Scrounging Bronze

The local supplier of Silicon Bronze (873 alloy) ran out a week ago, and finally today yesterday’s special shipment arrived. With no bronze in-hand I would have had to wait to burn out the waxes into next week, so I was glad the shipment finally came in. There was another issue: Bronze is running stupid-expensive at the moment. Just the bronze to cast two figures would have been close to $1,000. The last time I cast metal it would have been around $250. I was expecting prices to have doubled, but it was way out of the realm of justification. So I picked up enough to cast the smaller female figure, she is about 1/3 the mass of the male figure, and figured I would just have to leave it at that. Then I thought about the reject castings from my Orpheus and Eurydice commission for the Utah Opera/Symphony, partial bronze figures that I have dragged across the country with me for years . I had hoped to pull another two pair of legs to form a triptych base structure for a larger work this spring, but that can never happen with bronze prices so high. Instead I will cut these pieces down and re-melt them for the large male figure.

Also pictured are the investment forms for the two figures, created from chicken wire and tar paper. Tommorrow, with the help of a student volunteer, I will interr the wax figures with the investment slurry and load them into the burn-out kiln, starting 50-odd hours of baking to melt out the wax and vitrify the molds. I’ll be driving up to check on the kiln every few hours the entire time- if the temp bumps up from 975 up past 1100 as the molds dry out, then the molds will weaken or fall apart, so temps must be held constant, and must be lowered incrementally or the molds cool too fast and split or shatter.The bake times out at 10am Monday, and guestimating it will be cool enough to remove the molds for a noon/1ish bronze pour.

 

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