Founding (non-ferrous metals)
The casting of non-ferrous metals, such as bronze, brass, gunmetal etc. See the separate entry for bell founding.
|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|
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.
- 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.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
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.