Casting Ancient Bronze in a Modern Light by

Issue 59 · L'Amour · February 11, 2013

Casting Ancient Bronze in a Modern Light

Issue 59 · L'Amour · February 11, 2013

In the world of Ochre, the iterative process of designing and making is as beautiful as the end product itself; especially in the magical Seed Cloud chandelier, where the process used to cast hundreds of bronze stems comes from another age with a technique that can be dated back at least 5,000 years.

Intrigued by the courses they had taken in traditional craft techniques in art school, Harriet Maxwell Macdonald and Joanna Bibby founded Ochre, their home furnishings brand with shops in New York and London, and set about reinterpreting their lessons in modern ways. The ancient and evocative Lost-Wax casting process beckoned as they searched for a technique to realize their nature-inspired designs. “Few people have any idea of the research and craftsmanship that go into the production of this particular design,” New York-based Maxwell Macdonald says. “We decided to make a series of workshop images in order for our clients to feel closer to the process, and also understand the complexity and skill that go into these beautiful pieces.”

Unless otherwise noted, photography by Kristin Perers.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, Damselfly Wall Light

Above: The Damselfly Wall Light in its entirety. Photography by Ditte Isager.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, finished arm of Damselfly Wall Light

Above: A finished arm of the Damselfly Wall Light has two Seed Clouds. "Our pieces require a great deal of engineering, as evidenced in the LED bulb that has been sunk into the arm," Maxwell Macdonald says.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, Seed Cloud, Rectangular 56 Bud, Whippet Table

Above: The Seed Cloud, Rectangular 56 Bud hangs above the Whippet Table, a recent addition to the Ochre collection. "As a product it evolves, it takes on its own life," Maxwell Macdonald says. "Thinner, fatter, or in the case of the Seed Cloud, needing more friends?"

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, pouring molten wax into silicon molds

Above: Molten wax is poured into silicon molds. The molds are held together by elastic bands.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, opening the silicon molds

Above: Opening the silicon molds after they have cooled and the wax has set reveals the hollow wax copy of the original mold.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, heating up the crucible in the Crucible Foundry

Above: Heating up the crucible, which is used for melting the bronze.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, Damon Rawnsley, Sam Dalton

Above: Damon Rawnsley and Sam Dalton, founders of the Crucible Foundry in their London workshop. Maxwell Macdonald and Bibby met Dalton at the City and Guilds where he was teaching sculpture.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, pouring the molten bronze into plaster molds

Above: Pouring the molten bronze into the plaster molds. The original wax shapes have been melted out.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, polished and finished piece

Above: Finished pieces of the Seed Cloud Chandelier.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process

Above L: The plaster is hammered away to reveal the bronze "tree". Above R: The bronze pieces after they have been polished and finished.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, finished pieces waiting to be soldered

Above: The finished pieces await soldering.

Ochre Seed Cloud, ancient bronze casting technique, Lost-Wax casting process, soldering the pieces of the Damselfly Wall Light

Above: The Damselfly Wall Light is being soldered together.

N.B.: Has the Lost Wax casting technique inspired you to seek more bronze moments? See 65 images of Bronze from lighting to door handles in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.



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