lost wax technique


Massive Luristan Sword with Double Ear Pommel, 10th-9th Century BC

A magnificent, enormous bronze sword of the “double ear” pommel style, made using the lost wax casting technique by highly trained urban artisans for an elite member of a nomadic horse-riding clan. The blade was cast first, and then the handle was cast onto it - scans of similar swords have revealed tangs inside the handles. 4.75" W x 35.25" H (12.1 cm x 89.5 cm)

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Covered with a layer of ash from the fire that destroyed the city of Timna in the first century CE, the two bronze lions and their boyish riders were the most important discovery made by the expedition. The sophisticated modeling and treatment of the sculptures attest to the advanced bronze casting tradition in Arabia as well as to the familiarity of local artists with the technical and artistic language of the Greeks. The iconography of the pair might relate to the cult of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, who was also a popular figure in ancient Arabia. The lions and their riders were cast separately using the lost wax technique. Each one rests on a base with an inscription that reads, “Thuwayb and Aqrab dhu-Muhasni placed [these figures] at Yafash. Thuwayb and Aqrab of the Muhasni family decorated the house called Yafash.” The lions and their inscriptions play a critical role in establishing a chronology for the Qataban civilization and fixing its apogee in the first century CE.

hypnotoad4  asked:

I had a quick question, how did the ancient Egyptians mold gold into the sculptures that they wanted? I can imagine it must have been very hard to gather up and mold gold properly with so little technology available?

The Egyptians had a great deal of technology, it just didn’t work in the same way as ours. 

Gold (nbw) was one of the first metals to be exploited in Egypt. The gold of the mountains, as the scribes of Ramses III called it, was found mainly in the Eastern Desert and Nubia. The Koptos gold for instance was mined in the Bekhen mountains. Seti gave these mines to a small temple he had built and dedicated to Amen, Re, Osiris and a number of other gods. The workers mining the gold, the “flesh of the gods”, for the temple were exempt from any other work. 

In the Wadi Hammamat where gold-containing quartz was found, the underground quartz veins were mined by crushing the rock before the gold could be extracted. This required a great deal of manpower, provisioned only with difficulty in these deserted regions. Other pharaohs tried to follow Seti’s example by excavating wells in various location, with little success. Another attempt of Seti I resulted in a dry well 120 cubits deep which was abandoned. Only the perseverance of his son Ramses II brought success.
Before smashing the stone it was heated making it brittle and then broken up with stone hammers and in later times with iron chisels. The oval stone hammers were about twenty centimetres long, made of basalt or diorite and weighed from one to three kilogrammes. A wooden handle was inserted in a deep groove and fastened to it. The chunks of ore were smashed with small hammers and ground in mills similar to corn mills. The resulting dust was then washed and the metal extracted.
In Nubia two such installations for extracting gold were discovered. The ore was spread on declining surfaces, and the gold washed out which was then caught in some sort of sieve. Greek sources speak of sheep fleeces being used for this purpose. Wall reliefs dating from 2300 BC show stages of refining and working of gold.

The oldest map of a mine in existence - possibly dating to the Ramesside period - is that of a gold mine. It shows mountain ranges separated by parallel valleys, joined by a winding valley. A water cistern is marked, as is a stela of Seti I. Opposite these two landmarks are the openings of four galleries, further mine shafts are marked in the adjacent hill.

A 2001 article by D.Klemm, R.Klemm, & A.Murr (here as a PDF) would illuminate this further.

As for the working of gold, the Egyptians knew two kinds of bonding metals: welding and soldering. As early as the Middle Kingdom little pieces of jewellery were welded together. The part which had to be added had a melting point a bit below that of the main part, was heated until it became malleable and could be affixed. Then the whole artefact was heated over a ceramic furnace. A blowpipe with a clay nozzle were used to increase the heat.
 Because of the fact that the tongs were made of bronze with a melting point of 1030°C, below that of gold (1063°C) and barely above that of silver (950°C), quite a bit of dexterity was required of the artisan. Fast action was needed, before the tool could heat up too much.
 Soldering was known since the 4th dynasty at least. For soft-soldering tin (melting point 232°C) was used, when hard-soldering or brazing pieces of gold a mixture of gold, silver and frequently copper (melting point 1083°C) was applied. In order to de-oxidize the metal surfaces a flux was needed, possibly natron or lees of wine. Hard-soldering was often preferred to the easier process of soft-soldering as the artefact could be reheated without the bond melting.

