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Francis Boateng's workshop courtyard
Workshop courtyard
le moule à bronze est enterré dans le cour
Burying a mould
melting the bronze for casting
Heating the bronze
molten bronze is a beautiful bright yellow
Breathtaking beauty

Breaking the mould
You can just see the bronze head in the broken mould
There she is
the bronze sculpture can be seen more and more as Francis breaks away the mould
A bit more...
The bronze head still has the air chimneys attached
Evacuation chimneys still attached

For our joint exhibition at the end of our collaboration Francis made ceramic pieces, and also bronze and brass figures.

First he made a basic original in clay. From this he made a two part plaster mould. He then pressed sheets of wax into the two halves, and fused the resulting shells together to make a hollow wax version of his original. Wax details were then added until he had the model he wanted. This was cast in a plaster mould, which was placed upside down in his pottery kiln and heated, so that the wax melts and flows out, leaving a hole inside the plaster in the shape of his sculpture.

I was at his workshop glazing some of my work one day when he and his workers were casting bronzes. He was proud of being the only Ghanaian sculptor who cast his own bronzes, and rightly so.

He is full of ingenious ideas for how to find a way round the problems of doing it under local conditions. The raw material for the bronze came from the boat scrap yard at Tema docks. Broken boat propellers, marine fittings, and anything else in bronze, brass & copper can be put aside for him. The copper wire I used for the legs and necks of my birds was sections of heavy duty electrical cable that came from the same source (it took a few of us a while to strip, untwist and straighten the wires). The wax he uses for the moulds is beeswax, as it resists the local temperature. His plaster moulds, cast inside adjustable size sections of oil drum, are full of bits of broken pottery. This helps the mould to not split when the molten bronze is poured into it at very high temperature. Because of the risk of the moulds splitting they dug holes in the dirt courtyard of his workshop compound, and the moulds were semi buried in these holes to hold them firm. If a mould splits there is only a fine sliver of bronze that escapes into the crack - which can easily be removed afterwards. After cooling for a while the moulds were dug out. They were still hot, so one way of lifting them out of the hole is to protect yourself from the heat by putting an old pair of jeans on your arms as "gloves". The moulds were then broken open to reveal the bronze figure, which was covered in remnants of the plaster. The piece then had to be trimmed, cleaned, and polished.

Well done Francis.

the molten bronze is poured into the moulds
Molten Bronze
Francis' home made bronze casting method
Pouring the bronze
into the mould
the plaster mould being unearthed while still hot
Digging the
mould out
Put the mouse
on a picture
to enlarge it
roughly trimming the bronze sculpture of a woman's head
Rough trimming
Francis Boateng's disarmed warrior sculpture
The Disarmed
Aba House
My Work (in Ghana)


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