How Moroni Statues Are Made

“How Moroni Statues Are Made,” Tambuli, June 1992, 15

Temple Issue


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.

Today, Moroni statues are made in different sizes for different temples. The entire process takes three to four months, and the completed statue will weigh about 118 kilograms and stand 4 meters 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.

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

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

  3. The sculptor then applies the first layer of clay.

  4. A second layer of clay is added, and the sculptor 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. A worker makes the cast or mold and places seams in the clay so the mold can be taken apart easily.

  8. Another worker 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 the 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.)

Photography by Lynn C. Taylor