with a hot air gun. This sealer melts into the surface sealing the bronze and giving a perfect base to paint upon.

The next step is to mount each bronze figurine onto a painting stick so it can be airbrushed and painted. This is what I call a painting tray. Holds 19 painting sticks. The round tray allows me to place it on a Lazy Susan and spin to each stick as needed.

The airbrushing begins. I use white enamel paint and carefully spray the paint as to not fill in the detail. This is a very tricky step and must be done correctly.


Here are the finished airbrushed pieces of "Ice Cream" and "Blast Off." Now they must sit and dry for two days before painting can begin. The white base coat must be completely dry before the oil paints and glazes can be applied.

The white base coat is essential to painting miniatures because it allows the colors to show the detail. Any kind of darker color would hide detail and make a miniature hard to see. The light actually shines through the paint layers and reflects off this white base coat giving the miniature an almost porcelain look.

Next step is mixing and painting colors. That will be in the next update.

Thanks for looking,
Randall Zadar
Sculptor/Zadar Studios

Monday, December 24, 2012

How To Sculpt Wax - Sculpting Update - Robin Hood

I did some more sculpting on the miniature Robin Hood Wax Master making a necessary change in the design. Since the first post about this piece, I noticed a big problem. I felt it was expecting too much for the molten metal to flow up through the legs only, then up the arms, out into the bow and then through the arrow before cooling. So I added some sleeves and tipped him up so that the right sleeve touches his leg. This change improves the chances of a successful casting because the bronze flow is now closer to the arrow and bow. There is a lot of thought, planning and engineering that goes into a successful design that molds and casts well.

Also this changes the angle of the Archer. He now points upward; perhaps he is shooting at a castle or something in a tree or far away. I like this position better as there is even more a feel of action and suspense.

A friend suggested that I consider creating a series and add Friar Tuck and Maid Marian. This is a good idea. I encourage anyone following the process and development of these pieces to feel free to comment and make suggestions. I am sure there will be many more changes as I continue to sculpt this piece.

NOTE, 4/6/15. I have finished the Robin Hood piece. See the blog entry for more information. Here is a picture of the finished miniature bronze sculpture.

Robin Hood Collectible Figurine

Randall Zadar
Sculptor/Zadar Studios

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How To Produce A Bronze Miniature Figurine - Grinding

Work started this week in the studio on "Blast Off." and "Ice Cream." These are two special edition bronze pieces featuring mice. Here is a picture.

After the casting, the sprues are cut off as discussed in the last entry. Here is a picture of the raw bronzes. They are closely inspected for defects. Only the good castings are used. Failed castings are melted down in the next cast.

The first step is to grind the bottoms flat. This is a very tricky step where many pieces have met their doom. If too much metal is removed, the piece is ruined. The procedure is done on a 1" belt sander. The piece must be held perfectly straight so that when finished it does not lean. In order to do this step, you must have good hand-eye coordination. Also the piece gets very hot from friction so it must be dipped in water to cool every few seconds. To help protect my fingers, I wear a latex glove.

One of the dangers in this process is the belt ripping while grinding. When the belt rips like this, the piece usually gets ruined because it tips forward into the belt, grinding off important detail.

Here the bottoms have all been ground flat.

Next step is to use a diamond bur on a rotary tool and remove any imperfections on the surface. This is a slow and time consuming process but must be done correctly otherwise the paint will show the flaws. On these two pieces, almost the entire surface area must be burnished because of the smooth areas in the design. Took me two days to complete the meticulous grinding on these pieces.

Now that the grinding is finished, the next step is to inspect them one more time, then wash and seal. That will be the next update.

Thanks for your interest,
Randall Zadar
Sculptor/Zadar Studios

To order Zadar Miniatures, please contact the listed dealers:

Shoalts Collectibles 419-836-9227
Through The Keyhole 214-691-7467
Larrianne's Small Wonders 805-289-1508
Miniature Designs 800-413-2040

Monday, December 17, 2012

How To Cast Bronze Figurines - Lost Wax Casting

This is an explanation of the steps I use to cast my bronze miniatures. Here is a picture of the Silicon Bronze metal cubes I use to cast with. Also notice I am melting down previous castings and what they call "buttons" which is the bronze base that the sprues are attached to. When casting, you always need more metal than the sculpture requires. Without the extra metal, the sculpture will not cast well. Fortunately, the bronze can be reused and mixed with some new metal for casting.

