Commonly Asked Questions
Shelley S. Curtiss is a skilled and creative professional sculptor with twenty-five years of experience. To read more about her visit the Artist Bio page. Curtiss Studios, which is Shelley’s home, art studio, photo studio, and business office, is located in the small town of Joseph, a beautiful artist community at the foot of the Wallowa Mountains of Northeast Oregon. Her work is cast in bronze and shipped from nearby Parks Bronze foundry in Enterprise, Oregon. The following questions are often asked. Please feel free to contact her for additional information.
How do I view the artwork available? Click on Curtiss Studios on the menu bar, click on Limited Editions, then click on any of the small, partial images for more photos and information. Because purchasing fine art is a highly personal, hands-on experience, you may wish to visit one of the galleries listed on this site. If you have another favorite gallery where you live, you may be able to arrange a viewing of the sculpture you have interest in through them. Most gallery representatives are happy to accommodate their best clients.
How do I get more information? By clicking on the email address at the bottom of each screen, you can easily send your comments or questions directly to Curtiss Studios. Or, you may call the number provided and speak to the artist personally if available or leave a message. Your questions will be answered promptly. If you are on a busy schedule and need a return call, leave what hours you would prefer to be called, along with your phone number.
What is the Artist presently working on? Shelley will occasionally post photos of works in progress on her website along with pertinent information. If the piece she is working on is not a commissioned sculpture, you may be able to buy in as a “pre-casting” buyer and secure a lower price. Your inquiry is always welcome.
Can I get a lower price by buying directly from the artist? No, unless you are purchasing a future casting of the work presently in progress, referred to above as the pre-cast price. Shelley works closely with her galleries and does not undercut their prices. She also guarantees to her galleries a commission on the sale of any piece which has been viewed by the buyer in that particular gallery.
May I purchase a piece on a payment plan? Usually that can be arranged through your gallery or dealer. Normally, the piece being purchased will be kept on display in the gallery show room with a “Sold” sign until the balance is satisfied.
Are the bronzes guaranteed? Yes, by the artist, foundry, and shipper. Each bronze comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, which is the artist’s guarantee that you have a specifically numbered sculpture from a limited edition. The artist also guarantees, in collaboration with the foundry, a timeline for delivery. The bronze casting itself comes with a limited guarantee from the foundry that covers any defects in workmanship. And, all sculptures are boxed or crated by experienced employees at the foundry and shipped to buyers or galleries by reputable couriers, usually UPS, and insured while in transit, guaranteed to reached their destination without damage.
How do I purchase a bronze? You have a number of options from which to choose. You may purchase directly from Curtiss Studios, however, you may have to wait for the piece to be cast if the piece is not in stock. In which case, the casting process may take between ten to sixteen weeks depending on the current workload at the foundry. The buyer would be required to send a non-refundable check or money order for half the purchase price as an up-front deposit. Once the piece is cast, photos would be sent to the buyer for approval, and upon approval, the remainder of the balance plus the shipping costs would be required before the work would be shipped.
Other options are; to purchase directly from one of the galleries listed on this site; to purchase through your alternate, favorite gallery of choice; or, to purchase through your own private dealer. Galleries and dealers are happy to work with you and with one another to make your purchase easy. If you are ordering a piece which is not in stock, please refer to the criteria in the above paragraph.
How do I commission a work of art? Shelley works closely with her buyers and has a long-standing reputation for meeting timelines and surpassing quality standards specified by her contracts. Each step of the process is documented for the buyer and a plan of progressive payments is required. Please contact her directly by phone or email to discuss the scope of your project, and get an estimated cost and timeline.
What is a limited edition bronze? When a clay model is complete, it is delivered to a foundry to be molded and cast in bronze via the lost wax process. From the master mold, numerous wax patterns can be made, each of which is a duplicate of the original clay model, and each of which can then be cast separately. At the time the clay model is first delivered to the foundry, the artist is required to “declare” the size of the edition (the total number of how many wax patterns may be made from the mold), and each bronze that is ordered is numbered according to the artist’s request.
