Casting process PortLligat Collection Dali Sculptures
The Art of the lost wax process
Original from somewhere between the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf in the third millennium BC, ancient “Lost wax” bronze castings have withstood the centuries, telling the tale of past cultures: Chinese bronzes depicted ceremonial images; Indian and Egyptian castings symbolized deities; Africans cast images of nature; and the Greeks recreated the human form. Many of the cultures have disappeared, religions have evolved and societies have changed, yet today, bronze casting is essentially the same as it was in 2000 BC.
The “lost wax” casting is still today acknowledged to produce the very finest casts. There is no better way of obtaining a better bronze. Dali knew it. He requested that, in accordance to his wishes, these sculptures were always cast in this manner.
As editor, at Obra Contemporanea we are very conscious of the importance of the quality casting towards achieving an Excel Work of Art. Dali left us the original mold of each piece, but since his death in 1989, it is Obra Contemporanea as editor, who holds the responsibility for controlling with extreme rigor, the accurate casting and finishing of each Work. This responsibility is now shared with Fundación Gala Dali, who accredites each of our castings.
Casting process PortLligat Collection Dali Sculptures
Bronze casting involves complex reworking, refinement, and patination of the new cast after it comes out of the mold in its brute state. This work must be done by highly skilled artisans who have access not only to the plaster model, but also to the artist’s standards of quality. For this reason Obra Contemporanea editions are only cast at two different foundries: Mibrosa in Barcelona (Spain) and Bonvicini in Verone (Italy). Each of our casts carries the foundry seal on the same bronze, and it is accompanied by a foundry certificate with details of the bronze quality and casting date.
BONVICINI, Verona, Italy
The Bonvicini foundry, established by the brothers Luigi, Fausto and Ettore Bonvicini, is reknown throughout the world as fusions in bronze and other alloys have been performed for sculptures of hundreds of artists of various nationalities, among whom René Margritte, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Joan Mirò, Sebastian Matta, Etienne Martin, Giorgio De Chirico, Lucio Fontana, Luciano Minguzzi, Arnaldo Pomodoro.
The most difficult experiments of fusion as well as of volumetric modification of the original models, have been achieved by the Bonvicini brothers and their expert collaborators with results which represent the highest level product obtained with techniques of “running wax” both traditional and modern, that is utilizing the so called “ceramic” system, particularly advantages for multisculptures.
The Bonvicini foundry has produced many small and medium sized works as well as a great number of colossal pieces. They are represented in authoritative encyclopedias, in historical books of contemporary art and in specialized magazines.
MIBROSA FOUNDRY (BARCELONA)
The MIBROSA Foundry belongs to the well known artisan Sr. Jordi Pesarrodona.
Jordi Pesarrodona started his career as jeweller in Barcelona in 1944. He started as a mere apprentice, and soon became one of the most prestigious professionals in this industry.
In 1953 he opened up his own workshop and worked for the best known jewelly shops in Barcelona: Llopart, Sunyer, Capdevila, Vagues, Puig Doria, etc.
Towards the late 1960s, he became very much involved with the lost wax melting process, opening the present foundry works in the Gayarre Street, where he created a true “artisan industry”.
Mibrosa foundry became involved in the casting of the Port Lligat Collection (previously known as Clot Collection) of Salvador Dali sculptures in the early 1980s. Mibrosa cast the original full collection of 44 pieces that is part of the permanent Collection of The Salvador Dali Museum of Saint Petersburg (Florida) and the several pieces that belong to the Fundación Gala Salvador Dali of Figueras.
The Lost-wax casting process:
1.- The first step begins with the creation of a model. This can be made of plaster, clay, marble, stone, wood,… Dali chose wax.
2.- An impression of the model is made in a bed of very fine, elastic silicon rubber supported by a rigid outer mold. The supportive layer is designed to withstand the pressure of melted wax running through the mold. This mold is the exact “negative” of the original. Every detail, including the Artist’s signature is perfectly impressed.
3.- This sharply defined mold is used to create a wax model identical to the artist’s original.
4.- The wax casting is removed from the mold, and a trained artisan hand-finishes the wax pattern to original perfection. Each wax casting is treated as if it were an original work of art.
5.- A network of wax conduits, called sprues and gates, are attached to the model. They allow the even flow of molten metal, alleviating the trapping of air and gas. They also act as channels through which the wax, when heated, will escape.
6.- The wax is then coated with an “investment” or liquid refectory ceramic. Several layers are applied creating a stable mold which is allowed to cure for several days.
7.- The piece, now coated in ceramic shell, is fired in a kiln. This bakes the shell and eliminates the wax which gets “lost” in the flames. A cavity, exact replica of the artist’s original creation, is left empty in its place.
8.- The ceramic “empty” shell is removed from the kiln and molten bronze is immediately poured in.
9.- After cooling for several hours, the ceramic shell is carefully broken away, liberating the bronze sculpture within.
10.- Fine sand particles are blasted under air pressure to remove the last traces of ceramic shell that may rest adhered to the bronze.
11.- An artisan then cuts away the sprues and gates. Then, by carefully grinding, chasing, sanding and polishing, the bronze is made to look exactly like the artist’s original sculpture.
12.- The chased bronze is then treated with chemicals and heat to give it the chosen final appearance according to the artist’s instructions. The patina is sealed under a wax coating and becomes a permanent attribute of the sculpture.