BAMS: A Timeline of Progression: Bronze Pour & Its After-Effects with the Additional Resin Medal Touch-ups.

Following on from the wax burn out in the foundry, my molochite shells were heavier than they previously were and didn’t feel so fragile to touch. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the weight of the process once the wax was melted out, but it was still quite heavy.

The introduction into bronze pouring in the foundry was interesting, because it taught me how to set up for a bronze pour, and the three positions needed to proceed with a pour.

The positions were;

1) the main pourer – this person is responsible for controlling the crucible;
2) the deadman – this person is responsible for holding the other end of the jaws for the crucible, and offer extra weight support and nothing else – this was my role; and
3) the dossiere – this role is possibly the most important of all as this person is responsible for clearing debris and rubbish from the crucible, providing a nice clean bronze pour.

(Video courtesy of Roxanne).

I found the experience of partaking in the bronze pour to be an exhausting one – the protective gear we had to wear was thick, uncomfortable leather with gloves that were far too big for my hands and really cool space boots (I liked the space boots). I understand why we had to wear the protective clothing, but it didn’t really help prevent overheating or heat exhaustion, and I found the clothing was restrictive, as I couldn’t bend down very far which resulted with me bending with my back when lowering the crucible than with my knees.

bronze pour 5

Unfortunately the fast pour into my shell caused shock and ripped through the shell casing, which let air into my mould and this caused some warping throughout the rest of my bronze pour.

After the bronze pour, we had an induction into the grinders and machine operated saws to remove the excess bronze tree form, such as the runners and main body. I personally didn’t enjoy the method as I found the excess machinery’s noise caused headaches (mind you, there was about 4 of us doing it all at once so possibly not as bad when alone), but I also found the speed of the machine tools made me panic. I will use them again though, as it defeats using a hand axe-saw to try cut into the metal form as the hand axe-saws took about 45 minutes to cut through one runner.

My medals still need work – they need fixing up from the warping issue with welding and I also need to start considering pattination and further developing my design as I am currently unhappy with how it is perceived.

I casted another medal in resin and spoke to Martin about using a dremel to work into them and polish them up. This produced a more metallic finish, than which the resin originally appeared plastic and not what I was expecting it to be. I’m happier with these but I also used lino cutters to work into the medals more, to develop deeper cuts and ridges. I’ve decided I am going to work into these resin ones more for Craft in the Bay.


BAMS: Reflective Journal Entry.

During the BAMS brief in Subject, I have learned to develop a number of new processes to create a medal.

As I did not know the full process of making a bronze medal, it came as a surprise to understand the time and multiple aspects of the process it takes to complete a minimum set of medals. Obviously it is not the material that is costly but the days of process that creates the high cost of a bronze medal.
As I am just at the beginning stages of designing and learning about process and costs, it is better to concentrate my outcomes in other less costly process based materials. For example: Pewter and Resin.


Being a short process with a quick outcome was something I enjoyed and it did not involve waiting for kilns or burn outs. This process excited me and fuelled my creativity to continue working into the materiality after the initial outcome of the medal was produced. I found the tidying process of my pewter medals therapeutic because it soothed the tension and stress with the way the tools glided over the material. The time consumed from designing in pewter is after the fact when the medal has come out of the mould, and it is working into the actual metal itself. By sanding, filing and polishing. To further my design in Pewter, I am going to experiment with mark making into the medal itself.


This material was an unknown factor to me in actually being able to create a medal from. This is a material I have never experimented with, especially with adding metallic powder to create a possible bronze finish. This slight touch of alchemy has opened up other possibilities to experiment with metallic powders and materials. The quickest outcome from a process came from the resin cast. At the present time, I have only produced one medal from this process but the tools and outcome have yet to be manifest. Looking at the colouration on the medal at this present moment, it does appear possible that a bronze/metallic outcome is quite achievable.

As far as I am concerned, this is early days in taking on new processes and new ideas to develop in such a short period, I believe that if this part of subject was given more time, I personally would have enjoyed developing and researching more background knowledge for my design. This rushed, short programme has had a negative impact on what I thought initially I would thoroughly have enjoyed. Even so, this negativity in this part of term will not completely deter me from progressing when I can work at my own pace. Looking back in retrospect, I prefer to work with materials that react on a faster basis than that of the bronze process.

To develop my designs and possibly find a direction for the medals I produce, I was considering designing commemorative astronomical and space travel events and possibly create an outlet for a market on a webpage. i.e. Etsy perhaps.

