Where there’s a Will there’s a way (part 2)

Where there’s a Will there’s a way (part 2)

Today we would see the results of our smelted copper and the goddess would break free from her tomb.

See you …

Another damp, cold morning found us all at Will’s workshop for our second day of fun. Now that the furnace had properly cooled down overnight, our first job was to scavenge the smelted copper from inside. The following video nicely documents what we discovered …


As you can see, a reasonable chunk of copper was found at the bottom of the furnace. In addition, further smaller pieces were also retrieved from the ashes too.

Copper smelted from malachite

Wax on, wax off

During the course of the morning, the lost wax investments were each wrapped in an insulating blanket and placed on a charcoal fire to gently warm up. This served two purposes.

Firstly, it dried out any last vestiges of moisture from the investment material as this needed to be bone dry. If 1000°C molten bronze were to come into contact with pockets of water it would have explosive consequences.

Additionally, the heating process melted out the wax sculpture leaving only a cavity. I must admit, this did feel a little odd after all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the creation of the wax figurine.

Axe head

Whilst the lost wax investments were drying and their contents slowly melting out, we had time to spend on a new activity which was sand casting. This followed the exact same process I used to cast my knife at Butser. Will had a variety of patterns ranging from spear heads to knife blades and axe heads. He even had a leaf sword but I opted away from that on this occasion. In the end I went for the standard flanged axe head. These things seem to be the staple of many bronze casting workshops so I figured I should just cast one to tick that box.

The flask was prepared in the usual manner by packing oil sand into one half and pushing the pattern into the surface. The inside face was dusted with talc and then the other side was packed. Today, we were using Will’s gas fired furnace so the preparation of the molten bronze was significantly faster. When the bronze was ready for pouring, I got to pour my first cast.


As you can see, safety was paramount. Here I am wearing full face protection, full length heavy apron, and sturdy leather gauntlets. I am, however, a little embarrassed by the white trainers and in retrospect think I was a little bit crazy wearing those. Had I dropped molten bronze on my feet I may as well have not been wearing anything.

Fortunately, the pour went without incident and a perfect axe head was produced. The item was cleaned up and Will provided a variety of power tools to assist in speeding up this process.

The cast axe head after some cleaning up.

The goddess

The time had come to pour the goddess. More molten bronze was prepared and the mould positioned in the bucket of sand. Again, I made the pour without incident and she was set aside for a short while to cool down. There was certainly a little more anticipation and uncertainty surrounding this pour as it relied totally on the integrity of the investment. Considering the temperatures it was subjected to, I think it did pretty well.

Eventually, it was time to break the goddess out of her prison …

She was extremely hot when she was first broken out of her mould and needed a good dunking in water to cool her down. Once she was cool enough to handle, I was able to clean off the majority of the investment residue.

As you can see, the figurine had many irregularities around the outside. These were caused by the molten bronze making its way into the nooks and crevices of the investment material itself.

To speed up the cleaning process, various power tools were used, from a Dremel to an angle-grinder with a flap disc. I had to take great care to ensure I didn’t remove too much material with these gizmos which is easily done.


After her initial clean-up, I was quite happy with how the goddess turned out. She obviously needs finer finishing and the curves and crevices of her body make that quite challenging. However it was tremendous fun producing her and I learnt a great deal along the way.

In like flint …

After all the bronze work was complete we still had a little time on the Sunday so Will very kindly gave us an insight into the mind of a flint knapper. This was a fascinating diversion and I can honestly say it’s much harder than Will makes it look!


Will kindly gave us free reign of his workshop over the three days to use whatever we needed to get our work done. He was a great host, was extremely helpful, provided bottomless tea-making facilities, and was always on hand for advice whenever it was needed. In summary, the weekend was great fun and extremely educational.

My sincere thanks go to Will Lord for providing some of the photos and video used in this post and allowing me to reproduce them here. If you’re interested in any of the experiences that Will has to offer, you can find him at any of these locations:





One Reply to “Where there’s a Will there’s a way (part 2)”

  1. Wow, love seeing these videos of your day.
    It’s quite something for a hidnessnto magically come from that clump of bronze at the base of the pot. Amazing work. And live the goddess. Thanks for sharing.

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