Backyard Bronze

Co-operating OppositesNothing compares to the look and feel of real bronze, one of the first metals worked by man. I wish everyone could own a bronze, so I do my own foundry work to keep my prices within range of the casual collector as well as the connoisseur.

Flogiston Foundry is the name of my backyard studio. I use it only for the casting of my own sculptures, not for the production of work by other sculptors. The equipment I use was built by me and my father, Bill Stephenson, a retired aeronautical engineer, who passed away a few years at the ripe old age of 90. 

The making of a bronze sculpture.

First, I make an original sculpture using an oil-based clay which I can re-use.clay work220

I make a flexible mold around the sculpture and pour a plaster “mother” mold around that for support. After removing the clay I pour melted wax into the cavity and allow it to harden.wax in mold220

Then I remove the wax copy and clean and sign it, and prepare it for “spruing”. Wax sprues and vents will allow bronze to fill the final mold and let gasses escape.wax work220

Next I dip the wax in a silicon suspension and cover it with a special sand. This step is repeated at least six times, allowing the coat to dry each time, in order to build up a ceramic shell which can withstand the heat and weight of molten bronze.

dipping in slurry220

The wax is then burned out of the mold (hence the name, “lost wax”).
mold_burnout220I melt the bronze in a graphite crucible using a home-made propane burner, invert the molds in an insulating material, and pour bronze into the space left by the wax.crucible220

When the bronze has cooled I break off the mold, saw off vents and sprues then polish, patina and lacquer the sculpture.

breaking mold220

That’s all there is to it!

Panther--6"x 9" x3"

Panther–6″x 9″ x3″