The unique experience of viewing bronzes in their final form as well seeing them being manufactured has become a reality with the opening of a 2800m² space in the new cultural institution in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The new building includes two art galleries (Donald Greig Gallery and the brand new Harbour Gallery) and a new foundry (Bronze Age Foundry: Sculpture Casting Services) that is said to be one of the largest art foundries in the Southern Hemisphere.
The conception of the new facility emerged when the Donald Greig Gallery was seeking to increase its exhibition space and the foundry owners needed to expand their manufacturing capabilities to accommodate the foundry’s ever-increasing order book. The outcome is a visual experience that is unique to Cape Town and will be a culturally rich experience for visitors and clients.
“We are very excited with the opening of this new facility and its unique concept that not only seeks to enhance the experience of visitors but gives us the opportunity to showcase our expanded and extensive manufacturing processes that we believe no other art foundry can offer in South Africa,” said Warren Knight, one of the brothers of the family business that was founded in the 90’s by Robert Knight, who was later joined by Warren and their other brother Bruce.
In the foundry at Sculpture Casting Services
A large bronze in the final stages
“With many sculptors looking to South Africa for quality foundry work and affordability due to the weakening rand we believe that we are now in a position to offer them a complete package, and more.”
“Sculpture Casting Services has grown from small beginnings to one of the largest fine-art foundry and fabrication facilities in Africa. The business has seen some major transformations in the past few years culminating in the opening of the new foundry in the V&A Waterfront vicinity in October 2016.”
Sculpture Casting Services and Bronze Age Art Foundry team up to form Sculpture Casting Services Holdings
The new foundry and related services is the first opportunity for Sculpture Casting Services and Bronze Age Art Foundry to showcase their services as a result of their recent merger to form Sculpture Casting Services Holdings.
Bronze Age Art Foundry’s Otto du Plessis and Charles Haupt are responsible for A Modern Renaissance of The Bronze Age at their foundry in Woodstock, Cape Town. They created a creative community concept in 2012 when they opened up a new lost wax foundry in The Woodstock Foundry, a heritage building that had been renovated to combine the beautiful character and craftsmanship of the old world with the design and amenities of a modern world. With Bronze Age Foundry (formerly based in Simon’s Town) at its heart, The Woodstock Foundry at 160 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town has a delightful mix of creative ateliers and stores. The ability for visitors to the building to view the working lost wax foundry in an operational environment while situated in a retail space was a first at the time. This has now been extended to the V&A Waterfront facility but with added services now on view.
Madiba about to leave the factory
A polyurethane mould being cut by the Yaskawa robot
The concept for The Woodstock Foundry is a creative community that brings together different design disciplines and makes them accessible to the public. It is a destination where you can have lunch or just a coffee, buy some furniture, visit a barber and buy a piece of jewellery for your wife and view a working lost wax foundry in operation, all under one roof.
During its history Sculpture Casting Services has been manufacturing bronzes for well-known sculptors and artists from around the world, casting from the smallest to the largest sculptures. Their ability to embrace and deploy innovation and the latest technology in the company’s manufacturing environment has enabled them to stick out amongst the crowd.
“We are not just a foundry / fabrication facility. We have used the latest technology available to increase our quality and offer more services that allow artists to express their visions without fear of failure,” said Warren Knight.
More cutting with the Yaskawa robot
A bronze lion being manufactured
“One of our biggest enhancements was in 2013 when Sculpture Casting Services, Bronze Age and Preferred Solutions formed a company – 3D Echo Tech – that uses cutting edge technology to assist anyone who requires accurate scanning and up or down scaling of sculptures. Our skilled team can replicate your design or artwork at virtually any scale you can imagine by 3D printing in plastic or powder. For larger pieces we can cut your artwork by CNC routing or robotic arm in styrene or polyurethane.”
“We can take a 70cm Marquette and scale it to the artist’s requirement and quickly fabricate a scale model of a physical part or assembly using three-dimensional computer aided design (CAD) data. Construction of the part or assembly is usually done using 3D printing or “additive layer manufacturing” technology.”
