Sculptor and Psychotherapist, Dr.
Lost Wax CASTING THE BRONZE MONUMENT
Wax Casting Technique
Into Manageable Pieces
Grinding and Chasing
Lost Wax Casting Technique
The final bronze of the Monument
is created through the "lost wax casting technique."
In the simplest terms: with the lost wax process an
image is first sculpted in wax. Through a casting
process the wax image is replaced with bronze. In
this casting process an exact wax image of the sculpture
is covered in a ceramic shell and then the wax is
melted away in a oven. The hollow cavity of the ceramic
shell or ludo mold left from the melted away wax is
filled with bronze.
The original wax that the Dr. Irving
created for casting is lost during the melting away
phase of this casting process, hence the name "lost
wax casting" process. The original sculpted square,
however, is preserved by first making a permanent
rubber mold from the wax square, before it is covered
in the ceramic shell. The original art therefore is
never "lost", and can be reproduced perfectly
from the rubber mold.
CAST IN BRONZE
Reaching out and looking up.
Embraced, enfolded, insecure.
Palm extended, fingers touch
Connecting at our soul.
Believed and relieved
To speak, to be visible
To be me.
Into Manageable Pieces
The "Reaching Out" Monument
size is much too large to fit through the studio loading
dock doors at its original Birch Avenue studio home
or at Dr. Irvings studio at BLP Bronze on Bartley
Avenue in Toronto. Also, the finished size of the
Monument is much too large and too heavy for the foundry
technicians to move it around for the initial bronze
casting process. To deal with the Monument's cumbersome
weight and size, before it leaves the studio the finished
styrofoam and wax will be cut into approximately 70
cubes no larger than 30 x 40 inches on the sculpted
Each of these pieces is in six quilt
squares or cut in sections of the sleeves, heads or
hands of the two "Reaching Out" figures.
The parting lines for the pieces is made along the
centre lines of the quilt borders. When Dr. Irving
sculpted these borders he designed them to allow for
the technicalities of cutting them up in wax and welding
them back together once they become bronze.
The 70 styrofoam and wax cubes were
taken by truck to BLP Bronze in Toronto. BLP Bronze
has been generious in making a donation of foundry
casting for this first National Monument to survivors
of child abuse.
"Reaching Out" Monument
figure is taking place at the
BLP Foundry in Toronto
over 2005 and 2006.
In the foundry the sculpted
wax surface is covered in a ceramic material called
casting investment to create a ludo mold or ceramic
shell mold. The investment is something like plaster,
but it dries into a hard ceramic-like shell. This
rigid shell can withstand the high heat of molten
bronze and the foundry burnout ovens and can allow
the gases to escape that are emitted when coming
into contact with the molten bronze.
To create the ceramic shell first
the side of the wax with the detailed sculpted
surface is covered in several layers of investment
to a thickness of ½ inch. The first layer
of the investment has to be put on with great
care because it will pick up all the details of
the sculpture. In order to prevent the investment
from flaking or the ludo mold from cracking the
next layer of the investment must be applied before
the layer underneath completely
When the investment is hard it
initially helps to hold rigid the 5/16 inch sculpted
wax sheet while the styrofoam support is removed
from the back side of the wax. The styrofoam block
on the back side of the wax is removed by melting
away the styrofoam with a solvent, leaving a 5/16
x 30 x 40 inch piece of wax attached on one side
to the ceramic investment.
Much preliminary work occures
the foundry before the bronze
is heated to a molten metal.
Runners and Risers
The foundry technicians plot out
on the exposed back side of the wax plate, points
to melt on a system of wax rods called runners and
risers. When all the wax encased in the investment
is melted away the runners serve as channels for sending
melted bronze to the sculpted surface and the risers
allow a route for heated air to escape.
The main runner is laid out so
that the molten bronze will flow to the furthest
corners of the piece first. Secondary runners
coming off the main runner are planned so that
molten bronze quickly and methodically fills the
entire cavity in such a way that gases can efficiently
escape and all the details and appendages of the
sculpture can be filled before the molten bronze
The risers in which gases escape
are much narrower tubes than the runners. At the
entry point for the molten bronze a larger hole
called the pouring gate or pouring cup is created
to connect to all the runners.
After the runners, risers and
a pouring gate are set up, the back side of the wax
sculpture and the runners and risers are covered in
several layers of investment just as the detailed
front side was. When the investment is dried the wax
quilt squares, quilted borders and a number of runners
and risers is completely encased in a hard ceramic-like
Burning Out Wax
To prepare for pouring the
bronze into it, the investment shell mold with
the wax inside is placed in a large oven with
the openings of the runners and risers facing
down. In the oven the wax is melted and burned
away leaving a hot hollow investment shell. The
hollow space of this shell is the exact detailed
negative shape of what was once wax and what will
soon be bronze. This is the stage where the wax
is "lost" in the lost wax process.
All the moisture and wax
must be melted out of the investment shell. The
wax is melted out at 200 to 400 degrees Celsius,
and then the temperature of the ceramic investment
case is raised to more than 600 degrees Celsius
to burn out any remaining wax or moisture. Even
a small particle of wax remaining in the investment
shell can turn to a gas in contact with the flowing
molten bronze and flaw the sculptural detail that
is being cast.
When completely melted and burned out, the hollow
hot investment shell is taken out of the oven
and placed in a large container with the openings
of the runners and risers now facing up. The hot
investment "container" is quickly surrounded
in a fireproof and heat resistant sand to help
the ceramic mold stay rigid and to absorb any
bronze that leaks out of any cracks. Immediately
molten bronze is poured into the hollow space
of the hot investment shell.
