Jesus made of Jesmonite is big hit with Church of England

Jesus on the cross by Jesmonite

A statue of Jesus made of Jesmonite and bronze will stand outside an English church for many years – and the church leaders are delighted with it.

The sculpture of Christ has been installed on the original 100 year old oak cross at St. Mary’s Church, Slough and is a poignant and striking piece welcoming visitors as they approach the church.

Reverend Scott Lamb and the church committee commissioned independent sculptor/artist Luke Preston after their two previous sculptures were stolen and vandalised.

And can you believe it, this sculpture is the first time Luke, from London, had used Jesmonite!

“I had heard of Jesmonite for many years but never got round to using it,” he said.

“It was perfect for this project because it is fire resistant, which was a requirement for this contract because local people like to place candles below the statue. It also needed to be relatively lightweight due to the condition of the wooden cross and foundation it’s placed on.

“Using Jesmonite is a similar process to fiberglassing with polyester resin, so my previous experience helped.  I got a feel for it, building up a relationship with the material and understanding how it behaves.

“I love the longevity and flexibility in terms of what can be achieved with the material metal fillers – I was surprised that a cement-based product could look so metallic and give a great bronze finish.

“I have worn many hats on this contract, and I’m happy to say it’s been well received by St. Mary’s Church Slough.”

The project took ten weeks from concept to completion, including illustration, clay modelling, moulding, casting, and finishing.

Luke began his career sculpting at Madame Tussauds studios in Acton, contributing to a number of wax figures. His sculpting ability has been utilised in varying fields, including film, television, and fashion campaigns, as well as architecture and private commissions.

He has previously sculpted costume armour for the original Wonder Woman film (vambraces worn by Gal Gadot) as well as sculpting on the latest Star Wars TV series The Acolyte, among many other films.

For this Christ sculpture, Luke made an investment mould (also known as a jacket or matrix mould) and created a two-part fibreglass jacket with a two-part silicone mould in his process.

He ground up metal shims, creating a wall for the first half of the mould, then placed 8mm of clay over the sculpt before fibre glassing over that. The resulting cavity in the fibreglass jacket was injected with silicone, and the process was repeated for the second half of the mould.

Luke then cold cast using Jesmonite Flex metal bronze backed up with AC730 to create the penny bronze finish.

A plastic like film was removed with a fine grade of wire wool – and Luke was methodical, taking time to cover the whole piece – then the sculpt was waxed and buffed.

“Film work is my bread and butter but I’d like to do more work like this and I’d definitely use Jesmonite again,” Luke added.

“With film work I get to work with many different people as part of a team and as a freelancer I get many different projects, work is always exciting.

“Working on this sculpture has made me realise that we must walk past Jesmonite all the time – in shopping centres and the like – and never know it.

“I would use it again – I would experiment with it and would like to see how it takes to patinating.”

For more information about Luke, his work, or to commission him to make a Jesmonite sculpture for you follow him on Instagram.