Unemployed Foundry Manager turns artistic skill into a reality

“The past year was challenging and the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic not only impacted my life but millions of people around the world. My wife and I had to close our business like thousands of others.”

These are the words of Anton Combrink who has had 27 years of experience in the South African foundry industry working in two large industrial foundries for nearly half of those years before being employed at a functional art foundry for 12 years as foundry foreman and then production manager.

“When it was decided to close the aluminium foundry I was very upset. My team and I worked hard bringing up the quality and the cost down. The scrap rate was up at 37% and we got that down to below 7%. Production was also up by more than 300%. Then they decide to close the foundry and import all the product from India. But anyway we move on.”

Anton Combrink with Wimpie van der Sandt of Bok Radio about to hoist Freddie Mercury into position at the Heroes Restaurant

Freddie Mercury in position at the Heroes Restaurant

“Unemployed and unsure of what 2021 would hold for the future I realised that I had to reinvent myself. After all I am multiskilled with a vast range of experience. I am a qualified foundry patternmaker, have done product design, product development, production management, aluminium die-making, aluminium gravity die-casting, investment casting (lost wax), centrifugal mould-making and casting with zinc and pewter, as well as doing mould making, woodworking, woodturning and metalworking. Additionally, I have worked with the fibreglass and silicone moulds and the resin products used to cast the products. Other skills I have developed are designing, sculpting and painting. Each of the above comes with its own skills and I can happily say I can apply myself in many fields.”

“Waiting for the right job to come along is not an option, there are thousands of jobseekers and applicants. Therefore getting employed is very difficult especially if you are looking for employment in your industry.”

“I needed to think out of the box and be creative, using all my skills and experience to make unique products that will both satisfy me creatively and provide an income.”

“I have always been artistic but never pursued that side of my character fully. Being unemployed for months I started making chalk drawings and grayscale paintings because I absolutely had to be creating something.”

A wax model of the face and head of Elvis Presley

Slash (Saul Hudson – guitarist of Guns and Roses) in position to be admired

“My break came when the CEO and owner of Bok Radio, Wimpie van der Sandt, moved his radio station to a new premises and also in the same space opened up a restaurant called Heroes. On his morning breakfast show he spoke about the six pillars of rock music and would use the pillars in the restaurant area to display six artists. Listening to him that morning I sent him some ideas. Wimpie asked me to come see him and the next day we had a meeting. I took some drawings with me.”

“The meeting was very positive and Wimpie asked me to design, sculpture and manufacture his sculptures to use in his restaurant.”

“The artists that he chose are Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley, Slash, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney. I stared with Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley and then Slash. All of the sculptures are done from photographs we have of the artists.”

“I am using experience I gained through the years that I have been in the foundry industry. I use water-based acrylic resin to make the sculptures. The faces are done in moulding clay and thereafter I make a mould to cast the face in acrylic resin. I then use a kitchen peeling knife to sculp all the detail on the face and hands. My wife and I then design and make the clothing.”

“The sculptures have really been well received and Wimpie and I will be discussing future sculptures of rugby heroes and have them on display in the restaurant.”

“I hope to grow and make many other sculptures in future and could convert the acrylic resin-based figures into bronzes.”

For further details contact Anton on email antondcombrink@gmail.com