Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JUL-AUG 2012

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ANTIQUE SILVER A labor intense antique Written by Kirby Camm, Bittners As you can see from the illustration, bronzes, the generic name for any small statuary made of bronze, come in every shape, size and form imaginable. However, no one ever thinks about how these wonderful antiques were made and all the labor intensive work needed to make these fantastic small art sculptures. It is a lengthy and difficult process to make any artwork out of bronze. First, you have to mix molten copper with a small amount of molten tin to produce bronze. Tis involves very high temperatures, making it somewhat dangerous. Although there are exceptions, for the most part all bronze artworks are cast in sections, not whole, and later joined together. There are two main ways to cast bronze, lost wax and sand casting. Lost wax involves making a wax replica of what is to be made in bronze. Te wax replica is encased in a mold with a material that can withstand intense high temperatures. The wax is then melted out of the mold and hot molted bronze is poured into the void where the wax replica once was, producing an exact replica in bronze. Sand casting is similar but differs in that instead of wax, a wooden copy of what is to be cast in bronze is used for the model. Two forms are filled with fine sand, and the wooden model is pressed into and sandwiched between the two sand-filled forms. The two forms are then carefully separated, the wooden copy removed, and the two sand molds are rejoined. Hot molten bronze is then poured into the sand mold to reproduce whatever was molded in the sand. After the molten bronze is cooled, be it lost wax or sand casting, the laborious process of finish work starts. Te parts of the bronze artwork are then refined and polished. These bronze parts are assembled by being riveted or soldered together, sometimes a combination of both processes, to make a completed bronze artwork. Tis finish work is crucial to the overall look of the piece. Te last process involved is putting on a patina. Tere are endless different patinas used to color bronze artworks, and, so I was told, the patinas were always a secret process that was not shared between makers. One only has to look at all the different coloration on the bronzes illustrated to add credence to this thought. No matter the shape, size, form or period, bronze artworks are true labors of love. sl slmag.net 33

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