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- C$90 for a 3.5-hour build-your-own ring workshop for one (C$229 value)
- C$185 for a 3.5-hour build-your-own ring workshop for two (C$458 value)
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####Bronze Casting: Beauty Is Hard
Some of the world’s most impressive sculptures are bronzes. To understand how artists mold this metal into art, check out Groupon’s guide to casting.
In international waters he bobbed, caught by accident in a fishing net, his expression a resigned pout, his arm raised as if to scratch his head, where a laurel crown (the only thing clothing his muscled form) sat undisturbed. Although the bronze statue, dubbed Victorious Youth was pulled from the depths in 1964, it is estimated to have been cast in Greece between 300 BC and 100 BC. How had such durability come to coexist with such intricate, lifelike detail so early in history?
It’s never been easy. In the early days, artists using what’s known as the lost-wax method would start by making a beeswax model that was simply a more-fragile twin of the sculpture to come. Then, they’d cover it in clay and heat the whole thing over a fire or a sleeping dragon’s nostrils. As the clay baked, the wax would melt, revealing a cavity where molten metal could be poured. When the sculpture hardened, the artist would simply knock the clay away from the solid metal figure.
That’s still a condensed version of the modern process, but in order to create smooth, consistent shapes that exactly match the original model, many steps are often needed in between. Modern molds are made by painting the model with viscous polyurethane or silicone rubber in sections, then encasing that flexible 3-D negative in rock-hard plaster. Enough wax to coat the mold’s inner walls is poured in, and when this wax figure is removed, it’s time for the first round of chasing—that is, carefully melting away the seams left by the mold’s joints and any other imperfections. Sprues are then created—channels in which the bronze is poured and that let steam escape.
At this point, yet another mold, called an investment, is created by dipping the enhanced wax form into a plaster or ceramic slurry. From then on, the artisans are back to a higher-tech version of the fires of the ancient Greeks and Chinese—a kiln or an autoclave to melt away the wax, a kiln to heat the investment so that the hot metal will not break it, and a crucible to turn the bronze to liquid. A final chasing polishes the cooled metal to a seamless sheen so that art lovers can gape at it in a museum or pigeons can use it as a mirror in the park.