Here is footage of the excellent bronze pour I conducted with my sculpture grads last Friday. For anyone unfamiliar with metal casting, here is some background on this process.
Bronze casting begins with artists creating a wax sculpture, also known as a pattern. The pattern is first encased in a mold made of plaster and sand mixed with water. Next, the mold is heated in a kiln for two days. This traditional method of bronze casting is known as “lost-wax casting”, because the original wax pattern melts out of the mold as it is heated, leaving a hollow cavity that will be filled with molten metal.
In preparation for the bronze pour, metal is melted in a furnace. As the metal is becoming molten, the hot molds are taken out of the kiln and placed in a sand pit near the furnace. Before casting metal, everyone dons protective gear to protect against the extreme heat. Teamwork is essential in a bronze pour, so once everyone is suited up, the team goes through a dry run of the procedure.
When it’s time for casting bronze, a crucible filled with molten metal is lifted out of the furnace with tongs. The crucible is then placed into a pouring device called a shank. Two team members operate the shank to pour metal into the molds, while another person uses a chain to raise and lower the device. After all the molds are poured, the crucible is placed back into the furnace. Once the molds have cooled off for a day, they are broken apart to reveal the castings and students grind, file, sand, and polish the bronze to create finished works of art.