How Moroni Statues Are Made

“How Moroni Statues Are Made,” Friend, Feb. 1987, 20


How Moroni Statues Are Made

The first statue of Moroni placed on top of a temple was a weather vane cut out of sheet metal; the weather vane was placed atop the Nauvoo Temple. Years later Cyrus E. Dallin, a famous sculptor, made a Moroni statue for the Salt Lake Temple. This Moroni statue, probably the most famous, has fascinated all who see it. It is made of bronze and weighs about three tons. A heavy weight attached to the statue’s feet is suspended inside the temple spire where Moroni is standing so that the statue can move slightly in the wind without breaking.

In the past only certain temples have had Moroni statues on them because the decision to include them was left to the temple’s architect and whoever was Church President at the time.

Today, because the statues can be produced more quickly and inexpensively, many of the temples have a Moroni statue standing as a shining symbol of the restoration of the gospel.

The Moroni statues are made in different sizes for different temples. This particular one is for either the Portland Oregon Temple or the Las Vegas Nevada Temple.

The entire process takes three to four months, and the completed statue will weigh about 260 pounds (118 kg) and stand 13 feet (4 m) high, including its ball base.

This same construction process, except for the gold leafing, is used to make the oxen that support the baptismal fonts in the temples.

Photos by Lynn C. Taylor

1. First, a wooden profile is cut out and positioned. The profile holds up the armature, or framework, of the statue.

2. A substance is applied to the profile to make the armature. This gives body and shape to the sculpture and supports the heavy clay that will be added.

3. Karl Quilter, the sculptor, then applies the first layer of clay.

4. A second layer of clay is added, and Brother Quilter begins to shape the muscles and to carve details in the rough clay.

5. A final layer of clay forms the statue’s draping, or clothing.

6. Creating the statue layer by layer makes it look more lifelike. Close to a thousand pounds of clay are required to model each statue.

7. Lavar Walgren, who makes the cast or mold, places seams in the clay so that the mold can be taken apart easily.

8. A workman sprays polyester resin over the clay to make the mold.

9. After the mold hardens, it is pulled apart at the seams.

10. The clay is scraped out of the molds, which are then filled with fiberglass to make a hollow casting of the statue.

11. The final casting is then covered with two extremely thin layers of gold leaf. (One layer will last about twenty years.)