Next, the hot flasks are removed from the oven one at a time and placed into a centrifugal casting machine. The correct amount of bronze cubes are added to the crucible and then heated with a torch to about 1850 degrees.
When the bronze is melted and flowing, some flux is added and when perfect, the machine is released, spinning the molten bronze into the cavities in the flasks. Here is a picture of the machine spinning.
After the machine spins for about two minutes, the hot flask is removed and allowed to cool for about 10 minutes. Here the flask is sitting on a firebrick.

After about 10 minutes, the very hot flask is quenched in cold water. This is a violent reaction of the heat meeting the cold water but is a necessary step to strengthen the bronze. This steamy reaction also helps push the investment material off the bronze castings.

Here is what the bronze casting looks like coming out of the flask. Notice there is still a lot of the white investment material so it doesn't look like much.

The casting process is repeated over and over again until all the flasks are cast one at a time. Here is the complete casting. Took me about 15 hours but there were some breaks in there.

Now the bronze castings need to be cleaned to remove the investment material and fire scale. I used to take a toothbrush and work each one by hand, but that was too time consuming. Then I used to power wash them clean, but that is hard to do in the winter. So now the best way is to sandblast them. This is still a messy job but it cleans them up nice. Pictures are before and after. Notice the white material is removed in the second picture.

Here is a picture of all the casting after sandblasting.
Now the sprues have to be cut off the bronze casting. I have found doing this with a hacksaw is the best way. I mount them in a vice and use a small hacksaw and cut them off one at a time by hand. This is a lot of hard work.

Here are all the cut bronze figurines. There are about 300 pieces here, all requiring hundreds of steps before they will be done. The next step is to separate and count them, then grind the bottoms flat. That will be in the next update.

Thanks for your interest. Any questions, please contact me. Consider starting a collection of fine art miniature bronze figurines. Go to my website to find a dealer.

Randall Zadar
Sculptor/ Zadar Studios
Call The Studio: 440-878-1474

Friday, December 14, 2012

How To Sculpt A Wax Figurine - Lost Wax Casting

I started sculpting some new pieces in wax. I want to show you the progression of how I sculpt a miniature figurine so you can see how it is done. This is the first step and what I call the "rough-in." The sculpture is very crude with no detail. This is basically a three dimensional sketch to see how the piece will look. From here, it may take three months to a year to complete the sculpting of the wax master if I decide to complete the piece. This is just an idea and I may decide later to not make the piece. After the sculpting is complete, I will make a mold of the wax, but more on that later.

I first start by building up a special wax onto a sculpting stick. The stick allows me to sculpt the piece without touching it, because the heat from your hand can destroy detail in the wax. This first idea is an Archer or Robin Hood idea. I really like the action and pose of the figure. The piece has delicate and open feel. Stands about one inch tall but when completed, there will be some shrinkage in the mold and casting so that has to be accounted for in the design. There is about two hours of sculpting time in the first rough-in.

The wax I use is a blend of a red jewelry wax I bought a long time ago from Swest (went out of business). I have enough of this wax to last me a couple of years, after that, I am not sure what I will use. There looks like something similar available at Rio Grande that I haven't tried yet. I like this wax because I can see the design well and it is a little softer so it takes some pushing without breaking. If you look at the rough-in, you will notice a purple color wax as well. This is an injection wax that I often use as skeleton to build upon. This purple wax is much softer than the red and allows me to work on the sculpture without it breaking every ten minutes. This is an old trick used by Sculptors who work in wax.

I build the wax up using a hot tool that is foot controlled. When I want heat, I press the foot pedal for a few moments. Controlling the temperature is critical to being a good Wax Sculptor. The right amount of heat allows the wax to flow.


