Buddha Polycarve

Background and Inspiration

Prince Siddhartha Gautama was the prince of modern day Nepal, he decided to give up his wealthy lifestyle in order to live 'the middle path' meaning he neither deprived himself from his needs nor lived in excess. 

During my time at Greater Brighton Metropolitan, I needed to write an essay for one of my modules and I decided to do it on the representation of Buddha in the Aniconic Phase and Post Aniconism.
From having done so much research and visiting a lot of garden centres (which tend to always have at least two Buddha statues, for some reason) I decided that I wanted to make my own, full size Buddha statue... just not carved out of stone.

Process and Materials

I learnt the hard way (from a previous project) the importance of making a maquette so this is what I started by doing for my Buddha polycarve.

I decided to sculpt, mould and cast so that the final model would be more durable than if I had just sculpted out of an oil based clay and left it at that. 


For the actual polycarve I wanted to use Celotex due to the fact that you can use resin and fibreglass straight onto it and it doesn't dissolve (unlike polystyrene) However, this material was not available to me and so I used Polystyrene instead and Jesmonite to cover it.
I am currently in the process of sanding the jesmonite back to make my Buddha look as smooth as possible. My plan is to then do a couple of layers of black paint before dry brushing him in a deep gold/bronze colour.
My aim is to make it look as though it is an old and worn statue.

Problems and Solutions

So far, there haven't been too many issues. What I have taken away from this project so far is that I don't enjoy working with jesmonite. I believe this was the wrong material for this specific project. 

When I was sandin the Jesmonite back, I realised very quickly that this material is not very 'strong' in the way resin would have been. While I was sanding, bits of polystyrene kept becoming exposed. After speaking to other people it was clear that there were 2 main options; 1. use gelcoat to cover the carve or 2. use sawdust in the jesmonite to make it thicker which means I would be able to sand it more without exposing the polystyrene. I decided to go with the gelcoat.

Research Bibliography


1. https://www.tripsavvy.com/big-buddha-hong-kong-tourist-guide-1535981
2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/discovering-the-myriad-faces-of-buddha-on-the-occasion-of-buddha-purnima/as63975410.cms

3. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/38646

4. https://www.statuesandsculptures.co.uk/large-garden-sculptures-stone-buddha-head-statue.html

5. https://onefold.uk/garden-shop/sleeping-welsh-buddha-statue/