BAMS: A Timeline of Progressing to the Final Hurdle.

wax tree burnout

Since my last timeline entry, my wax tree was satisfactory and at a point where I could participate in a burn out. This phase of the process was interesting because I had never participated in a burn out before. To do the burn out, there needed to be three people:

  1. Someone who has the role of scooping out the wax from the water tray
  2. Someone who has the role of scraping the wax from the floor to the snow-baller
  3. Someone who has the role of snow-baller – this role was the role I had – and you basically just had to scoop wax up off the floor, roll it into snowballs and rinse out as much water residue as possible.

foundry burn out

The video above demonstrates the burn out in action. The video footage is courtesy of my classmate Heather, who filmed the process and me in action. It was fun to be active and involved with a progression of a process in the foundry but I found the smoke, heat and fumes to be overpowering. We are now waiting on a confirmation for a Bronze pouring from Dallas, the Tech Dem in Foundry.

Now I am at a halt for the process of Bronze, I decided to focus on my secondary material medal. A portion of last week was spent working into my Pewter medals, that was last mentioned in my previous timeline entry where I said I wanted to work into the material and get a feel for it. That’s exactly what I did and I am pleased with the outcome I have achieved in Pewter.

The video above demonstrates the entirety of the edges of the medal after a solid half an hour or so of working into the material with a file.

I used a combination of the file and sand paper to remove excess crap that was part of my pewter cast but wasn’t what I wanted in my medal as I desired a smooth surfaced medal. To polish, I simply kept wiping them over with a wad of toilet paper. Above is the near-desire finish medal. Below is the before.

This is here to demonstrate that even if your cast doesn’t always come out right, you can apply hard work and tools to it and it can come out shiny and smooth.

After I finished working on my pewter medals, I spoke to Martin about the possibility of doing a resin cast of my medal. I was intrigued to see it in different material and was enjoying the exploration of materiality. Interestingly enough, Martin said that he could apply some metallic powder to the resin mix for the medal to take on an appearance of a copper/brass/bronze effect. I thought this could be an interesting outcome so decided to do it. I powdered the moulds with the metallic powder and Martin mixed up the mixture so I could do a pour.

It was quite possibly one of the quicker materials that I have casted with to set. It took around 5 minutes, 10 tops to set and I had produced another material outcome of my initial design. I enjoyed this medium as well.

The reveal was interesting as it was a sort of  chocolate brown and gave the illusion that it was made out of metal, not resin. This was an interesting aspect to the medal as it would make people look at it twice and question its materiality. Martin said that it would look more brassy/coppery/bronze-y if I worked into it and polished them up. That is my goal for this upcoming week. I intend to polish and tidy and work on the resin medals and finish off my pewter ones as they still have a bit of work to do on the front of the design. The only issue that these have is that they do not possess a back design, so I would be immediately disqualified from BAMS but I am considering putting these into Craft in the Bay exhibition instead.

BAMS: A Timeline of Progression: Wax Trees and Beyond.

Following on from where I left of at my last timeline entry, I found that casting wax into my silicon mould was proving difficult. A lot of the pours I did resulted in poor quality outcomes and that wasn’t ideal. I was determined to obtain higher quality wax medals from the silicon moulds and probably spent more time on this than I perhaps should have, but the end result of doing this proved worth the time-consuming desire to have a higher standard finish.

When I finally got the results I wanted to achieve with the wax cast medals, I moved onto the next stage: creating the wax runners and wax cups for the wax trees. Dallas had these plaster moulds to pour directly into to create both the runners and the wax cups. Unfortunately, I thought I did take photographs of the wax cup process but due to the fast paced nature in the foundry, I must have somehow missed it for health and safety reasons. The process was exactly the same though, two moulds shaped like cups and one heavy-duty mould for the runners. I poured wax into those and left them for 30-45 minutes to solidify.

wax runners and cup

Once the wax was set, I removed them from the plaster moulds and took them upstairs to my space. I decided to leave them overnight and start fresh in the morning. Upon my return, I got out my palette knives (I found that they were very useful not just for paint) and gently started to tidy them up ready to create the wax tree form. My cups didn’t need any additional tidying up as they came out really well.

wax tree 4

Once my runners were tidied up, I went down to the foundry and used the vice nearest the hot wax hobs. This was beneficial as I didn’t have to wander around the foundry carrying a hot knife to start forming the tree. I melted the bottom of one of the runners and then a middle spot in one of the cups to combine the form. It needed to be gradual and a lot wider, so I found pouring wax onto the metal surfaces and leaving it a minute or so to start solidifying made it easier for me to apply bulk to the form of the tree. This was a bit more time consuming than I thought it would be but it was worth it in the end to apply extra time to the formation of the tree as others have fallen apart during the coating stage.