For my next idea, I roughed-in this Mariner piece. I found a picture of an old bronze and just love the action and feel of the Mariner guiding the ship through a storm. Below you can see the picture and the wax master rough-in. Also notice, I used a thin wire as an armature for the ship's wheel. I will coat the wire with wax. The wire will give strength to the delicate wheel. The piece is about 7/8 inch tall.

Finally, this week, I roughed-in a long awaited Macaw bird. I say long awaited because collectors have been asking me for years to make a colorful Macaw. So this is the rough sculpture so far. Stands about 7/8" tall. I have two sculpting sessions into this piece, about three hours so far. You can begin to appreciate the immense amount of work sculpting these pieces in wax must be. Refining the details takes hundreds of hours of working on these delicate wax master sculptures.

More updates on these will follow on these sculptures. Stay tuned.

Also this week, I am casting in bronze. I just spent two weeks making molds and injecting about 400 wax patterns. This picture show the wax patterns mounted on the bases and ready to be invested.

Here are the invested flasks placed into the burn-out oven. There are about 65 flasks in here. After about 12 hours and hitting the high temperature of 1350 degrees, the flasks cool to 1000 degrees. I then take them out one at a time and cast them into bronze. This is a very long process and can take me up to 16 hours to complete this many. I hope these pictures help show the amount of work involved in this labor intense Lost Wax Casting Process. Stay tuned for more updates on how the cast came out.

Thanks for your interest. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Randall Zadar
Sculptor/Zadar Studios
Call the Studio: 440-878-1474

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ralphie Paint Test and more

Hello, The recent Christmas offer for these Ralphie Paint Test pieces went really fast. All the pieces are gone. However, you can still special order the mice pieces and the natural bronze version listed below.

Hope you have a great Holiday Season.


Rare List - Miniatures by Randall Zadar
Email the Studio:

Bronze Miniature

Have you ever wondered what Ralphie from The Christmas Story Movie would have looked like in a different color bunny costume? Now you can know. I went ahead and painted 11 different Paint Test versions of Ralphie for this Christmas Season. Do you need a unique miniature gift this year? Here is the perfect gift. These are all for sale on a first come, first serve basis and you must purchase from your dealer. Please respond to the studio by email only as that is my best way to keep track of who ordered first. Then let your dealer know. There is time to get one for Christmas. If you are interest, don't delay. Issue price is $85.00 each. Will be signed and marked "Paint Test" on the bottom. Ralphie is 7/8" tall, bronze-cast and hand-painted in oils.

Bronze Miniature


Last summer I designed and cast these two mice pieces, but after working on the colors for awhile, I was never really happy with the outcome. So I decided to not issue the pieces and melt the editions down. I actually put the pieces in the bronze pile to be melted down next cast. However, I did make some prototypes for the Chicago International Show last spring. Some collectors saw the pieces and asked for one, but I still didn't plan on making them. Recently I was asked again to make a small edition of special order pieces so I tried the coloration one last time. This time I am happy with the final look so I am going to make some for collectors who order them.

"Blast Off" is a miniature story scene featuring a mouse who just lit the fuse on a rocket and is waiting for it to take off. He is holding his ears because he knows it will be loud. "Ice Cream" tells the story of a girl mouse who is getting ready to eat her favorite mint ice cream cone.

If you are interested, you must order through your dealer. Work will start on these in about a week, so let me know soon if you are interested. These will be non numbered but will have "special edition" written on the bottom. Issue price is $95.00 each. Again, you must order the pieces through your dealer. You will not automatically receive it even if you are a Reserve Collector. Blast Off is 7/8" tall, bronze-cast and hand-painted in oils. Ice Cream in 5/8" tall, bronze-cast and hand-painted in oils.

Bronze Miniature
Bronze Miniature

DRESSAGE and BORN FREE in Natural Bronze

Here is another special order item available to collectors. Dressage and Born Free in a natural bronze version with an antique finish. I will start working on these in a few weeks so if you are interested, contact your dealer and place an order. Issue price is $75.00 each. Dressage and Born free are 7/8" tall and cast in foundry bronze

The beautiful wood display dome is by Charles Lewandowski.

