Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bronze casting in Drogheda with Sean O Dwyer

The Traveller, oil painting by Sean O Dwyer

Wednesday evening I got the chance to work with painter, sculptor and now bronze casting enthusiast Sean O Dwyer as he starts his Bronze on the Boyne project.

My friend Sean is at a well developed stage in bringing this to life. Although a well established artist and teacher, he feels that this project could bring a lot to anyone wanting to learn the skill.

The project brings the participant from making a small clay sculpture into learning how to make a mould, preparing a wax and investing in a unique form of ceramic, into finally casting and finishing the piece in bronze.
I tried to capture much of the experience on the phone camera, but a low battery didn't help. However, I got to see parts of how a project like this is done:
  • A mould is prepared ready to take the molten bronze

  • Pieces of bronze are chosen for melting and are cut down to size

  • A furnace is lit (heated with butane) up to approximately 1200 degrees with the crucible holding the bronze inside

  • When molten, the bronze is poured into the mould and allowed to set. This can take about 30 minutes

Because of the high heat, the molten metal and the short cooling time the practise involves a certain amount of coordination and teamwork. It also requires heavy fireproof safety equipment which made us look like two extras from Spamalot.

As with his previous casting, Sean is eager to document this process, which meant Niamh and I worked together on videoing the project, which hopefully will make an appearance on his blog soon.

I finally worked out how to Qik from my phone (there you go Damien!) so I conducted a short interview and talk about the project with him:

Speaking as an artisan - istic ignoramus, I found the entire procedure fascinating. The tireless preparation that goes into getting things ready for the pour, the delicate balance between the correct heat and time of pouring, the procedure of getting the molten metal from the furnace to the mould is all so integral that you'd have to wonder how artists created such works in our own Bronze age, lasting nearly 2,000 years from about 2200BC.

More work needs to be done, but the learning is just as interesting. I look forward to being educated more about the process and being involved again. Plus, I like wearing the safety gear ;-)

You'll find Sean online at and you can read his blog here.


  1. Your interview was great. And, oh, I'd love to have a go at making a bronze casting. Especially now I've seen it being done.

  2. Thanks Darragh, It was great having you and Niamh there yesterday. You did a terrific job in helping me out. You work fast and effectively in your medium. The "qik" video looked great too. I will send you along the images of the finished piece soon.

  3. Every day you add another string to your bow!

    When can I order my Bronze, made by you, of course! ;)

  4. @coastal aussie - thanks for the comment :) I had fun, and it was very interesting. If you ever get the chance, give it a go!

    @Sean O Dwyer - thanks Sean. I'm not sure how "terrific" I was, but the process was interesting and gave a real insight into how much work is involved in something that looks so simple.

    @grannymar - thank you. I'm lucky to get the opportunities that I do. I'd love to introduce you to Sean some time, I think you'd be very impressed :)

    @Darren - yes, yes, yes?

  5. darragh,

    i never knew you had it in you mate.. the things you learn here... well done you mate agus bulaidh bós.

    slán go foill [and seriously well done]


  6. Great piece Darragh, Having seen some of Seans work I'm sure this will be a success.

    Best of luck Sean.