The Journey Continues for the Nolcha Four!
The Journey Continues for the Nolcha Four! After a 10-day trek across country, the Nolcha Four arrived safely in Joshua Tree, California. You might ask, why Joshua Tree? Well, Joshua Tree is the home of my good friend Ish Rodriguez. I have known Ish for over 20 years. A talented artist and a skilled foundryman with over 30 years in the foundry/casting business, Ish is someone I trust implicitly to cast my work. It is one thing to sculpt a piece and a whole other thing turning one’s creation into metal. Trust me, this is an art form in and of itself.
The first step in the casting process is to pour the mold into casting wax. Sounds simple, but it is not. Sometimes sculptures molds are so heavy that they require two people to maneuvers. Working with hot wax is dangerous, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. If left unattended, hot wax is also flammable and can cause a fire. Trust me on that one, it’s not pretty! Wax needs to be at the perfect temperature in order to pour efficiently and produce the best cast possible. If the molds are complicated, it may take several tries before a clean copy is produced. See photos 1 and 2.
Once a wax casting is poured, the next step is detailing the wax. This entails removing mold seams and filling any hole that appear on the surface. This is also a good time to fix any imperfection. It is much easier to fix the wax than it is to fix the metal after casting. Next, gates and sprues (wax funnels) are attached to the pieces in preparation for the pour. See photo 3.
After Ish completed all the steps listed above, he took the pieces to the foundry to be poured. I am sure that by now you are exhausted from just reading about all of this, but wait, there’s more!! Next is the dip. The dip entails taking the gated wax piece and dipping it into a huge rotating vat of a chemical concoction known as slurry. Slurry is made of colloidal silica. Once dipped in colloidal silica, the piece is hit with a special kind of sand, is dried and then is dipped again, then hit with sand to build up a thick shell encasing the wax model. This goes on approximately seven or eight times and takes about a week to complete before the piece is ready to be poured into molten bronze. See photo 4.
But wait, there’s more! Next is the lost wax part. The wax model, which is encased in a slurry shell, is placed into a huge oven where the wax is burned out of the shell, leaving the shell empty so that the liquid bronze can be poured. See photos 5-6.
After pouring, the shell is broken and what remains is a bronze piece which now requires a ton of work to chase, polish, and weld back together.
So, there you have it. This is exactly where we are this very moment. The Nolcha Four are being chased, polished getting ready for the next leg of their journey back to Philadelphia for a specialty patina. Stay tuned as the journey continues for the Nolcha Four and find out what awaits them there! See photo 7.
To read more about the Nolcha Four’s journey from clay to bronze check out Join Us on the Journey – There are Molds to be Made and Join Us on the Journey – Philly Take Two.