Foundry Tour II: Behind the Scenes of Memorare, Sand Creek 1864

More scenes from the foundry casting of Memorare, Sand Creek 1864

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, I promised one of our clients updates of how his Memorare, Sand Creek 1864 was progressing at the foundry. This has been one of my most popular articles, so without further ado, here are more details of the casting process for you to see:

Lost Wax Casting Method

Although I shared these steps in Foundry Tour I, they are worth repeating so that you can follow which part of the process is depicted in the photos of Memorare, Sand Creek 1864 that follow.

Memorare, like all of my work, is made with the lost wax casting method. This is an ancient practice that involves the following steps:

  1. Mold: The foundry makes a mold that has a pliable latex interior and a solid plaster exterior. This is made by encasing my clay sculpture in the mold materials.
  2. Wax pour: Hot wax is poured into the finished mold in thin coats until the desired thickness is achieved.
  3. Wax removal: The mold is removed from the outside of the hardened wax.
  4. Chasing: A heated metal tool is used, by hand, to smooth out any seams or imperfections in the wax.
  5. Spruing: The chased wax is affixed with “sprues,” which are branch-like paths on which the molten bronze will flow.
  6. Slurry: The sprued wax is dipped in a silica/sand slurry that will harden into a shell-like mold, typically called a ceramic shell, although ceramics are not actually used.
  7. Burnout: The ceramic shell with the wax inside is placed into a kilt to both harden the shell and melt out the wax. The foundry then has a perfect mold in which to pour the molten bronze.
  8. Testing: The cooled ceramic shell is tested with water to check the venting and feeder tubes created by the sprues. Any defects in the mold are repaired.
  9. Pouring: After the shell is finished, molten bronze is carefully poured into the shell. The shell is heated first so that the bronze does not cause it to shatter.
  10. Release: Once the bronze has cooled, the shell is sand-blasted away and the now-bronze sprues are cut off.
  11. Welding: Parts of the bronze that had been cast separately are welded together.
  12. Metal chasing: The bronze is carefully worked by hand to remove any air bubbles, rough edges, or other defects.
  13. Patina: The finishing touch occurs when the patina artist, called a patineur, applies the finish of choice to the bronze.

Memorare‘s progress

Memorare, is now almost completely done! The only step left is to add the patina.

Here are the steps the sculpture has undergone to this point:

Release I

bergsgaard-knockoutIn this step, also called “knock-out,” the ceramic shell is broken away in large chunks from the bronze underneath.

Release II

bergsgaard-partialcastHere is part of the cast bronze (the arm of the male figure in Memorare) after casting and knock-out. The remaining ceramic shell, visible here as the white areas, will be removed by gentle sandblasting.

Cast pieces awaiting sprue removal

bergsgaard-partcastiiMore pieces of Memorare, Sand Creek 1864 still showing ceramic shell and sprues. Notice the chunks of broken ceramic shell on the floor.

Cast parts for assembly

bergsgaard-partsThis shelf is loaded with separate segments that will be hand-welded together.


bergsgaard-weld1 bergsgaard-weld2 bergsgaard-weld3 Assembly of the parts is done by hand by a skilled welder.

Partial assembly

bergsgaard-assemblyGetting there…

Post welding and chasing

bergsgaard-weld-chaseThis photo shows Memorare, Sand Creek 1864 completely assembled and “chased” (welds and other imperfections ground down and matched to the artist’s original texture).

Ready for patina

bergsgaard-patina-readyHere it is! Memorare has traveled a long road. The next and final step of the journey will be application of the finish by the skilled patineur artisan.

Stay tuned for our final installment, when we reveal the completed bronze.


Are you interested in adding Memorare, Sand Creek 1864 to your collection? I am offering a limited number to private collectors. Please contact me for details.

“Defiance” has a new home: Meet the Lambs

Congratulations to Chuck and Karen Lamb, the newest owners of Defiance.

(left to right)Karen Lamb, Craig Bergsgaard, and Chuck Lamb

(left to right)Karen Lamb, Craig Bergsgaard, and Chuck Lamb

Last year, Chuck and Karen saw Defiance while it was still in clay, and knew the piece belonged in their collection. “This piece was so strong emotionally,” says Karen. “We were just drawn to it.”

The Lambs have a Western art collection with both cowboy and Native American themes. Like many art collectors, Chuck and Karen add to their collection when a piece feels right, regardless of subject matter.

“There was something about Defiance, with the action and balance of the warrior that we couldn’t resist,” Karen says.

