Fast forward 40-some years to our brief stay in Loveland, CO. We drove past the house where Hans lived in 1971 - 1972 and also discovered that the foundry where his dad worked those many years ago offered tours. Art Castings of Colorado is one of the largest art casting foundries in the US and they bring you right up to the action throughout the foundry, teaching about the "lost wax" process along the way.
Here's how a bronze or stainless steel sculpture is made...
An artist creates a sculpture, usually in clay or wax. A mold is made from the art piece by covering the original in liquid rubber, then applying plaster for support. Wax is poured into the mold and, when cool, the rubber is pulled off producing a hollow sculpture. The wax sculpture is cleaned up using a variety of tools to produce an exact duplicate of the original sculpture.
Next, wax gates, or sprues, are attached to the piece as avenues for the molten metal to flow into the piece. Then a ceramic shell is built up around the wax by repeated dippings into a slurry and coating the slurry with fine sand. The completed shell is kiln fired and the wax is melted (lost) from the shell.
Once the ceramic shell is emptied of wax, it is reheated to 1600 degrees and molten metal is poured in at about 2000 degrees. Once cooled, the ceramic shell is removed with a pneumatic hammer and extensive sandblasting is done. If it's a large piece, it is created in multiple parts and the parts must be welded together.
Many of the workers in the foundry are artists themselves, and it is evident in the detailed finishing work that must be done to get to the final finished product.
|Here a worker pours wax into a mold|
|In the Wax Chasing area the wax is made to look like the original.|
|Ceramic shells are built up around the wax parts.|
|In this kiln, the fired cermics are white (in front), and in the back are yellow ceramics ready to be fired.|
|Kendra tells us about the finishing process.|
She is standing next to a piece of a giant horse being welded together. It will be about 30 feet high.
|This is a mockup of the giant horse/Indian sculpture.|
|Most of the large pieces here will be part of the giant horse and Indian sculpture.|
Walking the sculpture garden and the doing the foundry tour in one day was a perfect way to learn about and appreciate this unique form of art.