There are a few finer materials to work with other than Bronze. You can see some of the most wonderful examples of Bronze Horse Sculpture and other works at the following website at www.gillparker.com/ to give you a modern-day view of the types of sculpture that are available.
But why do we so love to use bronze as a medium for sculpture and how some there are so many examples of its use still today centuries after its discovery in the classical world?
In the classical world there was always a call for the odd statue or 12. This could have been of a local Goddess or God that is currently all the rage in the local market or town. The regional artists would be gathered and would submit their plans and interpretation of whomever it was the buy wanted. The would then go away and start work chipping away at a nice block of stone or marble ready to get the piece down. While this was ok it took ages to get the right piece of stone and then there was the endless months of chipping. By the time they were done some other deity had probably come into vogue. Not only that, stone broke easily especially if it was dropped from the back of the cart come delivery time. The same was true of marble but even worse it was possible for the installation to be damaged (Venus Di Milo for example) not just when it was in transit but also in situ too. What was really needed was a material that was hardwearing and easy to manipulate at the same time. The answer came from a metal that had been around for a while but was used more for war such as shields, armour and swords. It was Bronze.
Bronze is not a straight metal. It is in fact an alloy of copper and tin with a bit of aluminium as well. The inclusion of arsenic is also important as it make the stuff even more malleable. When the whole lot was heated up and mixed in a large pot it was runny and perfect for pouring, although very carefully. The artist was able to make moulds from clay and sand which the bronze was then poured into. It is very much a process that hasn’t really changed at all since then. Artist use the same mould principal. Once the metal had suitably cooled down it was time to get filling off any flash or excess. The parts could be screwed together and transported in pieces to the place it was to be displayed. There are quite a few remaining examples from the classical period but a lot of it was lost as the first thing that got melted down to make weapons was the bronze statues the artists had worked so hard on.