This article outlines the ancient and modern practices of creating fine art using metal casting processes.
Different methods of metal casting have been utilised for centuries in order to create artworks. Ancient artefacts and sculptures have been discovered that were lovingly created using metal casting methods that are still used today.
Lost wax casting is an ancient process and was used to make sculptures as far back as 1700BC. This method was popular in ancient Egypt and China. It was also a method that was employed throughout classical Rome and Greece.
Lost wax casting has changed little over the centuries, although it is best known as ‘investment casting’ today. Usually when creating an artwork, the artist creates a mould of what they wish to be cast. Rubber is used to create a negative of the mould and wax is poured into the cavity. Once this wax is set, the rubber can be removed. A shell is then created around the wax using a ceramic mixture. Once the shell is placed inside a kiln, the wax will melt away and leave behind a cavity in which the artists chosen metal (usually bronze) can be poured and cooled to create their artwork.
This way of creating a casting is quite time consuming due to the nature of making fine art from scratch in a studio. It is slightly different from the way that we create our investment castings which are on a more industrial scale. However, if artwork needs to be mass produced for the consumer market, our foundries can deliver large numbers of castings at a much faster rate. Either way of doing this is a way of creating an impressive artwork. They both offer a way of meeting the different requirements of individual artists.
Sand Casting is another metal casting process which is still used today as a method of creating fine art. The earliest example of a sand casting that has been found dated back to 200BC and was cast in China. Sand castings created in a studio are created in much the same way as they are in large foundries, just on a smaller scale. The artist will create a replica of their envisioned finished piece and place it in a box with two halves surrounded by compacted sand. When the replica is removed, a cavity of the shape will remain and the artist’s chosen metal will be poured into this to create the casting.
Again, our foundries can produce artworks on a mass scale in a cost effective way that would be ideal for those who are wishing to branch out into selling their items to a larger audience.
Although castings are often used for industrial applications, metal casting has and continues to be an exacting and popular way of creating ancient and modern art.
Our methods of casting manufacturing and their processes are explained in step by step guides or diagrams on the following pages: Investment Casting, Sand Casting.