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  #1  
Old 12-01-2011, 07:04 AM
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Dries Dries is offline
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Sculpting vs casting

Its been a bit quiet on the forum lately so I will use the opportunity to rattle the cage a bit. I am still in my baby shoes when it comes to sculpting and the home casting process and from my limited experience I must say that the casting process i.e. mould making, investing, melting, casting, patina etc is much more difficult than it is to create a clay or wax sculpture. Do those that have tried their hand at casting agree with my statement? I must just add that I cant see me doing the one without the other, its almost if I am sculpting in order to be able to cast again. I like the adrenalin rush and the danger aspect of the intense heat and molten metal ……….
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2011, 10:34 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

I dont think they are more difficult you are just lumping them all together so it just seems that way. Each is a skill itself and patination, to me an art.
Here is the order they are carried out

Sculpting
Mold making
Wax casting, chasing and sprueing
Ceramic shell
Metal casting
Chasing, welding the casting etc
Patination and finishing

For me I would put then in the following order of difficulty. I have given them a mark out of 10 to be able to compare them to each other as well as just ordering them.

Patination and finishing 9
Sculpting 7
Metal casting 6
Chasing, welding the casting etc 5
Mold making 5
Wax casting, chasing and sprueing 3
Ceramic shell 3

This of course would be different for each person
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  #3  
Old 12-04-2011, 11:22 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

The think is its trying to compare one part of the process with the whole process. Although it is of course entirely to make castings without sculpting a model at all either by casting from life, making a direct carved mould or whatever.

It's also probably fair to say that making complex multi-part moulds is, all else being equal, is more difficult than making investment moulds. The actual casting itself is pretty easy, you just pour the runny metal in the right hole. OF course getting the molten metal in the first place can be a bit more of a challenge but that rather depends on what equipment you're using.

It's fairly rare for a wax or clay sculpt to be considered an end product in it's own right unless you start talking about ceramics or waxworks which is really going off in a bit of a different direction.

Really it would be more meaningful to compare casting with carving or fabrication.

Even so I don't think it make s a lot of sense to compare the difficulty of different processes because they're ...well...different. Much more important is selecting the right process for what you actually want to achieve.
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:27 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Quote:
Originally Posted by mantrid View Post
Patination and finishing 9
Sculpting 7
Metal casting 6
Chasing, welding the casting etc 5
Mold making 5
Wax casting, chasing and sprueing 3
Ceramic shell 3

This of course would be different for each person
Here is my rating

Patination and finishing 9
Metal casting 7
Sculpting 6
Mold making 6
Chasing, welding the casting etc 5
Wax casting, chasing and sprueing 4
Investment casting 3
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  #5  
Old 12-04-2011, 11:38 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Chris,

I sometimes write with the idea in my head but it comes out different on paper. What I actually want to know is how many sculptors cast their own sculptures and if not why? Is it due to circumstances, cost, experience time
have they perhaps done it in the beginning but find its less of a slep to rather send it to a foundry.
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  #6  
Old 12-05-2011, 03:47 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

I think a number of reasons could be one or a combination

Need time to learn the process
Available space
Expense of setup
Its a techy/science thing that would put alot of arty types off.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:40 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Why do you cast your own sculptures Mantrid?
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  #8  
Old 12-05-2011, 10:15 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

As for me, each step is my own with the exception that I take a wax to the foundry and get a welded but not grinded, rough cast back from them.
My greatest joy is in the sculpting, and the other stages for me are just neccessary steps to arrive at a finished work, but are way less enjoyable than creating something out of nothing and having it "breath life".

I took a bronze casting class a year into my start as a sculptor, and realized that it would be a waste of my time, talent, and resources to pursue that part of the process since there are facilities and people set up to do such work who focus on that full time. If I lived in a remote area where those rescources did not exist it might have me reconsidering, but fortunately there is an excellent foundry ( Casting Creations ) about 1 1/2 hours away, and a mediocre one 45 minutes away. There used to be a really good one 20 miuntes away until the owner passed away and the business was disbanded.

As it is, there is not enough time and energy in one embodiment to create all the work that I would like to, which also involves mural painting and other media of expression. As a painter, I do not find it necessary to weave canvas or grind pigments to create my own paint, as there are experts who do that for me. That is how I would compare the casting of my work into bronze.

Any foundry of quality can cast bronze to a standard that works for me, but as an artist there is no one else to whom I can expect will translate my unique vision from mind to physical expression, so that is where the focus needs to be. I could in fact pass on to others the mold making, wax pouring, grinding, and patina stages except that economics and a desire to control the results are crucial factors there as well.
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  #9  
Old 12-05-2011, 10:32 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

I have cast my work in every medium except hot bronze. I did plaster, I felt it was now permanent enough, I wanted it to go outside.

