Sculpting and casting in metal
Making objects from metal casting is a craft that goes back thousands of years. Professional caster James Virgo talks about the process of casting metals and tells us about his creative career.
A career in casting
“My name is James Virgo. I’m a sculptor, inventor and artist rolled into one.
“I work at a foundry where I make castings and sculptures for people, or my own work.
"I’m a sculptor, inventor and artist rolled into one."
“It’s something I’ve always done. Even as I boy I always wanted to make things: come up with designs and ideas and turn them into something nice, something that looks beautiful.”
Casting an object
“At the foundry we use all different metals: bronze, brass, aluminium and iron.
“We will take an original piece, which may have to be sculpted, or I might sculpt it and put it together.
“I will take it to a foundry and put it inside a frame. It will be put into a sand mould.
“I ram the mould up and then take the top away from the bottom. I take the original piece out, cut a hole for the metal to go in, melt the metal, put the mould back together and then cast it.
“And that will form the shape that I’ve just made in the mould.”
Finishing the cast
"There’s a heritage to it: people have been doing it for hundreds of years."
“After that, I’ll take it out, knock it out, finish it and clean it up. It will go through a linishing process.
“I’ll wire brush it and polish it up. It’ll be sanded down and polished off. And then that’s the finished piece.
“There’s a heritage to it. People have been doing it for hundreds of years, making them in the same way, which is fascinating.”