Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tentative Metal Casting Workshop Scheduled

The Curran Homestead has tentatively planned its second metal casting workshop with Peter Grant to be offered on Saturday, June 12, 2010, 9AM-3PM; there will be a break for lunch. The workshop is entitled "Make Your Own Sandcasting Pattern and Bring It."

This second workshop, which will review a portion of the material covered in the first metalcasting workshop, will focus exclusively on the sandcasting and small refractory lined propane fueled forges that we will be working with, so new attendees are welcome and won't come to the thing with a disadvantage. The first workshop was a comprehensive overview of all types of metalcasting whereas this won't be; it will ony address safety and the process associated with a small propane fueled forge. This tentative workshop will likely not be limited to only an aluminum melt as the first workshop was;we may try our hand at a bronze melt as well using another crucible we plan to purchase with monies garnered from our first metal melt. The site of the melt will be the open equipment shed at The Curran Homestead, so rain will not effect the outcome of the planned program.

The cost per hands-on student (limited to five for safety reasons) is tentatively set at 35 dollars, which will partially be used to buy more expendible crucibles and scrap metal, aluminum and brass, for melting down in the future. The cost for onlooker students is 15 dollars.If you are seriously interested in being a hands-on student, or an onlooker, please email me ( You can only reserve a spot as a hands-on student by paying by check made payable to: "The Curran Homestead." This check can be delivered in person to The Bangor Letter Shop, Penobscot Plaza, 99 Washington St., Bangor, ME. The five hands-on student places will likely be reserved quickly so let me know ASAP. Onlookers can pay the 15 dollar fee in person at the Bangor Letter Shop, or simply pay on the day of the workshop; please email me beforehand letting me know that you plan on coming as we would like an idea of our potential turnout. All are welcome. Since this is the last saturday of the Tuesday night class for free forge use, people who will be coming to the smithy from this last class of the Spring schedule will not have to pay to be an onlooker for this workshop ( if you want to be a hands-on participant then the fee is the same as everyone else).

The idea behind this workshop is that a pattern/replica can be made by the metalcasting student on his/her own, and that will be brought to the workshop and set into a mold frame holding the sand that will receive the impression of it. Pattern/replicas are made out of a number of materials including wood, styrofoam ( you will want something very dense, like the blue insulating styrofoam insulation sheeting as it will need to hold sharp details when you carve it), neoprene (?), ceramic, among others.

The potential student can do some independent research on suitable materials for the purpose on the Internet, and this is recommended by Peter, but you might first want to consider how many times you want to make a casting. A wood pattern/replica allows you to make castings over and over again whereas more ephemeral materials might break down, get damaged, and lose desirable details through use. For my own purposes, I plan on trying fast-drying clay. I have experience with ceramics, and I believe I can obtain the desired detail for my project with little effort, and I am not concerned with using my pattern more than once. Of course, wood is more desirable, but I don't presently have tools like a lathe, router,and chisels to make the process seemingly easier. What material you choose may depend on what it is you want to reproduce. In our first workshop a rammer tool was made for each student that would serve them in their preparation of a sandcasting mold in the future. In creating your pattern you should keep in mind that this will be pressed into a mold frame containing a 8 inch square surface area of moist sand. In planning this you might draw a box that is 8 inch square on paper and see what you can fit within those limited parameters.

One of the things we wish to accomplish is to create a bronze plaque to be mounted on the flat face of a boulder at the Curran farm. The boulder will be incorporated into a circular field surround that will contain a planned perennial garden. This plaque will identify one of our generous donors at The Curran Homestead. Peter has recently come up with a process of using stick on lettering to make patterns for plaques and nameplates. We will attempt to do this in bronze.

Let me know, if you are interested.

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