The lost wax method of brass casting can be traced back in India over 6,000 years to the Indus Valley Civilization. The technique can create finely detailed pieces, and as the mold for each piece is destroyed in the process, each piece is one of a kind!
To create the brass pieces, a central mold in the general shape of the piece is created out of clay. Around this central piece, long, thin strips of wax are wound and molded to create the item. Sometimes designs are etched into the wax or built upon in order to create depth and intricate designs. Once the artist is happy with their creation, the wax is covered in river silt which can pick up the details in the wax. a small hole is left on the top and bottom of the piece. Once the river silt is dried, it is covered in another layer of harder clay, again leaving a small hole in the top and bottom.
When this clay is dry, the piece is heated until the wax melts and drains from the bottom hole. The bottom hole is plugged once the wax finishes draining. Then the brass is poured into the top hole until the empty space from the wax is filled. The brass is then left to cool. As soon as the brass is cooled for a few hours and is solid, the mold is broken away to reveal the finished product. While some larger pieces are sometimes done in parts and pieced together, the majority of brass items made by this method are completed as one piece.
This means that larger pieces are harder to complete as air can be trapped inside the mold if the wax does not melt away correctly or if air gets into the mold while the brass is poured. While there are often imperfections in each piece, those same imperfections give the brass its charm!
In the shop we carry a variety of brass items from bowls to jewelry to animal figurines. Some of which are vintage! As each item is handcrafted in this method, no two pieces are the same. And, throughout all of May, all our brass items are 10% off!
Photos by Urban Utopia Photography and Francesca Cohn.