I tried cold bronze, acrylic with bronze gel coat, I'm glad I did it but also not weatherproof. It also won't stay shiny. That could be from my ignorance though.

I have high fired my sculptures, but still they do not stand up to the weather. I live in SW GA.

My works are about 4 feet tall at the moment. I am now trying cement. I have cast a lot of large and small pieces in the last few weeks. I need to talk to some experienced cement artists to clear up a few things for me. But I think I am going to like the cement best.

Sculpting is always the best part. The rest is survival. Scout

One day I will do the foundry, but my work is not at that level yet. May never be. I mostly just want something permanent (ish).
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  #10  
Old 12-05-2011, 12:06 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dries View Post
Why do you cast your own sculptures Mantrid?

My philosophy is why pay someone to do something you can do yourself. Besides I enjoy casting metal as much as the sculpting, sometimes even more. Theres nothing like smashing off the shell in anticipation of what awaits, success or fail, bit like opening a christmas present.
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  #11  
Old 12-05-2011, 06:08 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Quote:
Originally Posted by mantrid View Post
My philosophy is why pay someone to do something you can do yourself.
Grow your own food?
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  #12  
Old 12-05-2011, 11:52 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

I also love the casting process although it can drive me nuts most of the times. Mantrid is right the moment when you start opening the investment …..magic. I think my main reason for doing the casting myself is that in the back of my mind I knew that none of my sculptures would have made it to the bronze stage if I did not do it myself. Sculpting for me is just a hobby at this stage but you all know it’s very expensive, so for me to pay x amount to a foundry would not have worked.

My other concern is that I am still not happy with my first couple of attempts but I can re-melt and try again. If I did it at a foundry I would be stuck with a sculpture I did not really like. I also understand what Glenn is saying and if sculpting becomes my main source of income or a commission then I would also focus more on the actual sculpting and leave the casting to the experts. I will also make use of a foundry if my sculpture exceeds 40cm.
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  #13  
Old 12-06-2011, 05:04 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennT View Post
Grow your own food?
Yes. How did you guess? My father has always has an allotment (not sure if they have these in the US) and I was put to work in it from an early age. I caught the bug and now grow alot of my own fruit and veg in my garden. Mostly the more expensive stuff that would cost alot to buy. I dont bother with the cheaper stuff like potatoes that take alot of space and ony give a small saving.
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:59 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Mantrid, at least you know where your food came from & what "fertilizers" were put on it. Besides, there is nothing like a veggie that is freshly harvested from the garden.
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  #15  
Old 12-06-2011, 07:51 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

We grow tomatoes, squash, beans, arugula, zuccini, lettuce, and ground cherries, and make our own kefir, kobucha, beet kvas, herbal extracts, sauer kraut, chicken broth, maple syrup, and pemican. But I'm still going to have someone else cast the bronze!
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  #16  
Old 12-06-2011, 08:53 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

There does come a time in your life when having someone else do some of the "work" is a necessity! It's all in what you can handle physically, emotionally and $$$!

I don't know about you but the creative sculpting is the only part I would do if someone else would do the rest for a bronze finished piece. ....and sell it for me!!!

I like to work big. I won't be able to do it for long. I hate to waste time doing the things I would rather not have to do. But, a girl's got to do what a girls got to do! For as long as she wants. Scout
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  #17  
Old 12-06-2011, 03:13 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

I have poured my own bronze but don't any more.
Who needs it, I'd rather pay to have it done and spend more time in my studio creating new work.
There are only so many hours in the day.
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  #18  
Old 12-06-2011, 07:06 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

I don't begrudge anyone for not performing their own mold-making/casting/welding/chasing/patination--
Foundry access is not easy to gain, but if the chance exists to have a hand in the entire process, do try it.

My first steps into casting were a literal (no-pun) trial-by-fire, where I had to learn everything... Now, I don't think handing off a wax to a foundry and returning to pick it up complete is something I'd like to do.
The entire process is a pretty worthwhile relationship. It's certainly nice to "beat up" on a piece while in a wax or clay stage, but there's also something to be said for doing so when the work is NOT so fragile.
That transition is incredibly satisfying.