(Scene from the tomb of Rekhmire, New Kingdom c.1500 BC) 

As for molds, they were usually done through the use of the lost wax technique. The Egyptians were practicing cire perdue from the mid 3rd millennium BC, shown by Early Dynastic bracelets and gold jewellery. Inserted spouts for ewers (copper water vessels) from the Fourth Dynasty (Old Kingdom) were made by the lost-wax method. Hollow castings, such as the Louvre statuette from the Fayum find appeared during the Middle Kingdom, followed by solid cast statuettes (like the squatting, nursing mother, in Brooklyn) of the Second Intermediate/Early New Kingdom. The hollow casting of statues is represented in the New Kingdom by the kneeling statue of Thutmosis IV (British Museum, London) and the head fragment of Ramesses V (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge). Hollow castings become more detailed and continue into the Eighteenth Dynasty, shown by the black bronze kneeling figure of Tutankhamun (Museum of the University of Pennsylvania). Cire Perdue is used in mass-production during the Late Period to Graeco-Roman times when figures of deities were cast for personal devotion and votive temple offerings. Nude female-shaped handles on bronze mirrors were cast by the lost-wax process. 

However, objects like the gold funerary mask of Tutankhamun were made from sheets of gold that were beaten and polished into shape. 

An article by T.G.H.James can be found here.

Information on mining and gold working taken from Reshafim (x) (x)

For further reading, I’d suggest Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology by I.Shaw and P.Nicholson.

Hittite Bronze, Silver and Electrum Mountain God Figurine, c. Mid-2nd Millennium BC

The technique used for the creation of this statuette is that of solid casting using the lost wax technique; the arms were cast separately and attached with the aid of a tenon and a rivet at the level of the shoulder blades. The eyes were inlaid. After the casting and the initial finishing by cold work, the surface of the bronze was covered with many sheets of silver (for the entire body and the skirt) and electrum (for the face, the beard and perhaps the crown) which were simply placed on the metal and hammered into rectilinear channels – which were already present from the casting – engraved in different places: under the arms, on the neck, on the head, etc. The silver plaques (torso, left leg, skirt) and the electrum ones are for the most part well preserved. Afterwards, perfect polishing allowed the artisan to almost completely hide the joins between the plaques. Cast with the feet, two cubic tenons pierced with a hole were used to fix the figure to its base.

The god wears a tall head covering that seems to imitate the white crown of Upper Egypt of the Pharaohs; the hole at the top of the hat may have been used to attach a vegetal decoration. The presence of the hat, which in Egypt had a precise political significance, is difficult to explain in a setting as far away as central Anatolia and worn by a divine figure at that.

The identity of this personage is hypothetical, especially because of the absence of any attributes, but the position and the general iconography suggest images of Teshub, the god of storms, who was one of the most important gods in Hittite pantheon (he corresponds to the Syrian Baal and the Mesopotamian Hadad): the particular structure of the skirt may be an allusion to the god of the mountain, who, in Hittite iconography, carries Teshub on his back.

Crowned Head of a Yoruba Oni - South African

1100 - 1700 CE

This is a naturalistic portrait of a Yoruban Oni. It is made of a metal alloy that is similar to bronze, by using the lost-wax technique or an independently developed technique. It would have been attached to a wooden effigy, or body of the king. These set ups were usually used in funerary rites. Although the portrait is idealized, the king was probably much older in person. And for the most part the face is very naturalistic, but the eyes are a bit too close together, the lips were made to be perfectly symmetrical, the cheeks are fleshier than they should be, and the ears are too high. The lines on the face are actually scarification lines, this can be part of a coming of age ritual and can be very dangerous.

Still Water by sculptor Nic Fiddian-Green, being installed at Ascot in 2010. Fiddian-Green has been creating horse sculptures for 30 years, inspired by a Fifth-century BC carving of a horse he saw at the British Museum. “All my work is on horses, they are the greatest animal,” he said.
“My family ride and I ride, it is an ancient culture which is part of our heritage.”
One of his most famous horse sculptures is at London’s Marble Arch. In fact a Philadelphia racetrack owner was so taken with it that he commissioned a similar head for his track. The 35-foot bronze sculpture, which was made using the “lost wax” technique.


THIS winged ibex was a handle for a metal amphora-shaped vessel, made in the 4th century BCE in Achaemenid Persia . This high level of detail was achieved through the use of lost-wax technique. 

It has been suggested that this piece of art resembles both the god Bes and the Greek god Silenus, which may indicate that a Greek artisan made this piece of art. 

Photo taken by: Jan van der Crabben 


actually here have some pictures of injured dinosaurs instead

i was gonna sleep and then i remembered i had to send pictures in for the senior art show so i figured i’d show you guys too

this is my piece “dinosaur icu,” it’s bronze, plaster, and wood

i made the dinos out of bronze using the lost-wax technique, and then patina’d and plastered ‘em up, then made and stained little stands for them

funny story about this- i was just gonna make little bronze dinosaurs for shits and giggles and then i fucked up the molds and i was like EH WELL LET’S JUST MAKE EM ALL INJURED I GUESS

admittedly i like this outcome more

3d printing has come a long way since I first looked into the technology.

Check it out.

http://youtu.be/BUfh5wxj3qA      Stereolithography  rapid prototyping plastics

http://youtu.be/7QP73uTJApw     Powder printer full color.

http://youtu.be/mx207UXtGxg      wax ring making 3d printer

http://youtu.be/tYtD8npiV-k       make magazine 3d printer buying guide some as cheap as $400