Once the tree was bulked out, I had to screw in these hooks – these were vital as they’d later become handles for when I moved onto the coating stage of the process.


Applying the tree branches used the same method as building up the bulk of formation. I sized up equal amounts on one of the runners and cut them to those sizes. Each one had one end sliced at a slight angle so they’d be easier to attach to the tree. I melted and attached. This stage of the process went faster than the bulking of the tree.

Before I progressed onto attaching medals, I created my second wax tree and got them both up to the same stage. This was easier than trying to attach medals separately to each tree. Whilst applying the medals, I used a hot knife between the medal and the tree and quickly removed the knife. I then added a firm pressure and they were attached. To fill in any gaps, I’d use liquefied wax with one of my modelling tools or a paint brush to apply and fill in the gaps.

Once my trees were attached with medals and runners, I was able to move onto the next stage: the ceramic shell coating of the wax trees. For the first two coats, the Molochite mixture needed to be consistent of double cream consistency with the lighter powder applied after. For the last five coats, the consistency changes to single cream and finer, more grainier powder to dust over. I find this process soothing and I am currently on five coats, so I am hoping to have the shell casting complete by next week.

I have not enjoyed this process as much as I was hoping, because I feel the rushed nature of this deadline has denied me the opportunity to fully explore the materiality that I have been playing with – particularly the wax – I didn’t have time to develop a better understanding of the materiality, what tools work well and what made it worse – and I found the worst part was being in the foundry with about 10 of us trying to use hot wax when according to the safety guidelines, there’s only meant to be 4 around the hot wax at a time. This was obviously not upheld and I didn’t feel safe using the facilities because health and safety really went down the gutter. There was a lot of people waving hot knives around, huddled up near the hot wax when they weren’t even using it – just chatting!! – and leaving a cannister of butane gas right next to a gas hob… as well as leaving hot wax on hobs that were on to the point where they could have exploded. I really feel like if this brief continues into second year next academic year, they really need to develop better health and safety protocols whilst working in there. It won’t help me this year but it will help the next generation of second years.

In between applying coats of Molochite, I went to Martin’s workshop and did pewter casting. My intention next week is to work into these by polishing them and getting a feel for the material.



BAMS: A Timeline of Progression.


My interests for a subject matter piqued around a variety of different topics and to get an idea of where my interests primarily lied, I created one (of many) mind maps to get them down. The concept of time and space came from my interest of Voyagers and the concept of being able to use the constellations of the sky to navigate the seas. The idea of combining navigation with time was what piqued my interest the most. Time, structure and navigation are personal to me and that is how I managed to decide on a concept idea for BAMS.

During the summer holidays, I ventured into Cardiff city centre for a day to explore the museum. There was only so much information I could absorb through the internet and wanted to see if there was anything I could find in real life to contextualise my concept.

I found a collection of monetary coins that were going rustic and I thought the rustic nature of the objects made them appear worn, used and dated. The fossil, unfortunately I can’t remember what it is taken from as my phone at the time of this photo with the data stored on it, had a circuit board failure and I lost the notes I made on this. But I loved the detail of this object and how tactile it looked. If it wasn’t in a glass cabinet on display, I definitely would have felt the texture of the object.

From this starting point, I went into the library and took out books on Astronomy, Time, Constellations of the night sky, and Cosmology. From this in-depth information I was fed from the books I read, I started to work into my sketchbook, being very interested in the Constellations. The Great Bear (Ursa Major) was a big starting point for my concept design in BAMS.

drawing bams

This series of investigation into those topics sent me in a new direction during the remainder of the summer holidays. I still had an interest in Voyagers and this is when I discovered the ancient artefact of a Nocturnal Horologium. I immediately became obsessed with its shape and function and from there, I was able to create a visually aesthetically pleasing design.

Upon return into term time, I immediately got to work. I knew I wanted to choose BAMS and I stuck with my decision. I began to do further research, to broaden my horizons and started to create maquettes out of cardboard to get a grasp on sizing that fitted into the palm of my hand. By doing this, it enabled me to further develop my design, concept and ideas. From the cardboard maquettes, I started to take it into clay. I chose clay because it is malleable and is easy to carve into, to mould and model into.

They were then sent down to Ceramics to be fired in the kiln. That was a waiting game and I did lose a good few days of mould-making whilst I waited for my medals to ‘cook’. Once they were out of the kiln, I took them straight into a one-part silicon mould.

fired medals

Once my silicon moulds were set, I took them into the next phase of the process: wax casting. I’m now able to start working on my wax trees tomorrow afternoon with Dallas to be ready for the coating of Melochite stage.



