Custom Bronze Castings

Written by Patty Yu
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Custom bronze castings are often commissioned to create an original sculpture paying tribute to a particular person, animal, or scene. For instance, the University of Maryland had a bronze turtle made after the school chose the diamondback terrapin as a mascot. People sometimes have custom bronze castings made of their children's shoes, handprints, footprints, or even commission a portrait bust.

Although custom bronze castings can be quite expensive, the resulting artwork can be passed down from generation to generation. Bronze sculptures are practically indestructible, so the sculptures are difficult to damage. Museum-quality custom bronze statues become family heirlooms that not only hold great meaning for the family, but may also appreciate in value.

The Making of Custom Bronze Castings

To create museum quality bronze sculptures, an artist must first mold the subject out of clay. Parents might have their children's hands or feet pressed into clay, which a foundry turns into bronze plaques. A bronze bust may require the subject to model for the artist as he or she sculpts the clay. Once the clay model is finished, it is used to make a rigid rubber mold.

The rubber mold is intended to create a second model, this time out of wax. Artists can easily correct any imperfections on the wax before moving to the next step, which is to make a ceramic shell. After dipping the wax in a ceramic material and firing it at an extremely high temperature, the wax melts away, leaving just the hard shell. Molten bronze pours into the shell and cools. Any imperfections can then be fixed with polishing, sandblasting, heating, and welding.


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