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'Idols of Youth' - sand cast

'David Campesie' by lost-wax casting

'Fountain Frolic' by lost-wax casting

'Young Girl' in bronze/resin finish

'Cane Toad' in cold-cast bronze

Bishop Daniel Delany portrait - lost wax

Bronze has been used by man for thousands of years.

Its development indicated such a change in man's thinking and technological ability that we named an entire Age after it.

One of the facts about bronze that strikes me most is that the technology of making bronze sculpture has changed very little in the last few thousand years.

The main way that we still make bronze objects is by casting molten metal into moulds.

There are two main methods of casting molten bronze,
- 'Lost-wax' (or 'investment') casting
- Sand casting

An abbreviated explanation of each follows.

'Lost-wax' Casting
The 'lost-wax' method is of moulding an original sculpture, in order to reproduce it in wax. This reproduction is then shrouded in a heat resistant ceramic shell. The wax reproduction is melted out of the shell, ('lost',) and bronze is cast in its place.

When the bronze has cooled sufficiently, the mould is broken away to reveal the bronze sculpture.

This method accurately reproduces the surface detail of the original sculpture and works well with more complex shapes.

For a more detailed explanation, click  here.

Sand Casting
The 'sand casting' method is to make a sand mould of the original, remove the original and fill the space with bronze.

When the bronze has cooled sufficiently, the mould is broken away to reveal the bronze sculpture.

This method is less expensive but the trade-off is a less accurate surface reproduction and this process is not as amenable to complex shapes.

'Cold-cast' Bronze
A recent development is 'cold-cast' bronze. In this process an original sculpture is moulded, the original is removed and the mould is lined with resin mixed with bronze powder. The resin binds the bronze powder together and when the mould is removed an accurate rendering of the original is produced.

This is a less expensive method than 'lost-wax' but does not have the substance, feel or endurance of solid bronze.

Bronze Spraying
In this dramatic, and relatively new, process molten bronze is pressure sprayed onto a metal substrate.

Thicknesses from 1000th of an inch, up, can be achieved in this way.

I have found all of these methods useful on different projects.

However, no matter which method you use, what counts is that the final bronze sculpture embodies the artist's original thoughts and expresses them well.

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