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ArtPrize: The Story of Rain, Chapter 8; Bronze

The Alchemist Sculpture Foundry in Kalamazoo Michigan is owned by Brent and Brett. These guys really know the business of bronze casting and can do it all. I will show you the process with lots of pics. 
If you want to know more watch the Utube video listed at the end of this article. I chose the video because of the narrator's cool accent. He sounds so enlightened and artsy!
Here's Brent showing a rubber mold. This is the first step in the casting process. The rubber mold is applied to the original sculpture and it is called the 'mother mold' which means it is the original and can be reused to make more of the same sculpture.

 The hot wax is poured into the rubber mother mold and after it hardens the rubber shell is removed and saved. The wax is then examined before proceeding. Brent and Brett show the wax image after the mother mold cast is removed.

I worked on the wax to make sure the image was exactly right before the next step. I added and subtracted wax as needed. The sculpture was cut into 5 different pieces.
 Next the wax pieces are dipped in liquid glass. This is a ceramic mixture that coats the wax in several layers. It is dried and then baked in a kiln to a hard impervious finish. The lost wax method is what it is called because the wax melts away leaving just the ceramic mold.
 Brett shows a piece that is ready for the bronze pour. This is from a different sculpture. A styrofoam cup is attached to the wax and covered in ceramic also. You can see it at the top of this piece. That is where the molten bronze is poured.

This is the Crucible. The place where the bronze is heated up to 2000 degrees (I think….really hot anyway!!) Brett is holding a brick of bronze.
 After the bronze is poured and cooled off the ceramic shell is broken off. Sandblasting is used to clean the ceramic out of detail areas and to polish the bronze.
The pieces are then welded together and polished so the entire sculpture looks seamless. You can't see where the sculpture was cut apart. Brent is using chemicals and fire to burn the patina into a small  bronze sculpture that he designed.
Here is the finished sculpture, Rain, at the Alchemist Sculpture Foundry. Notice the different coloring that Brent used for the leaf, the skin and the hair. (you might notice this photograph is spliced because I made a mistake setting the camera)
That is it and now this sculpture, Rain, stands forever at the entrance of Mary Free Bed Hospital. Whew! What a job. I'm glad that one is done! Thanks to all the people that helped out with this project. See Chapter 4. I think there were over 20 of you. Next I'll post some new photos of Rain on site by Bob Pearson. We are waiting for the weather to clear a bit because there's over 2 feet of snow on the ground now.
Here is a Utube video that shows the bronze casting process. Enjoy!

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