Sculpture Courses 2017
  • June 23 - 25
  • July 28 - 30
  • August 25 - 27
  • September 22 - 24
  • October 20 - 22
Jan Sweeney sculpture is instantly recognisable; full of energy and movement, with strong texture and trademark hollow eyes.

"I always work from life taking the modelling wax to the subject, even in the Zambezi valley, to create an African wildlife sculpture. I am inspired by watching animals in their natural habitat, especially in the untouched wilderness which is still to be found in Africa. There, the unwary die, so even when an animal is at rest it is ready to flee. It is this untamed strength and power; always ready to explode into movement, that I want to express in my sculpture."

I first went to Zimbabwe in 1990 for a holiday, left my clothes behind saying I will be back. In 1991 I returned with the intention to make wildlife sculpture. From this point on I learnt to work in wax to make moulds and to cast bronze sculpture. My first foundry was on a friend's farm with my African worker Killion to assist me".

Jan Sweeney sculpture is cast in 'hot' bronze and is virtually indestructible - a family heirloom to be passed down the generations.

Bronze sculpture is stunning in a garden or patio setting, or is equally suitable for the house.

For more information please contact me at:
Tel: +44 (0)1278 722023
About Jan Sweeney
The daughter of an Irish vet, Jan Sweeney grew up in the open countryside of East Anglia, on the east coast of England.
Her early training was at Colchester Art School, and she followed this with three years working in Verona, Italy, under sculptor Mike Noble.
She first visited Africa in 1985, where the African scene and wildlife had a powerful influence on her work.

Jan divides her time between her lakeside cottage at Lake Chivero, Zimbabwe, and her house in Somerset, England.
Because of this, her work portrays the animals of both the English countryside and the game of the African bush.
Horses are a particular love of this accomplished horsewoman, who has also competed successfully in both eventing and dressage.

Public Collections
  • Nature in Art Museum, Gloucester, UK
  • BP Collection, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • First National Bank Art Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa

  • 1993 - Wild Arts Society - Best Sculpture - Best Overall
  • 1996-1998 - Wild Arts Society - Best Sculpture
  • 1999 - Prix du Meaudre - CDAA Sculpture

  • Chelsea Flower Show, UK - 2001-2016
  • Nature in Art, Gloucester, UK - 2001-Current
  • ArtParks, Guernsey, UK - 2001-Current
  • The Royal Academy - 1994-1995
  • Sun City Palace Hotel, South Africa - 1998-2002
  • Centre de Documentation Sur l'art Animalier, Belgium - 1998-2002
  • Sculpture in the Park, Loveland, Colorado, USA - 1996

Ceramic Sculpture Courses with Jan Sweeney A. R. B. S

  • 2-4 days
  • Tariff £75 per day, including lunch
  • Maximum 4 people
  • Materials charged at cost

Please contact Liz on tel. +44(0)1278 691272.
A course requires 3-4 people so group bookings are more than welcome.

