First formulated in the 1930s not for art but for industry, acrylic resin was adopted by artists as a new medium and, after years of experimentation, successfully cast in 1982. The translucence of fine art acrylic allowed artists to incorporate a “fourth dimension” – the play of light in and through the sculpture. Still being developed as an artistic medium, acrylic is a polymer known also as Lucite. It is more lightweight, stronger and clearer than glass and actually more difficult to work with and more expensive per cubic inch than the classic bronze medium.

To create a fine art acrylic sculpture, the artist first works in a material such as clay, plaster or epoxy. Sculpting what in the finished piece will be a luminescent play of light and changing shapes has been described as “working within a prism to anticipate every light refraction.” And the artist must sculpt a perfect original, because the work, once cast, cannot have material added to the final version, unlike bronze.

The completed original is used to create a flexible mold. Carefully formulated premium Lucite is then melted to the consistency of cold honey and poured under pressure into the mold. After curing under heat and pressure for about a week, the new sculpture emerges opaque and ready for hand-finishing by the artist, who then sands and polishes the surface to create clear areas, and frosts other areas by blasting the sculpture with a mixture of glass and aluminum.

A fine art acrylic sculpture can stand alone or work in combination with bronzes and other art. It can be placed in a window for sunlight to pass through or under lights directed at the piece or on a pedestal that lights the sculpture from below. Each illumination lends a new and different effect. Fine art acrylic, infused with light, whether sunlight or incandescent, can give an ethereal feel to the room amid artworks in other mediums. Susan Bahary consults with her patrons on the purchase of pedestals and the lighting technique they wish to have.

The bold yet extremely delicate qualities of this medium can evoke powerful yet tender emotions. Susan’s collectors have described her fine art acrylic works as “graceful, unique and full of life.” They say they “feel a spirit or soul emanating from the animals that speaks to them of their own ideal.”