How to magically transform a bronze bar into an egg carton – Part Three

At last, a phoenix of sorts begins to emerge from the ashes. Admittedly, an egg carton shaped phoenix, but a phoenix nonetheless.

The last part of the exercise involved a lot of grinding and sanding. The last time we saw the bronze, it looked like this:

The remaining ceramic shell had to be jackhammered, drilled, sand- and bead-blasted off while still at the foundry. The bronze sprewing was cut off roughly with an angle grinder. And then a spiky, lopsided, grimly brown egg carton was returned to its proud mother.

Oh, the joy of pneumatic power tools! Back at uni, I spent a happy few hours playing with a small pneumatic disk sander, trying not to massacre the eggs while grinding the stumps of the sprewing off their bases.

The challenge was retaining as much of the natural texture of the eggs as possible, as the bronze was carrying a staggering amount of detail, even tiny hairline cracks and individual pores. In the end I hand finished the sanding, sitting in front of the heater at home with a bucket on my lap. The end result was pretty lovely.

All that was left to do was the patina. I didn’t want brassy looking eggs, so I made an appointment with the foundry to apply a silver nitrate patina to the finished piece.

The foundry sand blasted the carton and eggs to roughen up the surface so that it better absorbed the patina. They also very sweetly offered to engrave my signature on the carton so that in a thousand years time historians would know that this artifact was created by yours truly.

The carton was heated with a flame and rotated slowly on a turntable to distribute the heat evenly.

The silver nitrate was brushed on to the heated bronze and the bronze turned white instantly. The white then quickly faded into a soft grey green as the bronze cooled.

The silver nitrate gave the bronze an almost marble-like finish. To retain some sense of the original bronze, the carton was lightly angle-grinded (ground?) to reveal some gentle bronze highlights.

When the bronze had cooled to around body temperature, wax was brushed on to stop the sculpture from oxidising any further. It also gave the bronze a gentle sheen when buffed with a cloth.

And thus it ended.

The finished bronze is really stunning (but then, I’m biased!). The eggs have a gentle lustre and a beautiful weight to them. The silver nitrate is actually a very good colour match for the original egg carton so it feels like the most perfect version of the original object.

The piece has a very satisfying weight to it, around five kilos.

I’ve never been so proud.


~ by Niccola on June 17, 2010.

One Response to “How to magically transform a bronze bar into an egg carton – Part Three”

  1. […] Nothing made me feel more like a “real” sculptor than realising my work in bronze. It was a process that I described in incredible depth at the time. (Here, here, here and here). […]

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