West African artisans have practiced the art form of lost wax casting through generations. In Burkina Faso, modern casters are creating a name for themselves globally with uniquely styled cast sculpture.
Tapsoba Moussa leads a team of casters in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital city. Each sculpture is handcrafted using the traditional lost wax method. Softened wax is molded and tooled to create a model of the desired product. Artisans then press clay around the wax figure–leaving a hole at the top–then allow it to dry in the sun before firing, this hardens the clay and melts away the wax. At the same time, recycled metal pieces are melted down in a crucible on the fire in preparation for casting. The molten metal is poured into the hole in the top of the clay form and allowed to cool. Once the metal has hardened, the clay is chipped away, rough edges are sanded with a rasp and the figure is polished with a slurry of sand and water. Each piece is made entirely by hand, one-of-a-kind, so owning a piece of this modern art is truly an honor!
Creating art for export provides income stability for many families connected to each informal workshop. Each artisan is highly appreciative for the sale of their creations and the ability to have reliable work, as they can meet their financial obligations and pay for their children’s schooling. The theme of education pervades Tapsoba’s creations, and many of his sculptures depict the act of reading.