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Art Casting Information and the Truth Behind Artistic Casting

Jun 10, 2008
Art casting is an ancient method of creating statues and sculptures that has been in practice in Meso-America, China, and Ancient Egypt since 2000 BC. The Greeks practiced it, so did the Romans, and pretty much any civilization with a strong interest in art.

Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper that has been used to make weapons and sculptures since its discovery by man. Bronze is able to fill in the fine detail of molds making it very desirable to artists. When art casting, bronze is the alloy of choice since it is both beautiful and easy to work with. There are few examples of bronze statues left from antiquity since the alloy became scarce and many of the statues were melted down for weapons and other sculptures usually for new emperors or victors.

The Lost Wax Casting process is the preferred method used when art casting. This process was used in ancient times to create bronze items. Small foundries like the type found in backyards, personnel workshops, and garages are able to use the Lost Wax Casting process with a certain amount of professionalism. Commercial foundries and professional art companies use the Lost Wax Casting process as well to create custom items and monuments. The process remains, essentially, the same since the ancient craftsmen who first pioneered the method. When used in commercial manufacturing or jewelry making, the Lost Wax Casting process is called Investment Casting.

Art casting is one of the more enjoyable reasons to fire up the furnace and get into metal casting. While most think metal casting to be strictly limited to hobbyist and historical re-enactors, casting is a popular skill and craft used by a wide range of people for varying reasons. Artists see the need to have metal casting skills as it allows the artists to have direct control over the process instead of out sourcing it to a commercial foundry. Commercial foundries that specialize in custom pieces will often charge outrageous prices for their services. Art casting on your own is often times economical and just smart.

The Lost Wax Casting process is rather simple when compared to other casting methods but it can be time consuming and attention to detail is important. The artists will start with an original piece sculpted from wax. The original can be made of other substances like clay or even metal but wax seems to be the easiest to work with. The original will be used to make the mold. If the piece to be cast is large, multiple molds will be needed. This is common in art casting and completely possible with the use of shims and keys that will allow placing the pieces together after the casting process easier. Most molds will be made out of latex or other materials to help transfer the fine detail into the mold cavity.

The original is often destroyed during the mold making process upon removal. Molten wax is poured into the mold until the desired thickness is achieved. When dry, this wax copy is removed and chased which rids the piece of imperfections and is used to combine the pieces. You will place paths for the molten metal on the wax copy. You will also place a cup or funnel at the top of the copy. This process is called spruing and is done in wax.

A ceramic shell is placed around the copy. The shell isn't really ceramic but a sand and liquid silica combination. You will repeat this step until the shell is thick enough for the piece. You will then heat the item which will melt the wax inside. The wax runs out of the shell through the paths placed during spruing.

Then comes the part for the molten bronze. The bronze is poured into the top of the hollow shell. When cool you are going to remove the shell carefully to reveal the finished product. The bronze sculpture is chased, painted, and finished up however the artists choose.

Art casting can be done with any metal or alloy. If you are going to use the Lost Wax Casting process then you do not have to stick with bronze. Try other metals until you receive the perfect look for your piece.
About the Author
Go to Metal Casting Zone to get your free ebook on Metal Casting at Metal Casting. Metal Casting Zone also has Art Casting Forum, Artistic Casting Blog and a Metal Casting Blog with daily news on Metal Casting. You can Find Metal Casting Zone at www.metalcastingzone.com.
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