Although the Lambs appreciate the intensity of Defiance, the couple enjoys fun too, and demonstrated this by also reserving a clay of the sassy Soup’s On pin-up girl for their collection, too. “We thought it would be nice to have something light-hearted to balance the strength of Defiance,” Karen says.

My thanks to the Lamb family for adding more of my work to your fine collection. I am honored to have my western sculpture in your home.

Cattlemen’s Western Art Show and Sale

Please join me for the Cattlemen’s Western Art Show and Sale

Located in beautiful Paso Robles, CA wine country

Cattlemen's Western Art ShowI am pleased to announce my participation in the nationally renowned 20th annual Cattlemen’s Western Art Show. This is my first year at the show, located in the historic central California town of Paso Robles, just north of San Luis Obispo, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

If you feel like taking a fun weekend road trip to the show, you will enjoy:

  • Free admission for Saturday and Sunday exhibits.
  • Original artwork by 60 professional western artists.
  • All the artists will be available to meet and talk to the public during all hours of the show.
  • Show Schedule:

    Friday, March 26th – PG&E Reception
    Preview and Sale from 5 to 9 pm
    Artist’s Wine and Hors d’oeuvre Reception ($20 per person)

    Saturday, March 27th
    FREE admission from 10 am to 6 pm
    Cattlemen’s BBQ from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm ($10.00 per plate)

    Sunday, March 28th
    FREE admission from 10 am to 3:30 pm
    Cattlemen’s BBQ from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm ($10.00 per plate)

    No host bar on Saturday and Sunday with the proceeds benefiting the Cattlemen’s Association youth agricultural projects.

    Location and accommodations:

    The Paso Robles Event Center (formerly known as the California Mid-State Fairground), is close to Highways 101 and 46 West. Paso Robles has many fine Restaurants, Hotels, Motels, as well as Bed & Breakfast facilities with excellent accommodations. In the heart of the wine country, historic Paso Robles offers many interesting country and wine tours for the show visitors to enjoy while in the area, plus easy access to the coastline and the famous Hearst Castle.

    Meet Larry Parr: The Man Who Made Possible “Memorare, Sand Creek 1864”

    How do you thank someone who helped you realize a dream?

    When I began working on Memorare, Sand Creek 1864, I never suspected that this sculpture, made for personal artistic reasons, would snowball into a work achieving national acclaim. Yet that is exactly what happened.

    Larry Parr’s Gift

    larry-parrA large part of the success of Memorare is due to one man: Englewood, Colorado art collector Larry Parr.

    Larry saw Memorare, Sand Creek 1864 while the work was still in clay. He offered to pay to have the first piece in the edition cast so that it could be donated to a museum that would appreciate the historical significance of the event and the artistic effort that went into depicting it.

    You can imagine my joy in learning that the prestigious Booth Museum of Western Art in Cartersville, Georgia wanted to add the piece to their permanent collection.

    Since the museum unveiling this January, I have received much feedback on why people respond to Memorare: historical interest, ancestry, or simply the human story behind it.

    I believe that without the kindness of Larry Parr, the story would have taken much longer to tell.

    About Larry

    I met Englewood, Colorado collector Larry Parr in a non-art related context about 10 years ago when I inquired about storing my travel trailer at his RV storage facility. Larry asked what I did for a living and told him that I was a sculptor. Larry told me that he collected art and asked to see my work.

    From there, a friendship has grown as has Larry’s art collection. Larry is an avid collector of all media: bronzes, stone sculpture, oils, silk textile art, you name it. The one key to his collection is that he has to know the artist and be moved by the piece.

    “don’t buy art just to build a collection, says Larry. You have to love the work and have a personal relationship with the person who made it.”

    Why Memorare?

    When Larry paid to have the Booth Museum piece cast, he also purchased one for himself. What was it about this piece that he found so inspiring?

    “I love Native American history, Larry says, and because this piece was about part of Colorado history, it was all the more significant to me. Also, I wanted to help share a sculpture that was important to Craig artistically.”

    My Thanks

    Larry is a private man who wouldn’t even let me put a link to his business in this article. “I didn’t buy the sculpture for personal promotion,” he says. “In fact, I wasn’t sure he was going to even let me thank him publicly for the generous support he has given to helping share Memorare, Sand Creek 1864.”

    But now that he has agreed to let me share this profile, let me offer my profound thanks to this kind patron of the arts. Larry, you made a difference. Thank you.

    Are you interested in Memorare, Sand Creek 1864? I am offering a limited number to private collectors. Please contact me for details.