Lost-wax casting (also called "investment casting", "precision casting", or cire perdue which has been adopted into English from the French) is the process by which a duplicate metal sculpture (often silver, gold, brass or bronze) is cast from an original sculpture. Intricate works can be achieved by this method.
The oldest known example of this technique is a 6,000-year old amulet from Indus valley civilization.Other examples from a similar period are the objects discovered in the Cave of the Treasure (Nahal Mishmar) hoard in southern Israel, and which belong to the Chalcolithic period (4500–3500 BC). Conservative estimates of age from carbon-14 dating date the items to c. 3700 BC, making them more than 5,700 years old. Lost-wax casting was widespread in Europe until the 18th century, when a piece-moulding process came to predominate.
The steps used in casting small bronze sculptures are fairly standardized, though the process today varies from foundry to foundry. (In modern industrial use, the process is called investment casting.) Variations of the process include: "lost mould", which recognizes that materials other than wax can be used (such as: tallow, resin, tar, and textile);[ and "waste wax process" (or "waste mould casting"), because the mould is destroyed to remove the cast item.
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