The only step that continually frustrates is mold-making. At that stage, I tend to be fighting the calendar (I travel out of state to cast my work), and just want to get the dips in shell going.
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Old 12-07-2011, 04:48 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

some time ago I entered a competition to produce 3 life sized bronze corgi's(dogs) to celebrate the Queen(of England)s Jubilee and bugger me I won! I may have insinuated that I had the facility to produce the finished product ie a fully functioning foundry which could have swayed the judicial panel. I arrived home to announce to my sternest critic that we were getting rid of the chooks as I needed the shed to make into a foundry. I have been told repeatedly by this same person(my wife) that my ambition exceeds my ability by a considerable margin. But eventually the foundry was built and the corgis were cast and installed. The cognisenti on the west side of town hated them but the east side and the skate boarders loved them. They were placed at ground level on the footpath for maximum interaction which contributed to the destruction of many a pair of fishnet stockings assisted no doubt by the odd ardent suitor. Privately I was as thrilled by the brass plaque which described this humble veterinarian as an artist as I was by the dogs themselves. They had trailing leads which were intended to give the impression that Her Majesty was not far behind her escaping charges. Sadly the skateboarders soon levered them off.
Why do I tell you this? Because without the foundry I would not have got the commision and I suspect would not have been brave enough to go on with my other sculpture ideas if I had to pay to have a foundry finish the pieces
With all this I have learned to make better moulds better waxes and better castings.
I was enormously comforted by a trip to Florence Italy where I talked my way into a traditional art foundry for 4 weeks and discovered that the problems I was having with solid investment had not been entirely solved by them
I am somewhat of an imposter in that I still work 2 days a week as a vet which means that I am not entirely reliant on sculpture for my income
They survived the series of earthquakes here and have been put into storage. But one has been stolen. I now have the oportunity to make another. This will be a post earthquake corgi. With the mood of this town it will have to be pissing on a wall in defiance of the destruction surrounding the site
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:44 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Quote:
Originally Posted by obseq View Post
The only step that continually frustrates is mold-making.
I second you on that one.
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  #21  
Old 12-07-2011, 09:29 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

dogdoctor- I don't understand why your having a foundry was a factor in awarding you the commission. Is your country in general bereft of foundries available to cast decent work?

One hopes that the factor most relevant would be, "Is this person's concept (or past history of good design concepts and excecution of work)) the best from among the choices?" By emphasizing the role of your (soon to be) foundry in the decision, you may be selling short the role your artistic ability had in the selection.
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Old 12-07-2011, 08:15 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

I've done the sculpting, mold making, pouring of wax and wax chasing, &metal chasing and patina. I would like to do investing and metal pouring. The reason I have not so far is that I do not have the space, or appropriate insurance to take on hot metal work in my own back yard. I am in a rental. The land lord does not mind my sculpting and making a mess, but he does not want the hot metal around.

I am getting with some friends who have a little casting experience. I am not sure when because next year I will be mostly knocking off sculpting for a while to work and save a lot of money to build a studio. I have 3 sculptures now (nearly) ready to mold and cast, and will get those done by a foundry.

I feel that I am not that much of a purist that I really need to cast my own. It is ideal, and romantic in a bronze age way, but I am not in the society of creative anachronisms, so I really don't need to get out my bellows and tongs. If it comes down to creating a piece of art (the clay) and paying others to do the work for me, It all depends on my financial situation at the time. Right now I am not really solvent enough to pay for all the services.
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  #23  
Old 12-08-2011, 03:26 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

GlennT there is a foundry available to me in Auckland which is 1200km away. I know 3 Canterbury bronze sculptors who all cast their own work. We New Zealanders are a resourceful bunch(split the atom, climb Everest) so building a foundry is not so big on the scale of things. Besides I enjoy making equipment as much as I enjoy making bronzes. Besides we live on the other side of the earth from everybody. Stuff you take for granted is unavailable to us or costs an arm and a leg.
As to relevance- the corgis were my very first work so I had no history of concept or execution to trade on. You may understand now my excitement at having a public sculpture as my first effort. I add a photo of the corgis on my front lawn before being installed



I still like them
Obviously the dangling of the foundry in front of the selection committee gave the impression that the job would not be as expensive

Katyl I understand now what you meant when you said that you would not see a broken mould in your shop. You meant of course that you would not see any investment moulds either intact or broken in your shop
regards
David
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  #24  
Old 12-08-2011, 07:29 PM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dries View Post
I second you on that one.
What's your beef with the mold-making?
In a rush like me or something else?
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  #25  
Old 12-09-2011, 12:49 AM
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Re: Sculpting vs casting

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Originally Posted by obseq View Post
What's your beef with the mold-making?
In a rush like me or something else?
I am always in a rush, get about two hours a day to do sculpting. On my latest sculpture I had to redo the mould three times.... With the first effort I was to stingy with the silicon and I had a undercut which locked the plaster mother mould. On the second try everything was fine but for some unknown reason I constructed the mould so that the seam is running symmetrical down the leopards face!!! My third try was more successful and delivered a beautiful wax.
My sculptures at this point are not that difficult to mould and I think it can still get hairy with multiple pieces and textures. The other factor that frustrates me is how the silicon can vary with each batch. I don't know if its the silicon itself or the CAT but it never set the same. With my last mould making it happened again and one batch almost took 8 hours to cure to the tacky stage. The same silicon with different CAT cured in two hours. If I have to some it up I think its because I am rushing and not always thinking it through.
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