Today I'll put up a few more photos from my summer Bronze casting experience.
It was a course done with Neil Burridge and was basically a whole day's worht of work. The casting itself consisted of smashing up charcoal (the ordinary BBQ variety) and putting this into a sort of mini forge with a pair of bellows attached.
The Bronze had to be heated up till it became molten - all this is done by eye as the colour of the metal changes at the right temperature (yellow rather than red). After this temperature is reached, and as close to the melting point as possible, the cruicible is poured into the stone mould. A handful of seconds later - it is really fast - you get something like this if the casting elves are in a good mood!
The blade is then quenched which is both spectacular and helps to harden it. Bronze is apparently the opposite of steel in many regards to work with.
After cooling down the blade can be cleaned up with an abrasive stone to remove all the dirt and impurities on the surface.
Once this is done you can work harden the edge by hammmering and then polish it. The originals were polished using water and chalk as this is gently abrasive.
Then if you are as skillful as Neil you can make handles and scabbards like this (not a rapier like we had made but you get the idea)
If you're interested in this sort of thing be sure to check out this Dutch site (in English though) which has some great info on reproduction artefacts in bronze and other materials.