ETHEL A. FURMAN & ASSOCIATES

www.glassart.net

((703) 299-0103

lisajacobs@glassart.net

210 N Union St., Suite 110

Alexandria, VA  22314

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© Copyright 1997-2018, Ethel A. Furman & Associates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

OUR LOST-WAX CASTING PROCESS, AND BRONZE SCULPTURE CARE & MAINTENANCE

Our 21 Step Bronze Process​:

(Lost-wax “Investment” Casting)

 

  1. Photographs of the Horse, Human or Dog to be cast in bronze are studied carefully for all anatomical details

  2. A wooden armature is constructed

  3. Clay is applied over the wooden armature to produce an exact duplicate of the final bronze to be cast

  4. This clay sculpture is now cut into sections

  5. Separate plaster molds are made of each section

  6. The original clay sculpture is destroyed as it is removed from the mold

  7. Rubber molds are now made of each separate section

  8. The rubber mold sections are kept supported by the plaster mold

  9. When the rubber has hardened, hot wax is poured into the rubber mold

  10. The rubber mold is kept for re-use

  11. The wax sections are then hand-finished for fine detail

  12. A final, high-heat investment mold is then made over the wax sculpture

  13. In this mold air vents are made to aid in the pouring of the molten bronze

  14. At the very high heat, the wax is burned out--volatilized

  15. Each mold section is now placed in the sand pit

  16. Bronze which is taken from the furnace at 2,200 degrees is placed into a crucible

  17. From the crucible it is poured into the high-heat investment mold. Air escapes through the vents so that there will be no bubbles in the final casting

  18. The investment mold is cut apart with machines & hand tools

  19. The separate sections are then spot welded  & then arc welded to produce the assembled sculpture

  20. The sculpture is then chased which is the process of removing all traces of welding or casting marks

  21. Finally, a patina or finish is applied using chemicals & an acetylene torch to give you the beautiful finish of your bronze sculpture

          IMPORTANT: You do not need to wax your sculpture. If you do not wax it, over the years it will develop a slightly green patina which is the result of the natural, protective oxidation of the bronze. If you wish your sculpture to have this appearance, do not wax it. However, if you wish to protect your bronze’s natural color for years to come, below is the method. Enjoy your beautiful bronze sculpture.

          All sculptures (that you wish to color-protect) should be waxed. It is a short and very inexpensive process you may easily do yourself--and is only required once per year. **Waxing is especially important if your sculpture is exposed to outdoor elements or if you live near the sea shore.**

 

Note: This process is works best during summer months (or warmest season), and during a fully sunny day with no clouds or rain forecasted.

 

          If you wish to maintain the original patina (external coloring), the best cleaner for bronze sculptures is plain soap and water. The best soap is just a small amount mild soap, like Ivory liquid dishwashing soap, and water. Avoid any soaps with scents like lemon scent or other additives that might have unknown consequences.  A hose and/or bucket of regular tap water is fine. Add just enough soap to make bubbles in the water--all you need to do is loosen the dirt from the surface. Too much soap may leave extra residue that will require more rinsing later.  

          Next, dampen a clean rag in the soapy water and wipe down the sculpture. If the piece has a lot of nooks and crannies, or bird droppings, a soft toothbrush may be useful. Once the sculpture is clean, wipe down the sculpture with clear water (not soapy) and a new rag to remove the soap residue. Use a toothbrush with clear water to clean hard to reach areas. If you have access to a hose near the sculpture this will work well to make sure the soap is completely removed. Do your best to remove all traces of soap residue.

Allow your sculpture to dry completely. This is very important, because you will see if you missed any soap residue, and the next step is to re-wax the sculpture--you don't want to trap any moisture or residue under the wax coating. Usually a sculpture is dry in a couple of hours. Hot sun helps with this. Once the sculpture is completely dry, you are ready to begin waxing.

          It is best to wax an outdoor sculpture in the heat of the day, as this allows the wax to penetrate the pores of the sculpture, resulting in a wax coating that will last longer. The best type of wax to use is plain, clear, paste wax. It usually comes in a can and is inexpensive. Do not use automotive waxes; they usually contain other cleaners that could be harmful to bronze. Also, car waxes often dry white, so if you leave any at all in little cracks or crevasses, it will dry white and look terrible, and you'll have to start all over again.

          Although there are many good brands of wax, we have listed our favorites below, which we feel all offer excellent protection:

 

  1. Renaissance Wax: Renaissance Wax is the "Cadillac" of paste waxes. This crystalline wax polish is manufactured in England and is used by museum curators around the word to protect bronzes, as well as swords and other metal artifacts. It dries very hard and very quickly. Most importantly, it is resistant to fingerprints, which makes it ideal for a sculpture that is touched or handled. We recommend using Renaissance wax if you can find it, but all the waxes we list here work well.   

  2. Trewax Clear Paste Wax: Trewax is a very hard Carnauba wax, which is extracted from Brazilian Palm Trees. One can should last you many years. It is highly recommended for its durability and versatility on light and dark patinas.

  3. Johnson's Clear Paste Wax: Johnson's Clear Paste Wax also comes highly recommended. It is best used on darker patinas, as it has been known to darken lighter colors. It also produces a nice shine when buffed.

 

          To apply, use a soft rag and/or an unused paintbrush to get into nooks and crannies of your sculpture. Apply a light coat and allow to dry. Most waxes are dry within 20 minutes. Then, buff the sculpture using a soft dry cloth or clean shoe brush. Next, apply a second coat of wax (using the same method) for extra protection. Allow to dry.

          ...Now you’re done! That wasn’t so bad. Enjoy your beautiful 100% cast-bronze sculpture worry-free, and fully protected from the elements for the coming year...and for generations upon generations to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bronze Waxing For Patina Longevity

       (only to do once per year)

The Lost-wax casting process is the same method employed by governments and museums around to world to produce their civic memorials and monumental sculptures. It is centuries old and still conisdered the best for precision and longevity. This process is incredibly tedious and labor intensive - and we are proud it is used it in all of our sculptures. Your sculpture, with minimal yearly maintenance, will not rust and crumble after 10 years...or 20, or 100. Invest in our sculptures and you have a powerful monument to enjoy for years and generations to come. Read more about Lost-wax casting here on Wikipedia.

Clay Model

Murdoch the Dog

Final Sculpture (Before Patina)

Investment Mold