Monday, March 5, 2012

A home business idea. Become a baby casters

Millions of babies are born every year... This is a business waiting to be captured, captured in bronze that is. 

This is a $5,000 per week home business for stay at home mums or anyone with a few hours of spare time every week.  Too good to be true? believe me, this is not a scam.

It is fairly easy to do something like this:

With a bit of dental alginate and some plaster of Paris you make these charming mementos in a less than 1/2 hour, quick and easy.

Parents and grand-parents are keen to preserve the tiny hands and feet of their new born. This is so incredibly cute and will not stay that way very long...

You can sell these plaster castings for $150. Depending where you live and how well you advertise you could easily make 10 per week, without spending much time at all. A nice little side income for stay at home mums with an artistic inclination.

$1,500 per week is good, $5,000 is better. You may not find 30 babies to cast every week, and then it becomes too much hard workk. But If you made these 10 in bronze instead of plaster, you could charge $500 each instead of $150... a much better return for not much more work....

The same hand cast in bronze is sold $500 instead of $150.

Bronze is a truly noble and durable material. Plaster can be easiliy damaged and will not last where bronze is an heirloom quality piece of work.

Do you think this is too hard, too much hard work, too dangerous and costly, requiring too much investment in heavy machinery? Think again. Casting such small objects in bronze can be cheap, easy, quick and anyone can do this in their backyard. More on this later.

Your business could be up and running in week or two.
Here are the steps.

1- Teach yourself body casting by practicing with your friends, neighbours or family. All you need to do is to make two or three hands or feet in plaster until you are confident enough to advertise the service.  This is fairly easy to do and does not require any particular skills. Basically, if you can bake a pie you are clever enough to make a baby's hand in plaster.
You will find plenty of information on the Internet on how to cast a baby's hand or foot. I suggest you download my "Body Casting Manual"  It will show you the basics principle and advanced techniques in easy to follow step by step instructions.

More importantly, the Body Casting Manual tells you excately what products to buy, how much you will require and where to buy it from around the world. You only need $100 or less to get started...

Take many pictures of all the hands and feet you make.

2- Advertise. Once you have made 2 or 3 castings you are ready to advertise your business.
This is how I would go about it:
a) Create a web site such as this one. This is very easy even if you are not a computer expert. basically, If you can compose and send an email, you probably know enough to create a blog.
You open a Google account and get a Gmail email address. This is free. Then you open a Google Blogger account and start creating your web site. This is also free. You'll quickly get the hang of it.
You want to tell your web site visitors about your business: services, work samples, customer testimonials, your adress, contact details, your price list etc.... be personal, talk about you and add as many photos as possible. Add an FAQ answering questions you think prospective customers may have. This should take you a couple of evenings and cost you nothing.
b) Advertise in the printed media such as your local rag. This is not free. Once you have decided on a business name and logo, design a small ad and run it twice a month. The editors of your local paper can help you with this. This is likely to cost you about $30 every fortnight. Make sure your web site adress is included in the ad.
c) You can also get a business card printed.
d) Contact all the midwives you can find to inform them of the service, send them packs of your business card.

3- Grow the business. Fairly quickly you will have a stream of young parents walking to your door. Once you have done this for a few weeks or months, you are ready to take the business further and start making some real money.
There are two ways to expand:
a) start offering pregnancy castings as well as baby's hands and feet. However this is a much larger enterprise requiring more tools, mor material, more space, perhaps the help of an assistant. Not imposiible of course but do you really want to work hard?
b) start casting in bronze and charge far more for your product. This is the best way to grow your business. You could obviously send your plaster casting to the local art foundry to be cast in bronze. This is nor work at all for you but the Foundry will cahrge you a lot of money and you cannot really charge it back to your customer, you would become prohibitively expensive. In effcet the foundry is making money, not you.  The only way to make it a success if to cast the bronze yourself....

4- Casting a small object in bronze such as a baby's hand or foot is not very difficult, in fact it is fairly easy. 
1-You make an alginate mold of the baby's hand as normally done. 5 minutes
2-You then pour molten wax inside the mold instead of plaster. ( 5 minutes. )
3-You then attach a wax tube and a wax cup at the base of the wax hand or foot ( 5 minutes)
4-The wax tube and wax cup have been previously made. You can mak 10 of each in one hour.
5-You then construct a ceramic mold arounf the wax hand, tube and foot. This is done by painting a liquid mixture in several layers. It takes about 5 minutes per layer.
6- Once the ceramic layers are dry, you melt the wax out of the mold with a gas torch attached to a barbecue gas bottle. You can easily melt 10 molds in 1/2 hour.
7- You can then melt some bronze in a home made furnace, still using the same torch and gas bottle. Then pour the molten metal inside the mold.
8- Once cold (3 hours later) break the mold to reveal the baby's hand in bronze (5 minutes)
9- Cut off the tube with a hack saw ( 5 minutes)
10- Clean the finished bronze et voila !

This is the basic process. There is a bit more to it obviously, but once you have done it 3 or 4 times it will seems as easy as 1, 2, 3...
You will need about one Kg  (2 lb) of metal for one bronze hand. If you were to make 10 a week, you could melt 10 kg and cast them all in one morning. 10 Kg (22 lb) is not very heavy and even if you are not a strong person, I bet you can easily lift and carry 10 kg.