Today we had a BAMS PDP at 11am with Ingrid Murphy in our level five meeting area. This PDP was beneficial but did take an hour out of our making time for BAMS. The idea was to gather around the table with our maquettes, prototypes, design boards and sketchbooks and if anyone was a lot further on, then their moulds and possibly their wax trees. Everyone had interesting concepts and extremely complex, ambitious designs. It was good to gain an inside perspective on my fellow cohorts designs and also to gain feedback on my own.

Ingrid appeared to be pleased with my concept and definitely was pleased with my development of sketches (I never use to sketch or use a sketchbook!) that demonstrated a thorough, thought-through idea process before progressing onto actual making. For me, it was beneficial to gain a critical sort of feedback and I always feel I develop well under Jon or Ingrid’s critical feedbacks as opposed to other types of feedback. If anything however, I really do feel that this PDP should have taken place the first week into the BAMS brief, instead of about 2 or 3 weeks in, when everyone has already progressed into plaster, clay, moulds, wax etc.

Welcome to BAMS – Start of New Term.

Part of Level Five is following a Live Brief and the first 7 weeks of term are focused on this.
We have successfully run the British Art Medal Student Brief for 4 years with increasing student success. This year is their 25th anniversary and the exhibition at the end of the competition will be even more special. It is a great chance to work in bronze, to learn a new skill, make a handheld artefact on a theme of your choice and submit it for a live competition.
You will have a choice of Live Brief when you come back – but even if you are not thinking of making a medal through choosing the BAMS brief – the task for everyone over the summer is to research and prepare for this brief.
So please bring considered and rich designs that answer the parameters outlined on the You Tube PPT that can be moved into modelling and a wax within the first week of term!
o It’s a fast but focused process and requires good time management.
o It is a great chance to make a small artefact in a new medium.
o It is stressful at times – but has so many benefits!
Module Title
Subject: Create
Module Number
ADZ 5111
Assignment title
British Art Medal Society Student Project Live Brief
Project Leader
Philippa Lawrence
Assignment Due Date
Formative: 7th November 2017
Oral presentation, artefact, design sheets and blog.
Formative: A 5 minute oral presentation. Weekly blog. A professional standard idea or design sheet or series of drawings, a refined piece or resolved maquette, a min. 500 word summative reflective journal (blog) entry to cover skills, context and ideas as outlined in the Subject learning outcomes in this document. Sketchbooks etc.
Look at the Art Medals in the gallery pages, on the link below and explore in depth gallery pages for inspiration reading about the makers AND watch the BAMS PPT on You Tube.

This outlines the brief that is set and the directives include:
• not too thick
• fits in the palm of your hand
• not a squashed sculpture
• works in relation to both sides and the edge!!! etc
Themes: are varied and wide – the PPT outlines them.
So, enjoy – think of a design, sketch and be ready to take a design into wax and a mould ASAP on your return to Maker in September.
Any questions – just email.
The work detailed needs to be completed and submitted by the 7th of November.
Completed BAMS submission form with sketch and text– (it is on Moodle).
o its meaning,
o what it suggests,
o how it came about,
o why this theme,
o whatever you want to say about it
PLEASE ALSO STATE: How is the medal related to your other work/ or not?
COMMENT on making the medal, and the process, such as its size, constraints, etc.
(What you write will be used as the basis for catalogue entries).
Week 1: fabricating, moulding or carving your idea in clay, wax, laser cut wood or plaster.
Week 2: have made a mould of your ‘object.’ And got your waxes made
This week you have an introduction to the process of shell casting and making a tree on Wednesday 4th October 10.00. All to attend.
Week 3: Waxes made into a tree & the shell casting process – dipping & drying
Week 4 & 6: Burn out the shells …and pour
Week 6: Cleaning up/finishing
Week 7: Formative/patination/hand in
Remember the shell casting process needs you to work on it twice a day over the course of a week. Aim to stick to the schedule – as not everything will necessarily go smoothly if it slips at all – it can only be by a week to make sure you have time to go through the process.
Learning Outcomes:
o Demonstrate an ability to extend material understanding and application of process
in the origination and execution of work
o An ability to identify professional contexts, including contemporary environments and
locations such as manufacturing, the craft studio, and galleries.
o Have higher levels of autonomy in their studies through self-directed and
collaborative practice and evaluation
o Have thorough knowledge of the main methods of enquiry relevant to practice, and
to critically evaluate where their work is situated in relation to contemporary art,
design & making.
o A sound ability to scope and locate their own practice within contemporary and
professional environments.
o A confidence in taking risks, and developing challenging, yet appropriate ideas.