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Article: Lost-wax casting

Lost-wax casting

Introduction and Process of Lost-Wax Casting

  • Lost-wax casting, also known as investment casting, precision casting, or cire perdue
  • Duplicate sculptures are cast from an original sculpture
  • Oldest known examples date back to approximately 6,500 years ago
  • Found in various ancient civilizations such as Indus Valley and Mesopotamia
  • Model-making: Original model created from wax, clay, or other materials
  • Mouldmaking: Mould made of original model, usually with latex or silicone
  • Wax: Molten wax poured into mould to create a coating
  • Removal of wax: Hollow wax copy of the model is removed from the mould
  • Chasing: Marks and imperfections on the wax copy are removed
  • Additional Steps: Spruing, slurry, burnout, testing, pouring
  • Finishing the Casting: Release, metal-chasing, filing down pits and sprue stubs

Lost-Wax Casting in Jewellery and Small Parts

  • Wax model obtained from injection into a rubber mould or custom-made by carving
  • Wax or waxes are sprued and fused onto a sprue base
  • Investment (refractory plaster) is poured into the flask and hardened
  • Casting is done using centrifugal casting or vacuum casting

Lost-Wax Casting in Different Regions and Cultures

  • Textiles: Wax and textile are replaced by metal during casting process
  • Glass sculptures: Lost-wax casting process used in production of cast glass sculptures
  • Archaeological history: Examples found in various ancient civilizations such as Varna Necropolis, Nahal Mishmar hoard, Mesopotamia
  • Black Sea: Cast gold objects found in burial mounds of ancient horse riding tribes
  • Middle East: Oldest known examples found in Nahal Mishmar hoard in southern Land of Israel, used in Mesopotamia and Sumer
  • Ancient Mediterranean: Examples found in Sardinia, Italy, and Etruscan bronze sculptures
  • Ancient Greece: Limited availability of examples, underwater statues and shipwrecks as evidence
  • East Asia: Rise of lost-wax casting in China and Japan
  • Southeast Asia: Bronze casting in Thailand and Vietnam
  • Africa and the Americas: Lost-wax casting tradition in Nigeria, Benin, Colombia, and Mexico

Literary and Direct Evidence of Lost-Wax Casting

  • Allusions and mentions of lost-wax casting in early literary works from ancient Rome and Greece
  • Indian literary sources such as the Shilpa Shastras and Vishnusamhita describe the use of wax for casting metal objects
  • Theophilus Presbyter's treatise provides step-by-step procedures for lost-wax casting and examples of articles made using this method

Other Information and References

  • Gallery: Examples of bronze sculptures cast using the lost-wax process
  • Related techniques: Fusible core injection molding
  • References: The Oxford English Dictionary definition of cire perdue, scholarly articles, and books on lost-wax casting.

Lost-wax casting Data Sources

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