Bronze Casting

* What is bronze? Bronze is a metal alloy consisting mostly copper, with some tin added (to make it stronger). 
* The process of bronze casting is a complex, time-consuming and expensive undertaking that takes place in some logical consecutive phases. 

[1] The original model and the silicone mould

The artist provides the bronze foundry with the original model in clay, plaster or in any other material. The original model is then used to create a negative (silicone mould).

* Image: Silicone mould of ‘Prima Ballerina’ (© Albin Saelens)

[2] Wax model and wax corrections

Melted, synthetic wax is poured into the silicone mould. This makes a hollow positive copy with a thickness of 3 to 4 mm. The wax copy gets retouched for it to become a perfect copy of the original model.

* Image: Kobe standing next to the wax model of ‘Here I Am II’ (© Martin Leclercq – Grafisch Lokaal)

[3] Covering

The wax copy gets covered with a thin ceramic layer, that reproduces its surface. The wax is then drawn from the mould through furnace heating.

* Image: Covering at Fonderia Artistica Mariani (Pietrasanta, Italy) (© Fonderia Artistica Mariani)

[4] Casting

The metal, bronze or any other alloy, in its liquid state, gets cast inside the ceramic negative and takes on the model shape in detail.

* Image: Casting at Fonderia Artistica Mariani (Pietrasanta, Italy) (© Fonderia Artistica Mariani)

[5] Finishing

The work, coming out from casting, is divided in various sections. These sections get cleaned, welded and assembled in order to get the desired aesthetic result.

* Image: Finishing the sculpture ‘Vigorosa’ at Fonderia Artistica Mariani (Pietrasanta, Italy) (© Martin Leclercq – Grafisch Lokaal)

[6] Patina

The bronze surface gets oxidized by special chemical substances, copper based (or alike), to get the desired colour (patina). After the process of bronze casting, the sculpture gets covered with a layer of colourless wax to protect the patina.

* Image: The sculpture ‘Palestra’ gets a patina (© Albin Saelens)