Saturday, September 12, 2009

Eagle Bronze Foundry

While we were staying at Buckboard Crossing Campground we met two full timers, Nancy and David, who highly recommended a visit to the Eagle Bronze Foundry in Lander Wyoming. So it was on our to do list of things while we stayed at Lander waiting for my doctors appointment. They had both said that the tour was amazing and they were right!
Now the Eagle Bronze Foundry isn't the largest bronze foundry in the world, or the one that does the most castings, but it is the one that has done the largest bronze horse and that does the most memorial bronzes. You have probably seen one if you have ever been at a Cabelas, in Dallas, at the EL Paso airport, or any number of places.
It was a complete surprise to us that in little Lander Wyoming such a place existed so when our tour guide, Leslie, proudly showed us the large photos of past projects and we were impressed. We were further amazed as she took us around the foundry and we met the workers who were actually artists, performing their skill in every step of the casting. It was also evident that each of the workers were proud of their work as a skilled artisan, they all literally beamed!
The foundry uses the lost wax method for casting its memorials and its a lengthy process. First, the original clay sculpture is actually destroyed as it is cut into pieces! Each piece is then covered with latex and a wax casting is made. From this wax casting piece a second mold is constructed using sand and ceramic material, which then dries and is used to make the bronze casting.
The casting pieces are then welded together to form the bronze sculpture, which contains an inner iron support, and then sanded smooth before undergoing sand blasting. The next step is the application of a patina or coating which is usually specified by the artist. Finally, the project is approved by the artist before it is fitted to a base and then shipped,(the giant bronzes are actually cut apart for shipping and then rewelded at their final site). Whew, I hope I got most of it right!
To give you an example of the size I took an image of the two bronze horses being cast for a sculpture in Sicily, Italy. Leslie told us such a project can be a multimillion dollar project. She also said that most artists would presell their sculptures as it takes about four sales before the artist breaks even. We had no idea.
She showed us a sculpture that was of forgiveness. It's a religious sculpture concerning the abortion issue and one that touched my soul.
As we left, Leslie told us that the bronze in front of the factory was for sale, at a special price of 150,000. Unfortunately we didn't have room in our fifth wheel so we had to leave the sculpture where it was. We did go the the Eagle Bronze showroom in downtown Lander, where we marveled at the artwork on display.
David and Nancy were right, if you ever go to Lander, Wyoming go take the tour of the Eagle Bronze Foundry, you will not be disappointed! Clear skies.

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