Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The transformation of clay to bronze or any metal is magical in my mind. This is one part of the process where an artist has to find a foundry they are comfortable with and like letting go of a child, trust.

You deliver your cleaned reconstructed wax to the foundry and in a months time a ceramic shell is formed around the wax leaving sprues and vents for escaping gases and cups for pour holes.

The shell is formed similar to breading a piece of fried chicken (see I am showing my southern roots) you start with fine almost sand and repeat coating layer and layer until you have your finished mold. The last ends up looking more shell like than sand.

The mold is then laid in an oven for the melt out process where all the wax is removed leaving the negative in the mold.

You are then ready for the pouring of the molten metal (at 2300 degrees) done usually by two people carrying a crucible and poured into your mold sitting pour spout up in the sand ready to accept the hot metal. This is very exciting to watch because the foundry people are so talented, (they are also clad in protective gloves and aprons to protect from the heat and possible splash) I use Madd Castings of Berthoud, Colorado and have never had anything strange go wrong...very talented people and artists themselves. I know there are also foundries in Loveland, Colorado that take your clay from start to finished piece and do all the work required. (Anyone that goes to the Loveland Sculpture Invitational in Aug.  would enjoy the tour that one of the foundries gives, Art Castings).

Finally the mold or ceramic is chipped away exposing your work in its tangle of vents and cups often not even recognizable to the piece you gave them in wax. All the excess material must be removed or "chased" as it is called.  The bronze is worked much like the wax was to refine the surface and repair blemishes except with a grinder, saw, welding torch or tig.  Again this is where horns, ears or legs possibly get welded back on your piece. Also this is where hardware gets added to the base of your piece in order for it to be connected to the chosen base.

No comments:

Post a Comment