The Incredible Making of Climbing Sculptures


Groups are engaged in activities that require cooperation and teamwork to achieve goals. What better way to bring this important idea to life than with some incredible art?

After writing about Bill Starke’s incredible climbing sculptures, I knew I had to get in touch with him to find out more. What’s his creative process like? What materials does he use?

What first led him to start creating climbing sculptures? “I’m interested in the journey,” he tells us. “We are all climbing to a new level in life. It could be spiritually, materially, physically, etc. I wanted to create sculptures that celebrate the struggle and the achievement of making the climb.”

Starke’s sculptures take about 3 to 6 months to design, sculpt and cast. “It begins with the concept,” he explains. “Next, a scale model or maquette is created. The sculpture is formed of clay. A mold of the sculpture is made so waxes can be poured. The foundry attaches sprues to the wax parts. The sprued waxes are coated in a ceramic shell. The shell is fired, melting the wax and leaving its exact impression in the hardened shell. This is where the term ‘lost wax’ casting is derived.

“For this project (as seen below), aluminum was chosen for its light weight. The nine figures were cast in aluminum, patinated a rich brown, and mounted on the wall.”


The figure is sculpted over a wire armature


Making the silicone rubber mold


Spruing cast wax parts at the foundry


Pouring the aluminum, the molten metal is a beautiful pinkish silver color


Attaching the colored ropes on site



Finished installation

Other Climbing Installations:



Bill Starke’s website



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