“With the assistance of proprietary software packages such as Solidworks, Mach 3, ZBrush (a digital sculpting tool) and Rhinoceros 5, a package that creates, edits, analyses and translates NURBS curves, surfaces, and solids in Windows, we are able to offer artists the assurance that their artwork will be created as they envisaged.”
The 8 metre lion ready for shipping
“The other tools that we have at our disposal now include Creaform Go!SCAN, a 3D portable scanner that captures 3D data in full colour and Artec Space Spider, a high-resolution handheld 3D scanner based on blue light technology. These scanners are professional solutions for 3D digitising real-world objects with complex geometry and rich texture in high resolution.”
The new foundry
“The merger of Sculpture Casting Services and Bronze Age Art Foundry and moving into the new facility in the V&A Waterfront has many benefits for us. Our new space will make it easier for us to manage and assemble larger sculptures,” said Randell Maree of 3D Echo Tech, the company within the group that is responsible for 3D scanning, printing, file modification and archiving, CNC router services, reverse engineering, sculpture enlargement, rapid prototyping and custom architectural mouldings.
Sculpture Casting Services manufacture many wildlife bronzes for various sculptors
“We have ensured that this new facility has much more room than our facility in the Strand. The ceiling at the Waterfront facility has a maximum height clearance of over nine metres in places. This, combined with a much larger floor space, means that we can take on much larger projects than before.”
“The new foundry is now equipped with a new 120 kilogram induction furnace that has replaced an old diesel furnace. We have also installed a 3 tph continuous mixer that was manufactured by Lauds Foundry Equipment as well as a new Unicam CNC router. The existing equipment that includes the Yaskawa robot, the MakerBot Replicator 2 and Wanahao Duplicator 3D printing machines have also been relocated to the new facility.”
“We are now better equipped to produce the increasing number of quality large art scaling and movie set jobs that we have become known for.”
Improved cutting accuracy
“As part of the move of our operation to the Waterfront we have designed, had engineered and implemented a brand new bracket guidance system that allows us to rotate blocks with much better accuracy when cutting the reverse side of polyurethane blocks. We have also standardised the size of polyurethane blocks we cut to 1100mm x 2200mm or 1100mm x 1100mm as part of this change. In addition, we have implemented an improved calibration procedure for our CNC’s and robot. As a result our completed jobs are much more accurate.”
Reduced machining costs
“With improved calibration and better accuracy comes reduced wastage and re-cuts. This translates into improved efficiency and therefore improved costs. We see 3D Echo Tech as an extension of our customers’ operations so we are passing these cost-savings on to our customers to reward them for their loyalty and to help them secure bigger and better projects.”
A bronze in the production stages
“This makes us one of the most versatile art foundries that is equipped with the latest technology at our disposal.”
Added features: In-house studio
“Many of our clients do not have studios large enough to accommodate the size of projects we cut for them. We have included some of our floor space as a studio for clients to use to finish projects. This is especially convenient for clients who will have their projects moulded and cast in the foundry,” continued Warren Knight.
“Visiting artists will be able to work on the scaled detailed polyurethane armatures we produce to finish them for moulding – complete with rotary table and lift. This means that sculptors from abroad will now be able to plan working holidays in beautiful Cape Town, stay in the local hotels of their choice, eat at some of the best restaurants in the country, visit the many local galleries and studios and mingle with local fellow artists – all practically within walking distance from the projects they will be working on at our new facility.”
New Harbour Gallery
“The second of the two galleries in the facility is our own gallery. Harbour Gallery has been incorporated so as to make it available for both visiting and local artists to exhibit their work. This is going to be a huge bonus for them.”
“The close proximity to the brand new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art and the Donald Greig Gallery will make it a rewarding experience for both artists and visitors. We are also very excited to be part of this unique setup,” said Knight.
Sculpture Casting Services Holdings
Sculpture Casting Services Holdings now includes the new V&A Waterfront foundry and gallery, the Bronze Age Foundry in Woodstock, offices and design studio in the Strand, Western Cape, branches in Somerset West and Nottingham Road (Natal Midlands), Fusion Five Art Foundry in the Strand and Art on Church Gallery in Stellenbosch. A new facility is planned for 2017 that will be located in Paardevlei, Western Cape.