Metal casting – the coolest workshop ever!

My first bronze sculptures.

The metal casting workshop is the coolest one I’ve ever had in my life. There are beauty and surprises beyond description in each step.┬áHonestly, I didn’t know there’s a foundry lab in Aalto University until I was accepted to the advanced metal casting workshop and stepped into a building I’ve never been to. Even after studying in Aalto for almost 2 years, there are still more surprises to discover, the excitement is like finding easter eggs after a long search.

First step, everyone used wax to form the shapes of sculptures. Wax was quite hard, after few hours, my fingers were numb. After the jet was done, I wanted to make wolf figures…..too hard. Abort! There came the penguins.

Next step was to make the plaster mold to cover the wax models. Then, the mold would be put into a steamer to melt out the wax which will be recycled. The bronze materials we used were recycled ones. Aalto foundry lab is operated in a quite sustainable way.

After the plaster molds were ready, it’s time to melt some recycled bronze. The temperature reached up to 1200 Celsius degree.

 

Then, the molten bronze was poured into the dried molds. It’s like a stream of bright light flowing into the hole. So stunning.

 

The color of molten bronze in the cooling process shifted from illuminating orange to golden amber.

Next comes my favorite part – SMASH IT! , everyone gets to smash the mold and retrieve the bronze sculpture.

 

Ready for washing out the remaining plaster, cutting out the channels and final polish.

One of the missions of Aalto foundry lab is to provide engineering designer to prototype their ideas. Every year, there are basic and advanced metal casting workshop instructed by Alex Suomi and Kalle Jalava. In the last few days in the workshop, we were lucky to receive the instructions from the Finnish sculptor Raimo Jaatinen. It’s a workshop full of fun and inspiration. In Aalto, I have the chance to try out all kinds of materials as a student designer. Still, there is more to discover in Aalto Workshops.


Hsiao-Pei Liao,
Creative Sustainability Master Program

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