5- How to learn? You will obvioulsy want to practice and learn all this before advertising your bronze casting services. There are several ways to go about it.
1- try it yourself. Find info on the internet, buy stuff, and go for it... I strongly recommend that you do not do that. This is sure to lead you to great frustrations, wasted materials and loss of time and money.
2- Attend one the workshop that many foundries are organising around the world. This isa good way to learn bronze casting techniques. BUT Most of these workshops are run by foundry who are equipped with heavy tools and will not show you a process that you can easily reproduce at home. These workshops are also fairly expensive. See a list of workshops in the Link section of this site.
3- Download my book, the "Bronze Casting Manual" and follow the steps by steps instructions.
This is a no nonsense instructions manual that will have you make a small object in bronze in a few days and to high degree of quality. No previous experience is necessary and the tools and equipment needed are easy to find. Basically, anyone with a bit of space such as a backyard and a carport can do this at home.
By implementing the techniques described in the book, you will quickly gain confidence and cast baby hands, quickly, safely, cheaply.

My lastest bronze sculpture

a small figurine in bronze.

H140mm * W130mm * L150mm
H5.5in *  W5in * L6in

Date of execution: February 2012
Original edition of 20
This piece represents a young woman modelled in a burlesque pose reminiscent of the Art Nouveau style. Its elegant and seductive  aspect would fit perfectly in a  traditional interior but would also bring a touch of classicism in a contemporary decor.

Here is my model Dee. She did not have to stay like this for any lenght of time. I just took some pictures of her pose and used these images as reference in the studio. 

The original being worked on in my studio.

I love modelling in wax. This is a fantastic sculpting medium. Cheap, easy and very versatile. It reflects the light beautifully. It has many advantages over alternatives such as clay, Plastiline and other modelling compounds. At room tempearture it can be carved or filed like wood, cold it can be machined like plastic or stone, at your body temperature it can be modelled like clay, It can molten and painted on, parts can be welded together and broken off again. Unlike clay it does not dry, you can just leave it anywhere, at any stage and pick it up later, even much later exactely as you left it. Another big advantage is that it sustains it own weight. There is no need to construct an armature. And of course it can be cast into a mold to make copies of a part you want to replicate...

I think I'll write a wax working manual to show interested parties a few pointers. Not enough people are sculpting in wax.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bronze Casting Practical Workshop

On Beautiful Waiheke Island, New Zealand.

This 5 or 4 day practical workshop teaches the lost wax technique as used by modern art foundries. The process has been adapted and scaled down to make it easily achievable.
The workshop demystifies the bronze casting process and is suitable to anyone over the age of 16.
Sculptors, ceramicists, glass artists, wood carvers, furniture and classical boat restorers, DIY enthusiasts, art students, craft people, model makers, jewellers and goldsmiths and any creative person wanting to expand their skills and knowledge.
 No previous experience necessary

This is a list of what students have been making during the workshop:
- a human torso
- a small bust (head and shoulder)
- a small human figure
- a small animal (cat, dog, gorilla, snake, hedgehog, fish, dolphin etc…)
- a pendant (Tiki)
- a medallion
- a fantasy figure
- a bracelet
- a small vessel
- a flax flower
- a book stop
- a belt buckle
- a knife handle
- a walking stick handle
- a drawer pull
- Anything your mind that can conceive and your hands can shape in one day.

Watch a video of the technique used during the workshop.

More bronze casting workshops around the world

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Small figurine cast in bronze

This small figurine is an example of the kind of object the hobbyist can cast at home with the lost wax technique.

This kind of small bronze casting does not require much equipment at all and can be done over a few days by almost anyone.

This unique and elegant pitch mark repairer tool is not only an indispensible golf accessory but also an elegant and highly collectible work of art cast in solid bronze.

It is available for purchase to discerning collectors from (free shipping anywhere in the world.)

If you want to learn the lost wax technique and cast your own small bronze objetc by yourself, I recommend that you follow the step by step instructions provided in my "Bronze Casting Manual"  I guarantee you that at the issue of the 5 days practical project you will have gained enough confidence to cast your own bronze by yourself, at little costs and to a high degree of quality.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How much details can be reproduced in Bronze?

The image below shows how much details can be faithfully reproduced in bronze with the lost wax and ceramic shell technique.

This is a finger of my son Tim when he was 13 years old. See the details on the fingerprints clearly visible in the metal.

A silicone rubber mold was first taken directly over his thumb. In this negative mold, a positive wax was cast. A negative ceramic shell was then constructed over this positive wax. Finally molten metal was cast into the ceramic negative to make this amazingly accurate reproduction of his thumb.

No details was lost during the process. This is obviously a double edged sword as any tiny defect is also faithfully reproduced..

Read morre on

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Learning to cast your own bronze at home...

If you are thinking of casting your bronze yourself, you have come to the right place.

Casting yourself will save you much money.

In this blog you'll find many resources to guide you through all the steps to set up your small home foundry and start casting small bronzes, cheaply, safely and to a high degree of quality.

- A tutorial taking you step by step through a 5 days project at the end of which you will have cast a small bronze object by yourself and learnt the basics of bronze casting.
- A number of video tutorials demonstarting the process.
- A public forum where you can discuss technical issues with fellow sculptors.
- A wealth of articles and resources...

Dewaxing a ceramic shell.

Happy casting,