Currently viable crafts

 

Founding (non-ferrous metals)

 

The casting of non-ferrous metals, such as bronze, brass, gunmetal etc. See the separate entry for bell founding.

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category Metal
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK Bronze Age
Current no. of professionals (main income)
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required

 

History

The number of foundries is falling as part of a domino-effect from the loss of the British steel industry. For example, there used to be 140 foundries in Middlesborough, alongside a foundry college – today there is only one non-ferrous foundry left.

 

Techniques

  • Sand casting – where a pattern, made of wood or original item is placed in a sand box, sand rammed around it, the pattern removed and molten brass poured into the cavity. This includes bell founding.
  • Investment casting or lost wax – where a pattern is moulded in rubber, wax  facsimiles are formed from the mould, these facsimiles may be joined if there are many small ones in the form of a ‘tree’ inside a flask or, if the object is large a  form is made and  that is then filled with plaster. The flask is then heated in a kiln, the wax is melted out (lost) and molten metal is poured, sometimes under vacuum, into the cavities that remain in the flask
  • Shell casting – where the wax facsimile is dipped numerous times into a slurry until a shell is built up rather like battering fish. Once the shell has dried then the  wax is melted out and molten metal poured into the empty shell(s).
  • Die casting – where a negative of the desired finished object is engineered in metal and then injected with molten metal.
     

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

A list of foundries can be found on the UK Foundries and Scottish Foundries websites. This list includes both ferrous and non-ferrous foundries. The Cast Metals Federation website also offers a search facility for foundries.

 

Other information

 

References