The Lost Wax Process

The Lost Wax Process

Bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) first appeared in the Near East toward the end of the fourth millennium B.C. There exists no definitive record of when the lost wax method of casting was invented.

The earliest users of this method began with a clay core roughly in the shape of the subject to be sculpted. The core was then covered with wax, and the wax was sculpted into the finished form. When the wax hardened, it in turn was covered with clay. The entire object was fired, hardening the clay and melting the wax. The space vacated by the wax was then filled with molten bronze. When the bronze cooled and hardened, the clay was removed from outside and inside. The bronze object was then cleaned and polished by hand.

The basic principle of the lost wax method of casting remains unchanged, although new techniques have been developed. The most significant development was the introduction of an intermediate mold from which multiple wax models are made.

Cast bronze is a permanent medium. Archaeologists have unearthed bronze artifacts buried thousands of years. Wally Shoop, a recognized expert in bronze casting, feels a strong sense of responsibility when crafting works of art which may survive dozens of generations.