Crafting a Bronze Cremation Urn
10-foot sheets of solid bronze are heavy & awkward. I drag one into the shop and wrestle it up onto the bench. Each design has a set of patterns which I nestle together at one end of the sheet - and trace. A few rough cuts and everything becomes more manageable. I settle down and carefully trim the various pieces to their final shape. A variety of anvils and odd pieces of metal are used to impress the bronze with lines, hatches, and small dents. This is an artistic, custom process - it gives the bronze surface complexity and a sense of memory. I linger with this part of the creative work until it shows a satisfying emotional depth.
The three dimensional curves require a boat builder's eye - all the curves of each sculpture must be "fair" and well-defined. It takes a while to get them just right so that the parts fit together snugly. Once I'm happy with their flow & fit, I tack the corners and edges in a few places with a large welder. I use a smaller specialized welder to trace delicately along each joint and fuse the parts into a seamless whole. Its tiny arc is as hot and bright as the sun.
An opening is formed on each funeral urn and a cover plate fitted carefully and bolted down tight. Grinding, sanding, and burnishing bring a satin sheen to the urn and prepare it for the patina. The ancient patina solutions are applied over and over until the bronze glows with depth and warmth. The result is an urn that seems both contemporary and ancient - it even haunts me a little with the mysteries of sorrow, beauty, love, and absence.
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