Zadar Miniatures Dealers:
Marlene Shoalts, 419-836-9227 - Ohio
Gayle Harrison,
214-691-7467 - Texas
Larrianne Hilditch,
805-289-1508 - California
Beverly Simon,
800-413-2040 - Georgia

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Complete Collection of Zadar Miniatures

Every now and then I have to mention that there is a complete collection of Zadar Miniatures for sale. Every piece from number one to current number 203. This collection is from the beginning in 1994 to current pieces. These are serial number 5. This collection is for the serious art collector or a museum collection. You will not find a complete collection like this offered. Contact me for more information. Serious inquires only; this is a high-ticket collection. Will not separate pieces.

Randall Zadar
    Sculptor/Zadar Studios


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bronze Casting of a Sword

Hi, I saw this cool video on YouTube of casting a bronze sword in the ancient way. I thought it was interesting. Amazing discovery of adding tin to copper to make bronze. The bronze is so much stronger than just copper. I know after working with the stuff for about 20 years, it is a wonderful metal and absolutely perfect for sculpture. I love the stuff. I will be posting more information about bronze casting in the future. Check this out:

Randall Zadar
Zadar Studios

Street Artist Finished

Hi, I just finished up "Street Artist" bronze miniature. The pieces have been shipped to the dealers and is ready to order. Click HERE for dealer listing.

New Miniature Figurine

"Street Artist"

A new miniature figurine featuring a Street Artist painting a picture. In the style of a Venetian Street Artist painting pictures for tourists. A highly detailed and complex bronze figurine. Available Now.

Details: Cast in Foundry Bronze. Hand-painted in oils. Limited Edition of 75 signed and numbered pieces. Height: 1", Issue price: $125.00.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Release - "Street Artist"

Hello friends,

I decided to give a sneak peak to collectors of the next three new releases from the studio. The first of the three I am working on now will be ready in mid to late August 2012. This piece is called Street Artist. I started work on this piece about three years ago and then put it away. Sometimes I start pieces then let them sit until the time seems right to release them.

The theme of this piece is an artist painting a picture while sitting on some steps along a street somewhere like Venice. The painting is of a boat so he is possibly near some water. To me it seems like he is selling these paintings to tourists.

I really like the body language of this piece. The inspiration came from an old capodimonte porcelain figurine that I have always liked. I really enjoy the way he is holding his brush while he checks his work on his painting.

If you enjoy art and support artists, this will be a special piece for your collection. Limited edition of 75 pieces, issue price is $125.00. Cast in Bronze and hand-painted. Available in mid to late August. Please visit to reserve one today.

Thanks for looking,

Randall Zadar
Sculptor/Zadar Studios

YouTube Video

New Release - "Miss Lexie"

Hello friends,

The next new release is called, Miss Lexie. I named this piece after my daughter Alexis. The piece features an elegant girl in a beautiful dress. I really like the detail and coloration of this piece. The piece has a very delicate look and will display great in your collection or miniature setting.

The piece is a limited edition of 75 pieces. Issue price is $75.00 and available in early September 2012. The piece stands at 7/8 of an inch. Cast in bronze and hand-painted. For ordering information, go to

Thanks for looking,
Randall Zadar
Sculptor/Zadar Studios

YouTube Video

New Release - "Merry Christmas"

Hello friends,

The third new release is called Merry Christmas. This fun piece features Santa Claus popping out of the chimney with his arms out wide, celebrating Christmas. I really like the action of this piece and it is very eye catching.

I  have been recently trying to make pieces in time for seasonal events, which is hard to always have them, ready in time. This piece will be ready in October 2012 so there is plenty of time to order one as a gift for you or someone else. The piece looks great in a collection or miniature setting.

Produced in a limited edition of 75 pieces. Issue price is $75.00. Cast in bronze and hand-painted. For ordering information, please visit

Thanks for looking,

Randall Zadar
Sculptor/Zadar Studios

YouTube Video