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cost of casting
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Kelly Thiel



Joined: 07 May 2010
Posts: 8
Location: Charleston, SC

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:35 pm    Post subject: cost of casting Reply with quote

Holy Smokes! I don't know how artists afford the casting costs of making a bronze! I just got a bid from two different foundries (that were recommended to me by fellow artist) and how in the world do you guys pay for this? I knew it was expensive and labor-intensive, but what if the sculpture doesn't sell?? then do you end up broke with lots of bronze works sitting around your house?? I'm new to bronze casting, been working in fired clay sculpture for a while, but the initial cost of bronze is very scary to me. Any advice?
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Heidi Maiers
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Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 1223
Location: Near Portland OR

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's expensive, no doubt - but like making the original sculpture, is all labor. Check with more than 3 foundries. I've gotten bids on the same piece ranging from $600 to $2800. I went with the $600 and the quality was better and turnaround faster than other pieces I'd had made by the $2800 bid company.
My theory is to only do bronze when the customer is paying (in advance!). I can't afford to make them myself and hope they sell. I did that twice in the past 10 years, and they are both still sitting in my living room (and were both made by the expensive foundry). Ouch.
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Last edited by Heidi Maiers on Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Kelly Thiel



Joined: 07 May 2010
Posts: 8
Location: Charleston, SC

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Heidi. I will search out bids from 2 more foundries for a total of 4. I do have a potential buyer already for this piece, but I wonder how she will react to the price of the piece... How is an artist supposed to build a body of work for a gallery at these prices?? I guess the answer is slowly, over time, with buyers paying for the initial casting. Whew. Talk about getting cold feet! Shocked Thanks for the advice on how you manage it. I have so much to learn...
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Heidi Maiers
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Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 1223
Location: Near Portland OR

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a side note, be wary of foundries that have a lot of overhead to pay for Ė large fancy buildings, fancy equipment, a large staff to support, etc. Those things are nice for them to have as a company, but itís the customer who ends up paying for those things which are above and beyond the cost of the labor involved in making your piece. The place I use has hardly any overhead Ė warehouse type of setup in the middle of nowhere, just a few talented guys running it, and no staff. Itís a little hard to get a hold of them sometimes because there is no receptionist, but they always answer their phone messages and email eventually. On a recent job, the guy quoted me a sum and I paid him upfront. When I went to pick it up, he said that it didnít cost that much to make and gave me a credit for nearly 30% of what I paid him. In return, I was able to credit my customer, which is good for my business as well. I really appreciate the honest businessman and he will for sure get more of mine!

You are right though. I donít know how artists are able to supply galleries with bronze pieces at all. Especially in light of the fact that the gallery takes 50% retail and you have to pay the foundry. That usually means practically 0% for the artist cut. Unless you are filthy rich and doing it just for fun, I donít get it either Ė which is why I only work on commission and only do bronze if requested by the client. I was in a gallery for 10 years, but 100% of the pieces I supplied them with were ceramic originals Ė which as you know are much cheaper to produce.
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Lori



Joined: 11 Jan 2008
Posts: 264
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that honest insight, Heidi. I have been pondering the same dilemma. I did galleries as a painter for 10 years. When I started the galleries took 30-40% and it was viable. Later it became 50% and combined with the costs of materials, framing, photography and shipping, it was no longer a good option.

I can't imagine the cost of shipping ceramic or bronze sculptures to a gallery outside of your driving area.
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kelly,

The other option is to not go into bronze but have all your works ready to by having the molds made. Invest in the cost of making molds yourself and then just make plaster casts for the time being. Use those plasters to go to galleries.

Sometimes getting works casts in bronze early on isn't always a good idea since we may advance and later look back and see the errors in the early work.

~Tamara
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Thaine Sprenger



Joined: 28 Feb 2009
Posts: 103
Location: Coolidge AZ

PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I aim at outdoor yard art sometimes... so with a mold one can produce a realtively economical piece in plaster 9for indoors). Then mid-priced cast in some kind of concrete...
...which if well done can last for hundreds to more than 10,000 years! Or so the peope over on the gardenart site say! Actaully they say concrete can last 50,000 years... that's longer than bronze?

and then the same piece can be cast in bronze if demand is there.
So your one piece of work can have a range of application!
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Thaine,
As for marble bases - are local based funerary stonemasons available for the same? In England they have small premises usually and are easily accessed.
wondered if they might be an alternative - just a suggestion, not sure how they might operate in America though.
thanks , jeanette
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Toby Mendez



