Capturing motion and magic in stainless steel

You may not be familiar with the name William Chance, but if you’ve ever seen a stainless steel sculpture on social media that took your breath away, you’ve probably seen his work. William’s fabrication studio brings to life artworks conceived in the minds of artists from around the world.

By Joanne McIntyre

Sculpture-fabricator William Chance lives in Shenzhen, China, overseeing a large studio producing astonishing artworks in stainless steel, bronze, resin, fibreglass, stone and wood for artists worldwide.
“Our studio is located in the city of Shenzhen, the northern neighbour of Hong Kong,” explains William. “As a sculpture fabrication business, we have worked with artists from around the globe for over a decade”.
The convenient location is a deliberate choice as the studio ships artworks of all sizes to customers and artists. Founded in 2005, the company now employs fifty skilled staff who carefully craft artistic works in the 6900 m2 facility.
“We ship artworks to literally anywhere. Our main overseas markets are America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North America, South America, Australia etc. We accept any customised project and have the capability to work in a wide range of materials,” explains William.

Installation of ‘The Splash’ cast sculpture.

Stainless masterpieces

A whale calf and its mother sculpture.

Focusing on the stainless steel sculptures produced by the studio, William explains that he favours grades 316 and 316L stainless steel for projects. “Time and experience have shown that these grades perform well over time. We procure our materials from trusted, reliable suppliers either in Shenzhen or a neighbouring city”.
While William has an in-house team of 3D designers, most of the pieces produced in the studio are orders directly commissioned from artists.
“For commissioned items, we typically start with 3D files provided by artists in CAD, Blender and other software programs. Based on the client’s file, we create a life-size model using 3D printing, foam, or fibreglass. Laser-cut stainless steel sheets are then cut and hammered into shape before being welded together. A shaping process follows before the finished shape is polished. The final step is to apply a surface treatment.”
Depending on the size of the project, work is typically completed in around thirty working days.
The complexity and scale of some of the pieces produced are clearly challenging, and each one requires a unique approach.
“The specific challenges depend on the piece; every artist and every piece of artwork is unique. I would say that the first collaboration with an artist is the most challenging part: like driving a new car, we first need to get to know each other”.

The Deer was produced in 2020.
Another striking Willian Chance fabrication.

Attention to detail

The final polishing of the stainless steel works is a crucial part of the process; the perfect finishes required leave no room for errors and nowhere to hide fabrication mistakes.
“Our staff finish the items by hand, using grinding wheels of various sizes. The smallest is like a pencil, small enough to deal with tiny textures. We are very experienced in our work: this is our speciality”. Sometimes other challenges arise, which may take priority, explains William.
“The covid pandemic and costs are currently the most pressing concerns. If the work is small enough to fit into a shipping container, everyone is happy as it’s an economical way to deliver the piece to its final destination. However, if it’s too large for this, I need to travel to the worksite with my team, which is obviously more costly.”

For further information, see Instagram: williamsculpturechina

About this Featured Story

This Featured Story appeared in Stainless Steel World October 2022 magazine. To read many more articles like these on an (almost) monthly basis, subscribe to our magazine (available in print and digital format – SUBSCRIPTIONS TO OUR DIGITAL VERSION ARE NOW FREE) .

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