In our previous post, we outlined how the waxes for reproduction Tiffany Studios lamp bases are made. Once the waxes have been created and cleaned, they are taken to our local bronze foundry.
the foundry, the waxes are "gated". Wax rods are attached to the pieces to create a roadway for the bronze to
enter the mold while the air in the mold has an escape route. Once the
wax gateways have been added, the process of creating the mold begins
by dipping the wax into a thin silica slurry that completely coats the surface.
After the first layer of slurry has dried, the dipping process will be repeated about 13 times until the mold
reaches the desired thickness. Successive dippings are done in a more viscous silica slurry and the mold is strengthened by the addition of a crystalline silica which gives the finished mold the appearance of stucco. Once completely dry, the piece is set into
a kiln and the wax is melted out, hardening the shell in the process.
hot, the molds are stood up in a large sand box and the molten bronze
is gently poured into each hot mold. The bronze is heated in a furnace
to 2200 degrees and a crucible of molten bronze is moved over the top of each mold and tipped to pour the bronze. In
the photo, Irwin Terry is carefully pouring the bronze into one of the
molds. Irwin is on the left wearing the green hard hat, and is mostly blocked from
view by the man in charge of the pour. This photo was taken at the
Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2001 when Irwin took several
classes in bronze casting so we would be able to have a first hand understanding of the
process and be able to interact knowledgeably with our local foundry.
the bronze has cooled to room temperature, the investment mold is
broken away and the raw bronze casting is revealed. The gating is still visible on this Mermaid base, and not all of the investment mold material has been removed. After the gates are removed, the process of chasing (hand
cleaning) and finishing the raw bronze parts will begin.
The 25" Roman shade has an unusual flaring dome shape which is generally referred to as "elephant ear". In addition to being an impressive table lamp, floor lamp, or chandelier fixture, this generously proportioned shade works exceptionally well as an inverted chandelier. This richly colored shade features fiery amber and red tones and is shown on the Tree Trunk base. This lamp was created in 2005 for a local client.
At Century Studios, we make many of the reproduction bronze lamp bases we offer. Since we opened in June 1986, we have worked with a number of Tiffany reproduction lamp base makers and in February 2000, we acquired all the molds from one of the foundries we had been using. Around 2005 we acquired molds from a second lamp base foundry. We have also been making molds from original Tiffany metalwork ourselves as we have had access to pieces.
The process of creating a lamp base takes many steps and multiple molds/patterns. To reproduce the Square Turtleback base shown above, we employ the talents of our bronze foundry, a metal spinner for the spun copper collar, and a glass maker to press the turtleback tiles needed to complete the base.
The process of creating the bronze castings for the Square Turtleback base begins with a quarter section rubber mold that was made from an original Tiffany lamp base. We cast four sections in foundry wax, a dark brown wax that is firm, yet pliable. The mold is filled, and when cool each wax is checked and cleaned by hand to elimate any imperfections such as air bubbles that might appear on the surface of the wax part.
For this base a second mold is used to create the light cluster stem in wax. Because the stem must be hollow, the wax is poured into the mold, swirled around and poured back out several times, building up thin layers of wax until the desired wall thickness for the part has been achieved. The hot wax must be at just the right temperature so it coats but does not melt the previous layer. Once all the waxes are cast, the parts are then taken to a local bronze foundry.
The 16" Pomegranate shade is one variation of the many shade designs with a decorative band bookmarked between upper and lower rows of geometric tiles. The color of the geometric portions shift from a light green/amber mix downwards to a green/white glass. The orange/amber pomegranates in the band play off the colors of the background glass. This shade was commissioned in 2006 and is shown on the versatile Small Stick base.
We offer a wide range of Tiffany reproduction Lily style table lamps, chandeliers, wall sconces and floor lamps. We recently completed this matching pair of 18 Light Lily Table Lamps for a West Coast client.
Century Studios is a stained glass studio in St. Paul, Minnesota, specializing in Tiffany lamp reproductions.
All text and images are copyright 2008-2009 Century Studios and may not be reproduced without permission.