Astronaut on a Rock

The last few months I have been working on and off on some bronze castings, one of which is an astronaut on a rock. It is part of a series where I am exploring monuments, trophies and markers, not necessarily in that order.

The casting process is laborious if you are doing it all yourself. First you need to create the form. For the astronaut I started off with a plaster cast relief, a left and a right. For the rock, I used, well, a rock. Next you need to make a mold, I made a rubber and plaster molds for each piece, the rock was a two piece mold. Of course I had to do this project as a multiple, so for each piece, (left, right, rock), I next had to make a wax positive, this is essentially a wax casting of the finished piece. Then you sprue and gate the pieces. This is a process of channels that allows the metal to flow in and a way for the air to come out, think no voids I the final piece. Of course you can hang multiple pieces on each of the Spurs and gated mold to be cast. Next you dip the sprue and gated positives in a ceramic slip, then coat with sand until it’s about a quarter of an inch to three eights of an inch thick. Next you melt out the wax in a kiln or with a heat gun and your half way to finished, because after you pour the metal the work begins.

That work entails cutting the sprue and gates off of your finished pieces, grinding, lots of grinding in my case. Then I get to figure out how to assemble them. Here I went with screws, nuts and bolts, I could have welded… Next we polish and polish some more and we get to the step where we patina the final assembly. I went with a traditional brownish tone. Then you can polish it up a little more to add some depth and finally apply several coats of wax.

That’s all there is to it! Ugh.

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