For instance, if a clay model of a rabbit is taken in and the artist declares the edition size to be twenty (20) and then orders five rabbits to be cast in bronze, each of the five final sculptures will have a number visibly engraved on the piece, usually next to the artist’s signature and copyright insignia. The numbers may be 1/20, 2/20, 3/20, etc. Alternately, the artist may request numbers out of sync, such as 5/20, 12/20, 8/20 to satisfy the wishes of buyers who prefer that all collected pieces have the same favorite number on them. Whatever numbers in the edition are requested, records are kept meticulously by the foundry (a good one) and artist to ensure that only one of each number is cast. The Certificate of Authenticity lists that number and the foundry which cast it and guarantees that after the specified number of bronzes in the edition are cast, the original mold is destroyed. This ensures the buyer that his/her investment is protected and that over time the limited number of duplicate sculptures will increase in value. Most artists reserve the right to cast one or two additional pieces to be used as reference work at the foundry. They may be called Artist Proofs or Foundry Proofs and those pieces must also be declared on the certificate of guarantee.
What is a lost wax casting? When the original clay model from the artist’s studio is delivered to the foundry, an inner flexible mold with an outer “mother mold” of plaster or fiberglass is made. From that mold, the original clay model can be duplicated by pouring hot wax into the mold, coating the interior, and building up several coats. Once the wax is cooled, the mold is opened and the duplicate wax pattern emerges. This wax is then coated with layers of ceramic material to create an investment shell. Once the ceramic shell is dry it is fired in a kiln which sets the ceramic material and the wax is simultaneously melted out of the shell. Usually, the molten bronze metal is poured into the ceramic shell at this point while it is still hot.
Once the bronze in the shell is cooled, the ceramic shell is cracked, removed, and discarded. At this point the sculpture is painstakingly welded together, tooled, and finished. Sounds easy? It isn’t. The highly skilled artisans who cast and finish Shelley’s bronzes at Parks Bronze are among the best in the nation.
A step-by-step photo presentation of the casting process is displayed on the Main Menu under Foundry Tour.
How is pricing established on a bronze? Each bronzeis individually hand crafted in a rigorous, labor-intensive process which accounts for much of the basic expense. Other factors include the popularity or collectability of the artist, the size of the edition, and how many are still left in the edition. Normally, the smaller the limited edition size, the more it’s worth, and the fewer there are left in the edition, if any, will increase the value.
How will my sculpture be delivered? Many sculptures are small enough to ship through UPS. Larger sculptures are delivered by other insured commercial shipping firms. All of the bronzes are carefully packaged in boxes or crated in wood by experienced employees. Depending upon the size, weight, and complexity of the sculpture, the work will be protected with bubble wrap, foam packing, or whatever is necessary to insure safe delivery.
How do I secure a bronze sculpture that is installed out of doors? All of Shelley’s sculptures are outfitted for outdoor installation. From the foundry they have stainless steel nuts welded securely into the bronze base into which threaded stainless steel extension posts may be screwed. These extensions can then be set into concrete or mortar. If you need further explanation for your particular installation please call or email Curtiss Studios.
How do I maintain the finish of my bronze? Shelley’s bronzes have traditional patinas which are an induced oxidation of the bronze surface, requiring the application of heat and chemical acids. There is no paint, by any name, on these sculptures. The richness of the patina is further enhanced by applying a coat of semi-hard wax while the piece is still hot. It is then hand rubbed to a smooth sheen once it is cooled. All pieces intended for indoor display may be dusted with a soft cloth, wiped with a damp cloth, and lightly hand-buffed taking care not to rub through the wax down into the patina layer. To add additional sheen, spray the soft cloth with Pledge, aerosol only, and polish the surface lightly.
Outdoor pieces may need to be re-waxed annually, depending on the severity of the elements to which they are exposed. Upon request, each outdoor piece is accompanied by a fully detailed maintenance manual. Please call or email Curtiss Studios for further information.