Course dates for 2017

  • June 23 - 25
  • July 28 - 30
  • August 25 - 27
  • September 22 - 24
  • October 20 - 22
Pound Studio
I began teaching a few courses each summer over 4 years ago. It is nothing smart, only 4 people in my working studio at any time. There is often a vast mix of abilities, often no experience - sometimes a lot! There is always a lot to learn from another sculptors' way of working, some things may be relevant!
We each start by rolling out a pancake of clay and making an owl, to allow everyone to get used to using the clay (grogged paper clay). Working with a hollow shape, pushing out from the inside and pressing in from the outside, we then build up the already formed shape. Each owl is always quite different and there are lots of illustrations to work from. Then everyone can choose to make whatever they would like using drawings or photos of animals, abstracts and figures.
It is important to keep moving forward, I like 2 sculptures a day from everyone, each one will be better than the last and require less help. It helps to not get stuck on one sculpture, better to leave it and move on to another one. It can be anything as long as there are no long thin legs. The clays can all be fired and we will use newspaper, polystyrene and clay props as supports.
I also do a 4 day mould making course - 2 days of sculpture and 2 days making the mould, pouring a wax and finishing it ready to go to the foundry. This makes it much cheaper to cast a bronze, as the foundry will normally charge for making the mould and the wax pouring. This also cuts out the need to inspect the wax before the casting.
There are excellent B&B's in the village, lunch is provided on the course, all materials are at cost, the clays can either be left to be fired or else taken to be fired at a school or pottery near you.
The Making of Mhondoro
I was approached by Alistair Roper of Sun International to show him some of my work with a view to me doing the trophies for the Nedbank Million Dollar Golf Tournament. I sat up late at night working on three lionesses - one landing, one running and one taking off. I caught the plane from Harare to Jo'burg with my three lions in my suitcase ready to meet with Alistair only to be told that he wanted a male lion. So I caught the plane back and started again...
Origination This is the origination model which was approved, and I set about making 'Mhondoro'.
After approval, I made a two piece mould and plaster jacket. Five years ago, my moulds were so poor due to lack of knowledge and experience that I would end up spending two days on each wax and the moulds, just tidying them up. Time has taught me that concentrating on the quality of the mould will result in minimal attention on the wax models themselves. Silicon Rubber Mould
Making of the Wax Model I use a succession of chip frying pans to melt the wax before pouring it into the mould. I then roll it around and tip the excess out. I do this three times to make a hollow wax model. The picture shows Amos pouring the wax.
On completion of the wax model, sprues need to be attached. This is an art in itself. Every founder has a different method. The fat rods allow the bronze to feed the model and the thin ones allow the gases to escape. Trial, error and a lot of 'short runs' later - my sprues always allow the bronze to go somewhere - there are no dead ends. A patch from the side of the lion is removed so that the slurry can coat the inside as well as the outside. The patch is sprued to the side of the tail so it can be made along with the rest of the lion and attached by welding at the end of the process. Attaching of Sprues
Making the Ceramic Mould Dipping into colloidal silica slurry - the secret here is not too thick and not too thin and sprinkle with silica sand. This picture shows Amos dipping the mould.
Nine coats later produces a ceramic shell sufficiently thick to withhold the molten bronze. Ceramic Mould with Wax still inside
Burning out of the Wax This is the melting away of the wax. This must be a hot and quick process. A New Zealand friend of mine holds the shell in one hand and the gas torch in the other. This entails too much risk of being burned, so I prefer an oil drum and a large gas torch - a lot safer!
Once all the wax is burned out, you have an empty shell. The ceramic shell now has a void where the wax was and thus this method of casting is known as the 'lost wax technique'. Empty Ceramic Shell
Melting the Bronze The bronze is melted in a crucible in the centre of a coke furnace. Gas, paraffin, diesel or induction furnaces can also be used.
This is always exciting no matter how many times you do it. The orange-red molten metal in the crucible is lifted from the furnace and put in the basket and then poured into the shells, which are bedded firmly into sand. If the bronze keeps pouring and the mould does not fill up - panic, you have a crack! The bronze is running out into the sand. Pouring the Bronze
Mould Removal Now the boring bit - removing the ceramic mould from the cooled bronze. This is done by painstakingly removing the ceramic with a hammer and chisel and must be done without marking the bronze.
The sprues need to be removed.   This is done by carefully using an angle grinder ensuring no flat edges are left behind. Final touch ups include fettling with air tools, small tips, wire brushes and sand blasting. Sprue Removal
Welding The clean bronze is now welded to close any holes (intentionally there for the drying process when making a ceramic mould).  The patch on the side is replaced and the lion welded to the base. Again, fettling is done on the newly welded areas.
The finished bronze is wire brushed and patenated with acid to give it the desired colour. Patenating
The Finished Bronze The bronze is polished, attached to a wooden base and named.
Contact Information
In addition to the Lost Wax Bronze Sculptures shown on these pages, special commissions are also undertaken.
Tel/Fax +44 (0) 1278 722023
Jan Sweeney
Nr. Glastonbury
United Kingdom
Enquiries, Sales, Course Vouchers
Please contact Liz Twose
Tel/Fax +44 (0) 1278 691272