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Casting Bronze November 19, 2015

Posted by anagasto in art, history.
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Start by modelling a figure in wax or clay ….

and take it to a foundry.

1. At the foundry they will bury your work in liquid plaster.

2. When the plaster sets up and gets hard, they carefully cut it open along lines planned beforehand.

3. They take out the clay or the wax and thereby destroy your work, but printed into the hard plaster there is now a perfect negative of your figure.

4. They paint the negative with a thin layer of wax and again fill in plaster.

5. Finally they melt out the wax layer and pour in bronze.

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In the past, bronze was much more expensive than stone, as it was needed for tools and weapons.

When a town was in danger, no one thought twice about melting down some bronze statues to make cannons. They even melted down one of Michelangelo’s works.

:-) It was a statue of Pope Julius. They turned it into an artillery gun and called the gun “La Julia”.

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In bronze you can do what could never be done in stone : things up in the air, things defying gravity or dancing on the point of a needle.

If you do a horse in stone, you will have to do him leaning against a wall or held up by a treetrunk, because stone legs  would never support such a big bulky body.

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People who learn how to model find that out the hard way.

They model their first horse or cat holding him up in the air, and when finally at the end of the day they set him down on a board, what happens?

:-(

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In bronze you can also do more detail than would be inviting to see in stone.

There is a famous door in Florence called “del Baptisterio” where a sculptor spent his entire life depicting every little Bible story he had ever heard of:

..   …

There is a 1.82 MB photo at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/Paradies_tuer_florenz.jpg

and a 10.7 MB photo at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Puerta_del_Baptisterio_de_Florencia.jpeg

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Persee-florence

Cellini’s famous Perseus:

Bronze casting is a technically difficult 5 step operation.

Sculptors usually leave it to the technicians. And the technicians often botch a job.

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Perseus wiki commons

Here is again Cellini’s Perseus in Florence, Italy.

Cellini cast it himself, very nearly ruined it, and set his house afire.

It is probably the world’s most famous bronze statue, along with Andersen’s little mermaid  sitting on the seashore in Denmark :

What is the name of the sculptor?

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That is typical. Sculptors often remain anonymous, even if their work can be seen on the town square:

not Rodin's thinker (c)  ghD

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Have one

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Bronze and Cast Stone

At present, both bronze and cast stone figures can be reproduced in large numbers.

In some places the law  allows up to 8 copies to be sold as “original work”.

Besides, it is legal to sell dozens or hundreds of copies as “numbered”, for instance 34/90 meaning  that it is the 34th copy of 90 that are being made.

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Most people have seen a copy of Rodin’s muscular Thinker who looks like he needs a lot of strength to keep thinking.

It’s late Romanticism and there has to be drama and lots of passion.

Why is it so famous?

I didn’t know there are about 30 or 40 thinker versions distributed all over the world and all made by Rodin himself as you can see at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Thinker_sculptures.

He must have really liked the subject.
Maybe every museum wanted to have one for its front lawn. And universities, too.  It suggests that thinking is real hard work.

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Cast stone

It is a mix made of of cement and  stone dust.

Ever since the Middle Ages it has been used as a building material and for cemetery and garden decoration:

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Benlliure’s little known  statue of the general and his horse is at the Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain.
The great photo heading this post has been released into public domain by

Daderot:
General Arsenio Martínez-Campos
Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid
at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:General_Arsenio_Mart%C3%ADnez-Campos,_Parque_del_Buen_Retiro,_Madrid.JPG

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Comments»

1. Carl D'Agostino - June 2, 2012

I understand that when the Colossus at Rhodes fell the bronze was soon looted so quickly any attempts at restoration was rendered impossible. It was so massive it is said that it contained most of the available bronze in the then known world.

2. cantueso - June 5, 2012

I did not know this story. Thanks a lot! I am going to look it up to see if it could be added to the post.

3. albahaca - June 5, 2012

That Colossus was one of the wonders of the Old World! It was over 30 meters tall and stood for more than 50 years, but there was an earthquake and it broke at its knees. The king offered to pay for its reconstruction, but the oracle of Delphi said that the people had offended a god, and so they declined to rebuild the statue.

The debris were on the ground for 800 years, and they were seen by later historians and tourists, and one of the historians says that people could put their arms around one of the fallen thumbs.

The memorial had to do with the wars that broke out after the death of Alexander the Great, when his generals divided up his empire.


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