Kurofofrom – lost wax casting
I stopped by a small village in Ghana, where they cast silver and brass in lost-wax casting. I asked the artisans to show me the process, which I documented in the photo gallery below:
You can read more about my experiences in Ghana in the Ghana section of my travel blog.
The village itself is Kurofofrom, a small town near Kumasi. The traveling tiger couldn't resist getting a photo of himself with the sign...
They cast brass using the lost-wax method. First they create a model in beeswax...
...here are some more complex models. These are some pretty cool-looking beeswax llions.
Next they mix up a slurry of powdered charcoal, water, and clay, and dip the beeswax into it. The slurry adheres to the beeswax, giving a perfect interior mold.
A man applying slurry to hundreds of beeswax beads.
beads. Next the individual beeswax models are conglomerated into a bigger piece. Strings coated in beeswax are attached to each of the beeswax models, to provide a channel for the brass to flow through later.
Next the mold is coated in a mix of palm fiber and clay. To the right are a pair of finished molds.
A small area of beeswax is left uncoated at the top of the mold. This is where the brass will be poured into the mold.
The mold is then put into an oven upside-down, and heated so that the beeswax runs out the bottom. (Hence the name "lost wax method".)
A crucible (visible in the bottom half of the mold depicted above) is made and filled with powdered brass. It is fused to the mold with more palm fiber and clay...
...and is put into an oven filled with burning charcoal, stoked by an electric blower (above). When blue flames appear above the charcoal, the mold is ready.
The crucible-mold combination is carefully removed with tongs and inverted, allowing the now-molten brass to run down into the cavity.
When cool, the brass has filled all the holes in the mold. They break it apart, revealing a finished brass piece in the exact shape of the beeswax model.
Here the artisan is breaking apart the mold (which is quite soft and brittle) to show the finished brass.
As the mold separates, dozens of little molded brass pieces appear.
A finished set of beads. Finished pieces are polished using a file, a buffer, and lemon juice to bring out the shine of the brass. (Lemon juice contains ascorbic acid, which is an antioxidant and helps remove the oxidization from the surface of the brass.)
The traveling tiger meets a LION...!