Joined: 29 Mar 2010
Posts: 205
Location: Frederick, Maryland

PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kelly, I suppose I feel like I am from the dark ages on this one. Foundry has gone up so much in the past 5 years. When I got out of art school (back in the day) I made a goal for myself to cast a certain dollar amount of bronzes each year. This was 20 years ago and I guess all is relative, I had little money and bronzes were less expensive. These days the hourly wage is up and things cost more. So putting that aside. I budgeted a certain amount for castings each year, it was probably the equivalent of more than 10 percent of my income. To cast bronzes. To make that money go farther I made my own molds, I made my own waxes and I did my own finishing. The more you can do, the more you can save and the more you can cast. So if you took on just the mold making. This could save you money. Also when I did a small commissioned work I would sometimes order a little more rubber than was needed so that I would have rubber on hand. Sometimes when doing a commission that had resale potential I would insure that I had permission and I would make sure that the commission cost covered a casting for me. Sometimes in lieu of a sculptor's fee. By budgeting even a small amount to do a couple of small figures or castings a year, before you know it you start to build up inventory. Also when I was lucky enough to sell a work, I would reinvest some of that money into recasting that piece or casting another. Or if I did the piece in Terra Cotta, I would make a mold of the work and I would price the terra cotta according to what the bronze casting estimate would be for that work. Let me be clear. Say the casting price for a head is $1,500 dollars in bronze, I would sell the terra cotta for $1,500 and then cast a bronze, rather than taking an artist fee. This only works if you are not dealing with a gallery.

I realize that all of this is easy to say. But budgeting and making priorities is part of every successful business endeavor. Also keep in mind that in general a client wants to see it in bronze rather than imagining it in bronze, the client also usually wants it now, rather than months from now.
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Kelly Thiel



Joined: 07 May 2010
Posts: 8
Location: Charleston, SC

PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, you guys have been so helpful! I'm still thinking about the whole process and whether or not I have enough faith in the work, and in my potential buyer, to do it in bronze. Bronze is what she wants, although I like the idea of casting in other materials as an option. I am still suffering from the sticker-shock, but it is good to be learning lots of new stuff. It's all rather exciting to me! I am so thankful to have found all of you and I appreciate each and every comment!
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Mark Eskey



Joined: 30 Nov 2012
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i am relatively new to sculpting and in the learning stages of how best to mold and cast my finished work. One of the biggest concerns I have is casting costs. It would seem that while casting in bronze is most desirable, it is really cost-prohibitive. From what I have learned thus far, it would appear to make sense for me to make my own mold and create plaster casts, then bronze-coat and patina finish. This would allow me to produce more than one piece at a relatively low cost while still offering an aesthetically pleasing finished work. Would you agree?
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Stuart



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 834

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:07 pm    Post subject: 'bronze' Reply with quote

I concur with everything that everyone has said and Heidi's got it right there, don't go into bronze unless the client is paying.
Aqua Resin is a good alternative meanwhile, and can be made to look like bronze with a bit of invention and imagination, or you can make it look like terracotta or anything else....AND it's very strong!.
Trick is to wander around galleries, museums etc. and discover what 'look' you're after, then by layering your mixture of acrylics and faux metal effects available from good sculpture supplies, try and recreate it.
If anyone wants to check out my website, there is a 'bronze' of Simon Bolivar, which is painted aqua resin.
http://www.portraitsculpture-online.com/Portraits/Bolivar.htm
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like the idea of trying aqua resin with marble dust for faux marble. I'd like to just see how my sculptures look in pure white (other than plaster which I have) marble. Will it have some sparkle from the marble dust? Can I add some swirls and tones to look like real marble and then wax and polish it?

Just don't know about what price I should sell for in my gallery and if it will effect the price of my bronzes to work in faux marble medium,.... an inferior medium in the eyes of collectors... is my assumption.
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Lori



Joined: 11 Jan 2008
Posts: 264
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tamara - what about asking your gallery?
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Lori Kiplinger Pandy
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http://lorikiplingerpandy.blogspot.com/
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should talk more with her about it. She has told me in the past that I can work in whatever medium I choose to (ceramic etc). Here is a link to one artist on her website that offers the same sculpture in plaster, faux marble and bronze. http://www.cordair.com/piper/venus.php My question is, doesn't this hurt the sales for bronze? Collectors may not like that the same sculpture is being sold in, essentially, resin.

Also, another thing to consider is that aqua resin may be more harsh on a mold then wax and break down the mold. Would I need two molds, one for my bronze casts and one for the faux marble aqua resins?
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