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Gateway was the community newsletter of Pratt Institute published monthly by the Office of Communications, in the Division of Institutional Advancement through spring 2014. For current Pratt-related news, visit the News page on Pratt’s website.


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Monday
Dec062010

STUDENTS TAKE THE HEAT DURING BRONZE POUR

Photo LEFT: (L-R) Student Nicole Romanello (M.F.A. Sculpture ’11), under Professor Isolani’s watchful eye, prepares the mold for the pour with the aid of student Andrew Fernandez (B.F.A. Painting ’11). Photo RIGHT: (L-R) Students Andrew Fernandez (B.F.A. Painting ’11) and Nicole Romanello (M.F.A. Sculpture ’11) pour molten bronze into molds quickly and precisely in Pratt’s foundry on the Brooklyn campus. The foundry is a rarity in the New York City area.Few people are aware that Pratt boasts the only functioning professional foundry in the  New York metropolitan area. The foundry was designed 40 years ago by Licio Isolani, now a professor in the Fine Arts department, who had gained his expertise at the Instituto Statale D’Arte in Florence.

Every year, Professor Isolani teaches a fall and spring Foundry I and II course in the metal shop, located on the third floor of the Chemistry Building on the Brooklyn campus. There students of fine arts, industrial design, architecture, or history of art learn the ancient “lost-wax” casting process that enables them to realize works in bronze.

On November 16, students wearing protective hard-hats and heavy gloves endured a grueling day of pouring liquid bronze heated to a temperature of 2,250° Fahrenheit into their waiting molds.

“You’re working with a crucible of 250 pounds of molten metal,” said Isolani, “so you have to take every precaution to prevent any possible injury. Your clothes could catch fire, for example; or if the crucible broke, there could be an explosion of smoke and metal flying in the air. It’s very dangerous, but we’ve never had an accident.”

As they poured, the molten bronze melted and replaced the wax form within each student’s mold. When the bronze had cooled and solidified into shape, the plaster-based mold was cracked open to reveal the final class project.

“Students pour their own work because it’s part of the experience,” Isolani continued, “and it’s not one that many people in New York can claim. Even after just a semester, students can get jobs in foundries thanks to their familiarity with this very specific process.”

Among the observers at the November 16 bronze pour was Isolani’s former Pratt student, Honduran-born sculptor Arnaldo Ugarte, who currently works as a sculpture conservation technician for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund at Kykuit, the former Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills, New York, now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“The pour is so exciting,” said Ugarte, who came especially for the event. “It’s essentially the ‘birth’ of the bronze sculpture, and you have to be very focused to do it. I consider it the epitome of being a sculptor, because it produces work that will endure for many, many years.”

Photos: Arnaldo Ugarte

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Reader Comments (3)

What a thrill to see this article! This day was on of the highlights of my time at Pratt. I'm so glad to see that Lichio is still performing this vital service to the sculpture community. Thanks for capturing this Ugarte!

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBruce MacDonald BFA '80
As they poured, the molten bronze melted and replaced the wax form within each student’s mold. When the bronze had cooled and solidified into shape, the plaster-based mold was cracked open to reveal the final class project.
May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIraqi Dinar
Thanks for sharing such an information.

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