Making a Splash in Metal

By: Trevor Gregg

There’s something mesmerizing about watching metal flow. Last semester I found myself wanting to explore the fluid quality of liquid bronze, so I decided to create several free-standing experimental sculptures. The process was different, and the results were more unpredictable, than with traditional bronze casting methods.

Traditionally, a mold would be crafted for the metal to be poured into, but I decided not to use any molds at all.

Instead I created several boxes of tightly packed damp sand, and spilled the liquid metal onto the flat surface. The sand had to be damp enough and packed tightly enough to absorb the heat of the metal. This isn’t a new process, even if it is a non-traditional one – Isaac Witkin made very large bronze sculptures without using molds by splashing liquid metal.

Because of the nature of the process, I had limited control over the shapes I would get in the end.

 

Some of the metal I splashed seemed to have its own character, and it didn’t need to be manipulated much at all to hold up as a sculptural form. For the above set of sculptures, I selected individual splashes with dynamic form. I warmed and gently bent the bronze into shape, and welded them onto simple steel bases with beveled edges. I chose to finish these three in the same blue-green patina, since they relate well with each other.

Most of my splashed bronze wasn’t inherently dynamic, so I worked several splashes together into something larger.

 

This sculpture stands at over two feet tall, and was created by welding together seven separate splashes. Since it has a completely different rhythm than the other pieces, it needed a different finish, something more experimental. I gave the surface a marbleized appearance by using three different colored patinas, heated with a torch.

What do you think? I find that when poured without a mold, bronze has a very unique quality!

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