Having made our waxes we wended our way to the foundry. It was a bit of a struggle as despite my protests, it was clear that any casting was going to be in several pieces. This involves a substantial amount of post pouring effort. However, we were not even getting re-assurance on the feasibility of the shapes. Casting is a complex process, and surgical grade stainless is a very unsociable compound to work with. I proposed modifying the waxes to try to overcome some of the anticipated metal shrinkage difficulties. It was a 2 part plan. I hollow out as much material from knuckles and joints,(metacarpal to proximal) keeping within the foundry rule of thumb for hole depth<diameter, and the palm piece was to get its own blanket of kerlane.

Our foundry liaison, Liam, was sympathetic to our endeavours, and suggested a trial. After more to-ing and fro-ing, we delivered a green pile of contorted wax to see if it could be done.

A tense week later we headed back to Polycast and watched as Liam clouted the shell off with a large hammer. The dark charred metal, still radiating heat, revealed a flawless pour. On the same runner system were some items destined for Rolls-Royce.


  sculpted hand bones on the treesculptured bonescast hand bones placed on gun      
  The first gesture we married to my old Mg34, the German equivalent to our Bren gun of the second world war. This was something I found in my wanderings in Normandy. It had been lost in a trench for about 50years...      


close up of sculpted skeleton


  Hmmm.. my favourite. All those lumps on the fingers need grinding off, smoothing out then a polish. I could write a whole chapter on how this is done, I'll just leave you with a summary. It's a nasty job, especially with a 22% chrome content.. it is very very hard.      

  It's starting to look good... now to make a right mess of it and start welding the pieces together. This too was a horrendously difficult task. The one advantage of working with metal is that if you really make a mess, you can build up the material with fresh weld and grind it back. It takes a lot of time though. Another surprise snag that come to light was in the positioning of the fingers. You can simply not tell what is/looks right unless every finger is in place, with the wrist on the radius-ulna. 7 pieces is not possible to hold, and both wax and stainless will not hold with blue-tack. So back to the welding... suddenly all those hours crafting exact finger curl waxes and positions went out the window as each hand went through the integration. It was like getting a two year old to paint your signature on a painting.      

Still, hours pass by. Welding, grinding out with a dremmel (actually a Kavo dental technicians main hand tool) re-fusing, polishing, adjusting and more polishing.

A word of gratitude here. Our foundry man bent over backwards to help and encourage this project. A young friend, Alex, let me use his spare Kavo (these alone cost £1500) and Martyn of CR Fabrications (Poole) let me use his premises and equipment for the filthy task of grinding and polishing and welding.

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