This 5 or 4 day practical workshop teaches the lost wax technique
as used by modern
art foundries. The process has been adapted and scaled down to make
it easily achievable.
The workshop demystifies the bronze casting process and is suitable
to anyone over the age of 16.
Sculptors, ceramicists, glass artists, wood carvers, furniture and
classical boat restorers, DIY enthusiasts, art students, craft
people, model makers, jewellers and goldsmiths and any creative
person wanting to expand their skills and knowledge.
No previous experience necessary.
At the end of the course, students have made a solid
and durable bronze sculpture.
Day one - Wax working.
Students are making a small sculpture in wax.
- Advantages of wax as a sculpting medium
- What is wax?
- Safety considerations
- Melting wax
- Sculpting (Painting, modelling, carving, texturing)
- Some models ideas and design criteria at the bottom of this page.
Day Two - "Sprueing"
The wax sculpture will then prepared for the mold.
The basics or wax working are further explored.
- Basic principle
- Making wax cups
- Making wax rods and tubes
- Assembling the Mold
- Welding wax
Day 3 - "Shelling up"
structure is encased in a ceramic mold, called “shell”, which is
painted in its liquid form in several layers over the wax and then
left to dry.
Take the afternoon off to visit our wonderful Island (Art galleries,
vineyards, beaches, walking tracks and more...)
- Mixing the “slurry” (Molochite Flour – Colloidal Silica )
- The importance of drying.
- First coat
- Second coat
Applying the "slurry"
Day Four - Finishing the shell
The shell is further build up
- Third, fourth and fifth coat
Once the shell is dry, you will use a gas torch to melt the wax out
of the shell. This is called “de-waxing” or “burning out”. You will
then have an empty negative of your original shape,
- Using a strong gas torch
- Avoiding fissures
- Fixing fissures
- Reinforcing the shell
Day Five - Baking, melting and finishing.
Baking the shell
- A simple ceramic blanket furnace
- Setting the shell upside down in sand
Melting and pouring
A simple temporary furnace needs to be built and metal melted inside
a crucible before it is poured in the empty shell. This is the most
exciting part of the process. Do not be intimidated, the method is
both safe and easy.
- Constructing a simple furnace
- Safety considerations
- Adjusting the gas torch
- Evaluating metal temperature
Knocking off and chasing
Once the metal has cooled and solidified, the shell can be knocked
off to free the newborn bronze sculpture. It will then need to be
cleaned and any imperfections smoothed out. This process is called
- Knocking off the shell
- Cleaning off the ceramic shell
- Cutting off "sprues"
- Fixing defects
Cleaning the ceramic off the bronze
Finally, the new sculpture will be given a surface
finish. This is known as patina.
- Heat patina
- Natural patina
- Chemical patina
- Final sealing
For the week end option, the tutor will finishing
the shells (day 3 and 4) on behalf of the students during the week
so that the second week end is dedicated to melting the metal and
finishing the pieces.
This is a list of what students have been making during the
- a human torso
- a bust (head and shoulder)
- a small human figure
- a small animal (cat, dog, gorilla, snake, hedgehog, fish, dolphin
- a pendant (Tiki)
- a medallion
- a fantasy figure
- a bracelet
- a small vessel
- a flax flower
- a book stop
- a belt buckle
- a knife handle
- a walking stick handle
- a drawer pull
- Anything your mind that can conceive and your hands can shape in
It is essential that the model is
made in wax. Please do not make a sculpture in clay or other
The model should be a small object about fist size
with no part smaller than 2 mm.
What is the difference between the 5 day course
and the 2 week ends course?
All topics are covered in the same depth with both options. The
two consecutive week end course has been devised to allow people who
cannot take time off during the week to attend. Between the two week
ends the tutor will simply be doing some of the repetitive parts of
the process on behalf of the students (Applying the last 3 layers of
Is this safe? You will be working with hot wax, LPG gas burners and hot metal.
There are some obvious risks and it is important that you dress
appropriately (long sleeves, jeans, closed shoes.) Gloves and other
safety equipments will be provided. The main risk is that your
clothes will be soiled with wax, ceramic and plaster drips. Please
do not wear your best garments.
"It was all very clear. We had a good time making
new friends. I feel I have learnt enough to cast more bronzes by
myself at home"
Trudy, the Netherland
"It was awesome
Olivier. I loved my bronze retreat on Waiheke. Learning new skills,
making new friends, having a few beers, swims at the beach... and a
beautiful sculpture. A week well invested!"
“Thank you for the pleasant time I spent with
you learning bronze casting techniques. You are a great teacher and
good company too. I like my little whale and will display it
"I am still buzzing
from the amazing few days I spent learning to cast bronze with you.
I came away from the course very impressed and enthused and am
looking forward to making something on my own here at home."
Olivier Duhamel is a figurative sculptor specialising
in bronze figurines.
Classical and elegant in style, his creations do
not convey any particular message, do not attempt any conceptual or
symbolist exploration, nor do they search to be innovative at all
cost. Olivier Duhamel is rather simply trying to capture the beauty
and sensuality of his subject of study.
Like few other sculptors, Olivier Duhamel casts
his own bronzes in is home foundry. This allows him to maintain full
control over the entire creative process. He prides himself on the
quality of his craftsmanship.
A New Zealander since 1987 French born Olivier
Duhamel lives and works on Waiheke Island. He warmly welcomes
visitors to his home studio and workshop.
If you are unable to attend the workshop for any reason, a good
alternative is to purchase the "Bronze
Written by Olivier Duhamel, this 140 pages
manual describes in details all the steps covered by the workshop
It can be purchase either as a downloadable PDF or as a
“I found your instructions and
video very clear indeed. The whole project was successful - much
better than I expected for a first attempt. This was due to the
excellence of your manual.” Roger B, New Zealand
only is it low cost,
can safely say that following the information in this book puts the casting of parts for model
engines, shop projects, art projects within the reach of everybody
young or old.
Make it a must
Glen Perye, USA
"It is a well
written book, chock full of valuable knowledge for the new bronze
caster. There are plenty of tips and processes for the more
experienced caster as well." www.metalwebnews.com