TURNED TO STONE
The pain is too large
It radiates in my bones.
The darkness is so deep
I’m curled up all alone.
I long to see the sun
To heal and warm my pain;
I’d even settle for clouds
or sheets of pouring rain.
In this dark cold room
Where all my hope is lost,
I sit so very still
Knowing this has a cost.
Slowly the door opens,
A shaft of sunlight comes in;
Hesitantly I crawl out,
Now my healing can begin.
In plaster, wood and wax
I lay my broken life down,
Realizing with each small step,
I’ve finally come into my own.
Properties of Bronze
While the wax is being melted
and burnt out of the ceramic shell mold, another
oven is melting the bronze in a crucible or pot
that is heated to more than 1100 degrees Celsius.
Bronze historically has been roughly 90 percent
copper and 10 percent some combination of tin
with possibly some zinc and lead. Copper is a
very soft metal, but it withstands the elements
of the weather and time quite well. Copper does
not pour well when molten, but when tin is combined
with copper it flows better, becomes a harder
metal, and some believe becomes more attractive.
In the foundry process, gases from
the molten metal are created in the melting process
and these can leave an uneven and pitted surface
when the bronze is poured into the ceramic shell.
Copper/phosphate and other powders were historically
added to bronze to remedy this problem.
Modern bronze foundries have developed
silicon bronze as an art bronze that is durable
over time, aesthetic, easy pouring and is resistant
to the pitting associated with foundry gases.
This modern silicon bronze is an alloy that addresses
the many different and complex properties of an
art bronze. The Everdur silicone bronze for the
"Reaching Out" figures is approximately
94 percent copper, 4 percent silicon, 1 percent
manganese, with the remainder tin, lead, zinc,
nickel, iron and aluminum.
ALL THE GOOD I CAN DO
You can't have it -
not my happiness
not my love
not my life fulfillment
not my security
not my commitment
not my success
not my purpose
not my foundation
You have not, can not, will not take from
Me my potential to have all of these things.
To be free from fear
from you & your dementia
I can be loved
I am loved.
My chance to be remembered
for all the good I can do
for all the support I can give
for all the hope I can bring
Comes from you and all you did.
Fooled you !
When the bronze is melted to
the right temperature the red molten metal is brought
out of the oven. The manganese in the bronze serves
as a deoxidizer to help separate gases and other
impurities from the molten bronze that would weaken
the sculpture and create visual flaws. The impurities
that float to the surface are scraped off with steel
tongs. Pouring of molten bronze is the dramatic
moment in the overall foundry process that will
actually take more than one year in total for the
"Reaching Out" Monument.
The crucible with bright melted
bronze is brought over to the ceramic mold and
is immediately poured quickly and consistently
into the prepared pouring gate of the ceramic
investment mold. The bronze is poured while the
ceramic mold is still hot, so the bronze will
not solidify before filling all the areas and
crevices of the mold.
The molten bronze is poured without
the slightest interruption, because a momentary
pause or jerk can cause an air bubble to form
in a runner that will become a hollow flaw in
the bronze sculpture.
The bronze cools to the point of
solidity within minutes, but it will be hours
or overnight before the bronze is safe to be handled.
The space that was first wax, then a hollow cavity,
is now filled with solid bronze.
Removing the Shell
While the investment shell and
bronze cool the metal shrinks almost 10 percent
and the shrinkage and dramatic change in temperature
causes much of the investment shell to shatter into
pieces that come away from the now bronze quilt
squares. Ceramic investment that does not fall away
will be chipped away from the bronze with hammer
or chisels. All of the runners and risers are cut
off and ground smooth.
In my worlds
great voids exist
In my dreams
Freedom travels with the breeze
In the sky, with the wind
In the air which is everywhere
In my world.
This process with the 70 wax and
styrofoam cubes is repeated 70 times to change
the wax surface with all their details into bronze
pieces. The after casting clusters of bronze quilt
squares, and hands, sleeves and heads of the two
"Reaching Out" figures will be organized
and welded together.
The weld lines leave ridges which
will need to be ground down and textured to look
like the rest of the surface of the quilt borders.
Some areas of the weld, particularly at the squares
where the borders come together, will need to
have some of the original detail resculpted with
chisels and fine grinders.
Fixing Imperfect Castings
If all turns out right in
the casting process, all of the detail sculpted
will be found in the cast quilt squares. In a
sculpture the size and complexity of the "Reaching
Out" monument there are likely to be some
small sections where the bronze did not flow or
where the investment shell cracked. This will
leave small missing voids or areas of imperfection
that will have to be replaced.
The small flawed areas will
have a new casting wax piece made from the original
rubber molds and the entire investment and bronze
casting process will be repeated with this small
replacement section of the sculpture.
After all the pieces of the
Monument are welded and cleaned up, the colour
or "bronze patina" will be applied.
Patina is the colour that naturally takes place
on raw bronze as it ages over a long period of
time. Sculptors short cut the patina aging process
and gain far more control of the patina color
through the application of various chemicals on
heated bronze. The patina is slowly built up to
a rich colour through the repeated application
of various chemical solutions accompanied with
In the year that the "Reaching
Out" figure is moving through the foundry
process, numerous test pieces will be done to
experiment with a patina process and colour that
will allow the plain quilt squares to be used
for making hand prints with damp hands. After
the right patina colour is arrived at, it is brought
out further with the application of a paste wax.
THREAD OF HOPE
Oh my soul screams in silence
I weep...my loss is so deep
Torn, ripped and thrown away
I am forgotten...no place in your world
Drowned in an instant - a moment lost forever
Holding on --- letting go
Suspended by a thread of hope
From hell to here -- here to the future
Anticipation - unknown