Ancient Art Concepts: Lost Wax Casting

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Lost Wax Casting

The lost wax casting system was an ancient Egyptian invention that impacted the global art of sculpture for dynasties to come. The Zoa dynasty of China adopted the Egyptian style and called it the piece-mold system. Today, a process not unlike the original Egyptian style is used in the casting of art and industrial tools using a ceramic shell. Lost wax casting begins with a hollowed hard clay base core. The base core is then covered with beeswax. The artisan would then carve the design into the beeswax with his tools. Next, fine damp sand would be applied all over the sculptural design which allowed the intricacies of the design to be highlighted. A drainage cup and pipes are attached below the sculpture next. The whole structure is then covered and sealed in wet clay. A hole for drainage is carved into the structure so that the wax can drain. High heat is applied to the structure and the molten wax begins to drain into the cup. The newly hollowed space creates a mold. The structure is now turned upside down and molten metal such as gold is poured inside. The structure sits underground to harden and cool for at least two days. Finally, the artisan hammers away the outer clay, revealing a beautiful and unique handcrafted piece of art. One of the most famous examples of art crafted from the the lost wax casting process was the funerary mask of young King Tutankhamun. The 18th dynasty mask was fashioned from pure gold with semi-precious stones.
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