Casting Baby Ava’s Hand in Bronze


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They say every cloud has a silver lining… well in this case it was bronze.

I was asked to make a bronze cast of baby Ava’s hand as a birthday present for her Granddad. I went round to her house take the preliminary casts for the process, making several impressions to ensure at least one perfect one.

The moulds were then taken to my studio, prepared for casting and a series of polymer resin positive casts were made. One of these casts was chosen to go forward to be cast in bronze. This cast was then worked on to bring it up to the high standard of finish required, with no air bubbles etc.

Preliminary cast in polymer resin is now ready to go to the foundry to start the bronze-casting process

With a very tight deadline of around four weeks, my usual foundry was unable to guarantee turnaround, so I was faced with finding another. After several phone calls I managed to locate an art bronze foundry who said they could do it in the time-frame at a cost which was still in budget. All seemed to be going well until I got a phone call which I had been dreading…. there had been a mishap at the foundry! Arghh!, It turns out that it was much more of a disaster for them than me. They had got my job ready to pour, and were heating up the charge of bronze to the 1000 odd degrees necessary for pouring, when the crucible cracked and all that metal fell into the bottom of the furnace ruining it beyond salvation. Bad news for them and their insurers. My ceramic shell mould with the precious impression of Ava’s hand were however mercifully intact. They were very apologetic that they could no longer fulfil their brief on time but handed over the shell for me to find another foundry prepared to finish the job.

I frantically rang other foundries, but was unable to find one that could help me in the timeframe or within the budget I had. Then miraculously I stumbled upon James Virgo who lives just around the corner from my workplace and has a foundry in Charlton. He was happy to do the pour, was planning to do a bronze pour later that week and was even amenable to my going down to watch and film the process, which made it even more exciting. It also meant that I got to work on the rough cast and bring it up to a lustrous finish myself which was a lovely process. The commission was finished off by the addition of a hand-made plinth in solid Iroka wood and a Hand-Engraved inscription on the flat, polished surface.

Thanks to James and his team I was able to finish the commission including the engraving ahead of schedule to a very grateful client. I think because of my greater involvement with the casting process than usual, I particularly enjoyed the whole commission and loved the feel and weight of the finished article.

Beautiful detailing and lovely warm tones are hallmarks of solid bronze casts

Bronze is definitely forever and a bronze hand or foot cast is a wonderful and enduring present. The film is shown below. Thanks to Lorenzo Ali for additional photography and Lorraine for piano soundtrack: ‘Comptine d’une autre ete’