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Earl Basom: Master Sculptor and The Cowboy of Cowboy Artists

The Lost Wax Bronze Casting Process

The lost wax bronze casting process is used to cast each of the Earl Bascom works offered through Bascom Productions. The total casting process takes several weeks from start to completion. When one combines this time with the weeks, even years the artist takes to create the original bronze, one can see why such works of art are so highly valued.

It should be noted that John Bascom, son of the artist, is personally responsible for directing and coordinating all aspects of foundry quality control and quality assurance for Bascom Productions. John is pictured here hard at work inspecting waxes, bronzes and patinas during each phase of the art production process.

Like his father, John Bascom is also an artist. John has a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts with a specialization in foundry operation and foundry management. When Earl Bascom was alive, the Bascom's, under John's direct supervision, managed their own foundry. Today, Bascom Productions is most fortunate to have John Bascom play the critical role of coordinating and directing all production aspects for the Bascom Collection.

John's singular purpose in his business life is to make certain each purchaser of selected pieces from the Bascom Collection receive the very best possible representation of his father's works of fine art. In this sense, he is meticulous in his pursuit of perfection.

Below is a step-by-step overview of the lost wax bronze casting process.

1. Original Sculpture

The first step begins with the artist creating an original sculpture. This is usually created from wax or clay, though other materials can be used as well.

2. Rubber Mold

A flexible mold is made from the artist's original. This mold captures every detail put into the artist's original work, and is one of the most critical phases in the bronze process. This mold is used to create duplicates of the original design.

3. The Wax Casting

The molds are then used to form wax figures; molten wax is poured into the rubber mold, producing a perfect copy of the original sculpture. The wax casting is removed from the mold, and a trained artisan hand-finishes the wax pattern to original perfection. Each wax casting is treated as if it were an original work of art.

4. Spruing

Wax rods, called gates, are attached to the wax pattern to allow the even flow of molten metal and to alleviate the trapping of air and gas. A sprue cup is placed onto the wax to receive the molten bronze.

5. Investing

The wax is then coated with an "investment," a liquid refractory ceramic. Several layers are applied creating a stable mold which is allowed to cure for several days.

6. Burn-Out

The piece, now coated in ceramic shell, is fired in a kiln. This bakes the shell and eliminates the wax, leaving a cavity in its place. Hence, the term LOST WAX.

7. Casting

The ceramic shell is removed from the kiln and molten bronze is immediately poured into the form. The bronze is poured at a temperature of 2100° Fahrenheit. (Bronze is an alloy of 95% copper, .02% lead, .02% tin, .06% zinc, 4% silicon.)

8. Breakout

After cooling for several hours, the ceramic shell is carefully broken away, revealing the bronze sculpture within.

9. Sand Blasting

Fine sand particles are blasted under air pressure to remove the last traces of ceramic shell that adheres to the bronze.

10. Finishing

An artisan cuts away the sprues and gates. Then by grinding, chasing, sanding and polishing, all areas are blended back to make the bronze look exactly like an artist's original sculpture.

11. Patina

The chased bronze is now treated with chemicals and heat to give it the chosen color according to the artist's specifications. The patina is sealed under a wax coating and becomes a permanent part of the sculpture.

Each piece of Bascom Fine Art Sculpture passes through the hands of over 30 skilled craftsmen, artisans and others before it reaches you, the collector.

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