This past week we went to our foundry to drop off waxes for upcoming projects and pick up the bronze castings that were completed. Our foundry is an hours drive in both directions from the studio. Since reopening after a several month state mandated shutdown of all non essential businesses this past spring, the foundry has been inundated with orders from all their clients, including our studio. Due to this they were running with much longer lead times than usual and we had been anxiously waiting for several castings to be completed. To our surprise and delight, when we arrived they had all the castings completed that we had in production. After barely being able to fit all the bronzes into our car, we returned to the studio energized to get to work finishing the bases.
Every base we create at our studio is made completely by hand in the same way that a bronze statue is created. Using molds to pour waxes, each wax is cleaned by hand to remove mold seams and fill air bubbles before taking it to the foundry. Karen, the person in charge of waxes, then prepares the wax to be encased in a ceramic shell – a dipping process that builds up layers that will become the mold. Creating the shell takes over a week as each of the 13 layers of slurry and silica sand much be completely dry before adding the next layer. Once complete the mold is placed into a furnace to harden the shell and melt out the wax. The next step in the process is the actual bronze casting. Here is a 2019 video of the team at our foundry pouring bronzes https://castingcreations.business.site/posts/2456753793378200669?hl=en
Once cooled to room temperature, the ceramic shell is broken to reveal a raw bronze. Each wax makes one bronze, so if there is a flaw in the shell, the entire process must be restarted from the beginning. The bronze is then chased (cleaned up) by Dan, the person in charge of metal finishing and fabrication at the foundry. To create the Shell Urn base shown above, four castings are needed – each foot is cast individually and the body is a separate casting. Dan attaches the feet to the casting and it is ready to return to our studio for us to complete.
Several more days of meticulous work at our studio are be needed to finish the base and have it ready for our client. We create the light clusters at our studio and all the individual parts need to be finished with a patina, a multi-step process. Finally, all the parts are assembled and the base is wired and is ready to support a shade.