Friday, July 11, 2014

Starting a Foundry

The last few months have been pretty busy for us here at the blacksmith's shop. Since we've expanded our studio space, one of the things we've been waiting on a client to ask is, "Can I get some personalized bronze medallions on my railing?".

Finally we were asked!
After a bit of a discussion, we gave a quote to our client & received approval.

So we started a foundry here at Maynard Studios! 

First step? We ordered our raw materials and built ourselves a furnace that would reach about 2100 degrees F, to melt bronze.

Matthew and I created clay originals of the medallions we wanted to cast. Melanie Van Houten, Director of (nearby) Josephine Sculpture Park saved us time & space we didn't have for the mold making process and prepared them for us. With help from her assistant at the sculpture park, Daniel Krentz, they brought the molds into our studio and we helped finishing preparing them.

Meanwhile, I loaded up the crucible (jar like container, inside the furnace) with small pieces of bronze and started heating them up. After they were melted, we added larger bronze ingots that we had purchased.

The sand molds were stacked and prepared for pouring bronze. The little tinfoil  in this picture (on top) just keeps dust & debris out until we're ready to pour. The sand on the floor prevents the molten bronze or the crucible from exploding, which it will do if it touches any concrete or surface that has moisture in it. 
Safety, first!

Now here's the "fun part". We out on our safety gear to protect us from the heat. 
Then Matthew poured the bronze by lifting the loaded crucible out of the furnace, and pouring them into our prepared sand mold "towers".  Melanie & Daniel spotted him and stopped any overflow or leaks that happened during the process. 

We repeated this process many times. After letting the poured bronze cool for quite awhile, we took turns breaking away the sand molds and were left with our final pieces! Many hands were on hand.

And then we spent some time cutting them apart from each other, and then cleaning and preparing them to be the medallions they were meant to be. 
Our oldest son, Jakob, was the muscle for this part.

Quite a few hands stepped in for the polishing, patina & wax on the medallions. This was kind of a "social hour" activity and became a  unexpectedly pleasant part of the process!

At the end of a long day, our oldest shop cat "Inky" enjoyed a nap by the cooling furnace & tools. 

A few weeks later we finished work on the railing, loaded up our trailer and went to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia  and installed our railing with the medallions. I've added a few photos of the final railing installation here for you to see. 

Thanks to our wonderful crew, friends & family- We've not only expanded our shop now, but also our "tool belts" with the knowledge of casting and increased our capabilities & what we can offer our clients as well. Sky's the limit!


  1. video here:

  2. What a terrific job documenting this entire process. So many don't know how many steps it takes to add something like that. Beautiful work as always!