Bronze casting on the cheap – No. 5

Resin mold

Not ready for prime time

You made the simple sculpt; you’re ready to cast, but, the budget says no. There is an option: resin cast.

The resin cast is less expensive because there is not any wax work, no investment shell to make, no bronze metal is needed, the chasing of resin is simpler, the final finish can be as simple as paint.

If you were planning on multiple copies you would have needed the mold. If you had sculpted in wax you wouldn’t need the mold. Cost: often on small pieces the mold for work is about the same as the metal work. It is a chance to see what the final piece will look like.

EZ-On has a plethora of how to videos to walk you through a simple mold making expercise. You can pour your of plastic resin, now you have a casting. Most foundries are more than capable of resin casting.

Like the results, ready for bronze, you have a reason to call the foundry. Want to save a bit more? Pour your own wax in the mold then clean it up to the point of gating ready. Talk to the foundry. Not all waxes are created equal. The waxes are meant to be burnt out in the investment process, thus, some waxes are better than others.

Realize there may be some trepidation by the foundry when you ask them to cast from a mold they didn’t make, or a wax they didn’t make, but with an expectation by the customer it will be perfect. Talk to the foundry and get them involved early. The foundry’s expertise can be invaluable.


Bronze Casting on the Cheap – No. 4

Pouring metal

The metal
The one thing that many artists seem to obsess too long over is trying to use cheaper metal. “How much less for aluminum?” or “How much less for another metal?” are common questions. Let’s do the math.

• Full size figure for mold, cast, and finish is about $20,00.
• It weighs about 400 pounds
• Bronze at $4.00 per pound is $1,600 of metal
• The metal = 8% of the total cost.

In the end, the amount you are saving is such a small percentage to the total effort you are putting out to create this work of art.

You cast your art in metal because you want it to last for centuries, so why go “cheap” and only have it last a few decades? Some other advantages of bronze is it is easy to weld, finish and patina. Though aluminum is a cheaper metal, it corrodes if the art is to be installed outdoors. Also, it takes a specialist to weld and finish aluminum and the finishes are more expensive, so you’ll be eating up any small savings you may have gained. In fact, often, you’ll be spending more in overall costs than if you elected to use bronze in the first place.

So, if you want to really save money and have your piece last more than a couple of decades, then bronze is the “value” material to use.

Bronze Casting on the Cheap – No. 3

Bronze Star

Sculpting Texture
One thing that surprises many of those who have not worked on a bronze sculpture before is the cost impact of various types of texture you can put onto the surface.

On the artistic side of texture we know that it has a huge effect on the finished piece. Texture can create a dramatic emotional connection we all strive for but as a foundry it can create a large financial burden when budgets are tight.

The foundry’s metal finishers should be equipped to replicate textures that are created with standard sculptural tools. We have seen artists become enthralled with the texture they created by using the spork from the fast food restaurant down the street. Now there is a challenge; how to be able to replicate spork, then to do it within a budget.

If you want to create the foundry/artist working relationship, do not be afraid to ask. Communicate your preferences and ask them what theirs are. The foundry may steer you towards a quicker, easier or less expensive solution. The goals should be aligned in creating a piece that all the stakeholders proud of and that creates emotional attachment.

Bronze Casting on the Cheap – No. 2

Sincerus Welding

This is the second of a series “Bronze Casting on the Cheap”.  Working in bronze has never been cheap.  I came to the realization that The Foundry can create the most time, cost, frustration, saving of all.

This series is intended to help those who may want to try their hand at creative a piece of lasting bronze sculpture.

Second chapter: Choice of foundry ….. Creating the relationship …… being able to speak the foreign language of Foundry.

If your foundry is a Front Door / Back Door Foundry wait for part 3 of the series.  The Front Door / Back Door Foundry – Takes your piece and a deposit check at the front door, calls you when they finish, you meet them at the back door with a check for the balance and a finished piece (which you hope is right).

This could be a long text book on how make your life simple but there are 3 key factors in dealing with the art foundry
• Understanding the process
• Art vs Production
• Being able to verbalize the end vision

What is your time worth?  What is your cost of education?

Understanding the process
Most artists that come through the door have the basic understand the steps required to create a piece of bronze statuary.  Each foundry will have skills, expertise, and knowledge that is different from the next.  It is important that a relationship, a trust, and understanding is established in order for the foundry understands the goals and vision for the end piece.  Without the “cover your ass” factor is added in.  The foundry’s perspective, the dollar always never seem to be enough and from the artist’s perspective way too much.

The end goal is that artist, foundry, and end consumer are all happy with the end piece.

Like any home project there are thing that are easy and things that require a level of skill.  Like the home projects; how much time, money, and frustration are you ready to endure.

If the foundry is looking for a long term relationship they should be willing to walk you through the steps to the point you understand what is required to accomplish a satisfactory result.

The foundry steps we find that we have seen done by the artist:
• Mold making
• Wax model making
• Wax chasing
• Cutting the wax and gating*
• Metal chasing
• Final Patina

The foundry will insist on
• Being part of the wax dissection and gating design
• Providing the metal
• Making the ceramic investment
• Pouring the metal
• Preliminary removal of all gates & runners

*Because the liability of having a good pour falls on the shoulders of the foundry gating by the artist typically is modified prior to investment.

Visit the foundry often.  Establish that relationship.  Communicate your vision.  Those 3 item will minimize the “cover your ass factor” that are added because of too many generalities and added costs.  Remember – your foundry needs to speak artist / and you need to speak foundry.

Bronze Casting on the Cheap – No. 1

Artist Clay

This is the first of a series “Bronze Casting on the Cheap”.  Working in bronze has never been cheap. One of the main reasons our client base is generally older established artist.  A not so unusual progression has been from establishing themselves as a painter; then being commissioned by one of their patron to turn the painted object into bronze.

This series is intended to help those who may want to try their hand at creative a piece of lasting bronze sculpture.

First chapter: Choice of subject ….. Keep It Simple
• Single figure or object
• Minimal undercuts
• Small – make it fit in a shoe box
• No peripheral objects – big hat, outstretched limbs, holding large objects
• Can be hollowed out and cast hollow to save weight; Aim for the ¼” thick wall
• Have an idea – want an opinion – run it past your foundry

Consider these objects: Sitting animal, robed figure, just a head (the body can be added later), better yet just the face.