Bronze Casting History

bronze foundryAn age old process handed down from generation to generation from master to pupil, the lost wax process and bronze casting history dates back to approximately 6000 years ago. It is fabled that a fire was banked one night with copper bear­ing ore.  In the morning gleam­ing beads of copper were discovered in the ashes. They tried to hammer the beads and realized that they had become harder. This was an impor­tant discovery.  It offered a metal with strength and durability to cast their tools.

Refractory qualities of clay were discovered years prior for cook­ing; thus enabling heating the metal in containment and creating molds. There are close ties between molding and ceramics.  This brings archaeologists to believe that some unknown genius probably originated as a potter.  And to him the world is still indebted.

While etching a design on a pot, it occurred to him that it might be more attrac­tive and stable if made in metal. He coated a pot in beeswax and etched a design on it. He then coated this in clay. Once fired, the wax ran out and he was left with a hollow space with a negative image of the beeswax. Into this ceramic mold he poured molten copper. Once cooled, the clay was bro­ken away, revealing in metal the first lost wax casting.

Considering this ear­ly artisan’s background of experience, his was an innovation of the greatest importance. No other process can be named by archaeologists, so unique in innovation, deduction, engineering ability and ingenuity. When one considers the meager tools and lack of knowledge, lost wax molding must be classed as an achievement equal to the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire.