Category Archives: Sources for Materials

A Caproni & Brother cast

“The Maiden of Lille” is a plaster cast of a Renaissance original by the pre-eminent producers of plaster casts in America, Caproni & Brother (now owned by the Giust Gallery, Woburn, Mass.)

Caproni Collection, Maiden of Lille

Caproni casts are signed at the back or side, as this one is, and casts from original work by neoclassical sculptors also bear the sculptor’s signature. Once ubiquitous in schools and on parlor pianos, they sometimes turn up in antique shops. The original, 19th-century showroom was in downtown Boston, and founder Pietro Caproni traveled the world taking molds from ancient and contemporary sculpture.

Green Foundry outdoor show

Green FoundryI dropped off a wax at the Green Foundry in Eliot, Maine last week. There is a lovely sculpture show on the grounds, which is adjacent to Sanctuary Arts. I was reminded of  foundry days at Andrew DeVries‘s River Studio, where my early work was cast.

Extinction’s Greatest Hits: lecture and artwork at Stanford

My writer friend, Mary Ellen Hannibal, recently posted:  “Species of plants and animals are disappearing 100 times faster than they should. Later this month The New York Times will start running a six-part series I’ve written, tracking how conservation biology developed to engage the problems of extinction. I’ll be giving a couple of talks on the subject too, focusing on the discovery process — how landmark concepts, extinction’s ‘greatest hits,’

Ellen LItwiller, "The Last of Their Kind" were figured out by scientists and continue to be refined and applied today.  Many of these stories have a distinctly Western focus — Paul Ehrich and Peter Raven hatched the idea for quantifying co-evolution (relationships that climate change is unhinging) based on butterflies and plants at Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Reserve. Totally appropriate for kids 12 and up.

Evening of Extinction
Friday, May 9
From 6:30-8:30 with a talk at 7:15
1850 Fourth Street, San Rafael
with “The Last of Their Kind,” paintings by Ellen Litwiller [beautiful!]

Wednesday, May 28
Lunch and slide presentation
Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West
RSVP here:


The Greek term karyatides literally means “maidens of Karyai,” an ancient town of Peloponnese (southern Greece).  Karyai had a famous temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis in her aspect of Artemis Karyatis: “As Karyatis she rejoiced in the dances of the nut-tree village of Karyai, those Karyatides, who in their ecstatic round-dance carried on their heads baskets of live reeds, as if they were dancing plants” (Kerenyi 1980 p 149).

The Erichtheion, a temple which stands next to the Parthenon, is home to the archetypal caryatids. They have launched a thousand imitators, from Augustus Saint-Gaudens to Victorian-era furniture makers. Lord Elgin carried one back home to England, after accidentally smashing another. Originally six in number, five of these enormous stone women remain at the Erechtheion, while one is hostage to the British Museum (the caryatid Elgin smashed was repaired with cement and rebar).

Above: a caryatid from the Erechtheion, standing in contrapposto,  displayed at the British Museum. Photographer: Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2007.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the photo and nut-tree village quote (walnuts, in case you were wondering).

Cast metal with your microwave!

My friend Nick sends these instructions for casting low-temperature metals in a home microwave:
Here’s a more technical set of instructions:
Also, the home page of that site (more background):
[Click on “the Reid Technique”]

Has anyone done this at home? I’m going to try casting tin solder as soon as I can get a microwave-size refractory rig set up.

Long Live Butchers Wax!

Contrary to rumor, the Butcher’s Wax Company is still alive and doing business. Several of my local hardware stores told me recently that the company had gone out of business and tried to sell me other, inferior waxes! Where these rumors came from I don’t know, but if you find yourself in the same situation you can order direct from the company’s website. I recommend Renaissance Wax for metals and plaster, but the basic clear bowling alley wax is great for outdoor use. I have used it for decades for maintaining outdoor bronze sculptures.


Jocelyn Almy-Testa organizes some fascinating shows and events in this cool alternative space. If you’re in need of a studio, rent the gallery’s Resource Room, which has a library of reference, art, and how-to books, a sewing machine, slide projector, light boxes, hand tools, and much more. The Little Gallery Under The Stairs (TLGUTS), 25 Exchange Street, Lynn, Mass.,


Forton is a non-toxic, ultra strong, very hard, weatherproof and odorless material casting system (basically hyrdrocal supplemented with dry melamine, a liquid polymer, and fiberglas). Casting methods are essentially the same as  urethane or polyester resin. FMG can be slush cast (hollow), hand laid-up, sprayed through the proper equipment or poured for solid casts. Repairs are easier to make when using FMG versus a casting made of polyester resin or epoxy, and Forton can be shaped with plaster tools.

The Pink House Studio sells Forton casting kits and supplies. The second link is a review and basic how-to of the process by a sculptor who does life casting.