Metal: FA 236 (2)

Watt Hall110  – Friday 9 am –12 pm

Catalog Description

Designed to explore techniques and philosophies of working with ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Explorations in welding and forging. Combining metals with other traditional and non-traditional sculpting materials will be encouraged in order to give a strong understanding in the versatility of art metals and it’s application. Students will be urged to produce individualized items and developing an understanding of art metal and its place in the fine arts field.

Brian Olson

Metal: FA 236 (2)

Watt Hall110  – Friday 9 am –12 pm

Course Purpose

Introduction to metal concepts in the creation of fine art.  Equal emphasis on safety, technical proficiencies and effective solutions in working with a variety of metals.
Suggested Reading:

Sculpture Tools, Materials and Techniques – Second Edition, by Wilbert Verhelst, Prentice-Hall 1988


Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Safely work with mild steel to construct complicated and unique 2D and 3D objects.
  • Discuss and use elements and principles of metal-smithing as they relate to the practice of fine art
  • Use various metal working tools (welder, plasma cutter, forge, box break, roller, shear) to create artwork.
  • Cast metal (bronze and/or aluminum) using the “lost wax” process


Required Resource

Notebook and safety gear including leather boots and gloves.



Students are required to attend class regularly.  You will not be able to use any equipment that was discussed in Safety lectures or demonstrated during your absences (or missed being late for class).  This will impact your ability to perform assignments and result in a lower grade.

In addition to the scheduled classes, you will be required to attend the bronze pour, (usually scheduled on a Thursday night from 9 pm – 2 am between week 12-14.) You will be released from class on the following Friday morning and have an additional class release to compensate.



Students will be graded primarily on completed bronze project.  The midterm test, quizzes (verbal and written) and attendance will have impact on the final grade.


Final Portfolio

Students will be required to photograph their work and submit it via email.   Metal: FA 236 (2)

Watt Hall 110  – Friday 9 am –12 pm


Course Schedule:


Classes will meet weekly and be composed of two parts.  The first part will consist of a lecture and demonstration; the second part will be a lab time for students to gain hands on experience. Students who miss any safety information will not be able to use equipment.


Week 1:  Introduction to metal. Lecture on safety equipment and gear.

Week 2:  Introduction to welding:  oxy-acetylene. Hand out 1st project


Week 3:  Welding demonstration & cutting demonstration with the wire feed welder and the plasma cutting system.  Introduce and demonstrate the arc welding equipment w/ safety quiz.


Week 4:  Introduction/Safety/Demo on MIG Welding & Plasma Cutter.

Week 5:  Sheet metal fabrication: Introduction/Safety/Demo on the box break, slip roller, shear.  Demonstrate various techniques of mechanical fastening.


Week 6:  Lecture and demonstration on metal forging. Hand out 2nd project.


Week 6:  Lecture on project planning design and construction methods.


Week 7:  Critique on 2nd project. (Midterm Test)


Week 8:  Lecture  & demonstrate the “lost wax” process of bronze casting.  Hand out 3rd project:


Week 9: Demonstration on mold making.


Week 10: Demonstration on gating and venting.


Week 11: Demonstration on working with microcrystalline and paraffin.


Week 12: Lecture and demonstration on investments including coating the wax mold.


Week 13: Lecture on “burning out” investments.


Week 14: Intro/Safety/Demo – Pouring Bronze.


Week 15: Demonstration on finishes.


Week 16:  Final critique on 3rd project and demonstration on shooting images for Final Portfolio.

Metal: FA 236 (2)

Watt Hall 110  – Friday 9 am –12 pm



Using the oxy-acetylene equipment demonstrate the use of the cutting, heating and welding tips.  This is a pass/no pass assignment.  Successful completion will illustrate your ability to safely use the equipment as well as identifying the principle parts of the equipment. You will also need to demonstrate how to change tips, turn on the gas & adjust the pressure, light a flame and shut down the equipment for storage.


-Cut 2 pieces of metal no larger that 6”x6” using the cutting tip.

-Alter the shape at least one piece using the heating tip, hammer & anvil.

-Weld the two items together using the welding tip.


Metal: FA 236 (2)

Watt Hall 110  – Friday 9 am –12 pm



Using the Plasma Cutter & MIG Welder (or Arc Welder) demonstrate the use of cutting and welding. This is a pass/no pass assignment.  Successful completion will illustrate your ability to safely use the equipment as well as identifying the principle parts of the equipment. You will also need to demonstrate how to set up and shut down the equipment for storage.


Using the Plasma Cutter cut four pieces of metal (no larger than 8”x8”.)  One piece should have a hole cut into it that a second piece can penetrate.   Use the two remaining pieces to prevent the second piece from being removed.


Metal: FA 236 (2)

Watt Hall 110  – Friday 9 am –12 pm

ASSIGNMENT 3 (Final Project)


This is your final project.  You will be using the lost wax project to create a bronze object.  You will be asked to make a “hood ornament” for a car.  Please be imaginative as this is more of a guideline to the scale of the object.  As this class has a broad range of majors, I would like to see your project encompass ideas or issues that are reflective of your course of study and/or your areas of interest.


You will create the object in wax, using either an additive or subtractive technique.  This will be cast in a plaster investment and placed in a kiln.  The wax will be burned out and leave a cavity which we fill with molten bronze.  When cooled, we will break it out of the mold and clean it up.


Please note: Your wax original will be destroyed.  If you have taken the casting classes, you may cast your item for multiples.


The object should not exceed 6×6”x1” (it should not have a “thickness” over 1” as the bronze will shrink when cooling.)  The wax will be in a “finished state”, as it will be mush easier to work wax then change the texture or shape after it has been made in bronze.


IMPORTANT: It is critical that you attend classes.  Successful students maximize the allotted lab times to complete their work.  If you try to rush this, your object will most likely not pour correctly and you will spend an excessive amount of time trying to remove defects from your work.