Franco Vianello

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The Lost-Wax Process

Standing Californio

Bronze castings are made through the lost wax process.

The artist usually creates the sculpture in clay or wax. A flexible rubber mold is made from the artist's
original. Molten wax is then poured into the rubber mold (negative) producing a wax casting of the sculpture.

This wax is touched up to match the original or may be changed slightly.

Wax rods are attached to the wax sculpture to allow the wax to be melted out. Funnels are attached to receive the molten bronze.

For smaller sculpture, the wax is coated with several layers of a liquid refractory ceramic that becomes a hard mold (ceramic shell) and will withstand molten bronze.

For larger sculpture, the wax is contained in a massive mold of plaster/sand investment.

The ceramic shell and the investment molds must be fired in a kiln to bake the ceramic or investment and melt out all the wax model leaving a cavity (lost wax).

Bronze is melted at 2100 degrees Fahrenheit and poured into the investment mold cavity. We use a rich bronze alloy that is 91-96% copper.

After the bronze has cooled, the ceramic shell or investment mold is broken away to expose the bronze sculpture.

The bronze is then cleaned. Grinding and welding to blend the surface texture is known as chasing.

The chased bronze is treated with chemicals and heat to give color or patina.

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