In most of my lifespan my arts was mostly dedicated the visual arts(Performing arts was never my strong point.) .These include, 2d and 3d art. My 3d art so far included just about every media humanly possible to shape things exept bronze casting,and that is mainly due to the following:
1-Its expensive

2-Dangerous, (If you cast yourself).For example:To walk around with a red hot crucible at 2250 Fº (and very heavy ) is no childsplay.You can purchase casting tools and equipment online but its much more fun to make your own,look at the forum. The number one thing to remember is to be very safe. Bronze melts at 1750 F and pour (liquides)at 2250 Fº. At these temperatures It is dangerously hot to be near a 10 pound molten crucible, and contact with water or moisture would create a huge explosive reaction. Not even to mention contact with skin!....ooouuuch!! DO NOT ATTEMPT WORKING AT THESE TEMPERATURES WITHOUT ANY PROTECTION AND KNOWLEDGE.

3-Time consuming, For example this what it entails:
Resized JPEG graphic Here are the basics in 9 steps.:
•You can carve/sculpt your original sculpture piece in just about any material and then cast it in bronze. This takes multiple steps, and you have to make a mold of your original piece without ruining it. The masterpiece at this stage is called a plug. From this plug we will be making the outer shell or mold . The clay(wood foam etc.) sculpture/plug is sent to the foundry so that an exact replica can be made in bronze.
•The first thing they do at the foundry is make a shell mold of the sculpture/plug. This is done by applying multiple layers of liquid rubber over the clay which creates a thick flexible rubber skin mold. The rubber is then coated in liquid or layered fiberglass, which will harden into a supportive mother shell to hold the thick skin ridgid in place.(Mothermold).
•Once the fiberglass hardens, it is carefully removed from the sculpture, usually in two or four main pieces. The fiberglass mold is then put back together with the rubber skin inside of it and turned upside down. The cavity(where the plug was) is filled with with molten wax and leave to set. The mother mold and rubber skin is removed , we now have an exact replica of the clay sculpture/plug in wax.
•The next step is gating. Wax rods, called gates/sprues, are attached to the wax sculpture. These gates/sprues will create cavity channels in the final mold,which allows for the molten bronze to be poured into the mold. Gates also leaves an escape for air trapped air pockets. The whole botton wil be closed and all gates leads to the main sprue or pour hole.
•The only material that can withstand the high temperatures of molten bronze is ceramic. The wax replica is then dipped into a vat of thick ceramic slurry. As the vat vibrates, there is a build up of ceramic around the wax plug that will be the final mold for the bronze.
•The burnout step is removing the wax from the mold(Process known as lost wax casting). The ceramic mold is placed into a kiln to cure, the wax melts and runs out of the channels, this leaves the inside hollow, ready for the bronze to cast into.
•Small bronze ingots are melted to 2200 Fº to get it to a liquid state and poured into the ceramic mold.
•After cooling , the ceramic shell is broken and the gates are trimmed off.
•The BRONZE SCULPTURE is then ready for the finishing. The gate stubs,unwanted blemishes and bubble spheres are removed. Polished and textured if desired, a patina is applied to color the bronze. A final transparent coat of wax or varnish is then applied to protect the finished sculpture.
CONCLUSION
To make a bronze sculpting project more viable for artists they will often do a limitid edition/run of a sculpture. Depending on the quality of the rubber skin/mold one mold will produce around a few hundred waxes. Thats why they always try to preserve the original clay sculpture /plug.
The amount of reproduction/editions will determine how exclusive the sculpture is and that in turn will influence the final price of each piece. As you can see, to do all this for one sculpture is very expensive and a timely process. A small one edition 18 inch high bronze sculpture can easilly cost tens of thousands of dollars ,sprinkled with a little fame and the price goes up to hundreds of thousands.
The process is repeated for each individual piece. The specific number of the piece, such as 85/300 means it is the 85th piece form a total of 300 pieces.
This will give you more of a appreciation next time yousee a bronze sculpture.
Thats all the steps when you send it of to the refinery. But as I said "what would life be without risks and adrenaline." So, Next time I am updating we will be looking into this to see how we can do this ourselves D.I.Y. ....


"Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.
~ Josh Billings"


Last updated:11/12/2010