Coles Castings Art Foundry

Coles Castings Art Foundry
Fine Art Foundry • Shaftesbury • Dorset

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Welcome to our News Page.

Updated : Thursday, February 23, 2017

Here we will keep you up-to-date with events and developments for Coles Castings.

Doe, a deer, a female deer.

Coles Castings was very pleased to welcome international artist Katie Surridge to the workshop the other week. Katie required a series of bronze antlers to be cast that are to be used as part of a public art commission in the New Forest later in the year.

Due to the intricate nature of the antlers normally the lost wax method would be the best process to cast with. However, since only one set were required of each pair of antlers, in this instance it wasn’t appropriate or viable to go to the expense of producing mother moulds of each individual antler. As such it was decided that sand casting would be the best way forward, and that multipart piece moulds would be made of each antler to compensate for the number of undercuts there would inevitably be.

It was a productive week, 4 large moulds weighing in at around 350kg a piece were produced with each mould averaging around 9 sections. The moulds were clamped and buried and all the castings turned out well. Katie will be finishing the pieces back up in Hereford where she is currently studying, ahead of the install later in the year.

Below are some images of the various stages of the process, for more information on Katie please visit her website:

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Turtle soup

Coles Castings was pleased to welcome international artist and RCA foundry technician David Snoo Wilson down to the workshop the other week. I have had the pleasure of working with Dave on a number of projects over the past couple of years, one of which was the first iron invitational held last July down here in Dorset.

We attempted to cast a turtle shell in iron at said invitational, suffice to say another was required and as such we decided to brave the unseasonably warm January weather to produce it. The two-man waste oil furnace was fired and a good crucible of grey cast was produced. The mould filled well and the casting came out clean.

Dave is currently in the process of finishing said casting which shall be used in conjunction with other elements to form a sculptural piece at some point in the not too distant future, images of the finished piece shall follow in a future update. For more information on Dave’s work and practice please visit:

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Blandford School War Memorial restoration

Coles Castings is pleased to share the successful restoration and installation of the Blandford School War memorial. Having been contacted by the school's board of governors back in March of this year, the brief was for the repair of the two bronze plaques commemorating the troops of the first World War; as well as the commissioning of a new plate to mark the Second World War and Falklands conflict.

Below are a series of images chronologically depicting the various processes involved within the restoration including the setting of a new pattern and casting of the new plaque. As well as the production of a bespoke oak frame in conjunction with Burr Woodworks based out of Hindon for the finishing of the memorial.

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Balloons, Bronze & Bananas

Exciting developments are afoot, Coles Castings was pleased to welcome London based artist Charlotte Law back to the workshop the other week. Charlotte has been experimenting with casting directly from both bananas and balloons, using the lost wax method and ceramic shell processes on offer at the workshop. The bananas were cast in bronze during Charlotte's last visit and the balloons are due to be cast in aluminium later next month. More on that front as and when, for more information on Charlotte's practice please visit: 

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B'Boy Cush comes to Broomhill.

I am very pleased to announce that I was shortlisted for this year's National Sculpture Prize at Broomhill in Devon earlier this year. The proposal put forward by myself was for a spinning skittle (cush pin) 4 foot in length and cast out of Aluminium. To date this is the largest piece that we have cast and involved a process whereby crucibles of aluminium were melted in our large oil furnace and then decanted into our largest iron ladle. In all the ladle required 4 crucibles of metal to fill and was kept hot with a pre heater torch, the ladle was then hoisted into position off of a recently refurbished gantry and poured into each of the moulds. Each mould took a full ladle of metal and both castings turned out extremely well, to say that this process was not pushing the facility to it's limit is a slight understatement but thanks to a brilliant crew of people on the day everything ran fantastically.

Below are a few images of the process from mould making through to installation, a big thank you to the pour crew:

Jo Lathwood (Ore and Ingot
Sam Eade
Luke Doddington
Krishula Aukland (

Also thanks to Alex Argo ( and Andy Loader for fabrication during the project. 

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Coles Castings welcomes Kristen Tordella

Coles Castings was pleased to welcome Kristen Tordella Williams Assistant Professor of Art at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS to come and produce work this past Summer whilst she was in Europe. Kristen produced a series of cast wreathes working with both wax and materials gathered from the local environment. Kristen can be seen pictured working on the wax for a cast iron wreath that was wrapped with fleece that had been gathered from wire fences in the area. 

This particular piece was cast in iron using the ceramic shell method, we were fortunate enough to have a good crew of people join us from the West Wales School of the Arts to help run our intermediate cupola. The shell was cast hot and then annealed immediately after, this ensured the casting did not crack during cooling. The piece cast well and Kristen can be seen showing the fettled casting. The piece was then finished back in the States and currently resides in Mississippi.

A full selection of Kristen's work can be found on her website:

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Ceramic shell up and running!

Coles Castings is pleased to announce that we finally have ceramic shell operational. Last week heralded the successful completion of the first project undertook using this particular casting method. As such we are now able to offer a full range of services for casting figurative wax work in both bronze or iron depending on which material is called for. This particular project called for brass to be cast, it is not a metal we will be casting again nor one that I would personally recommend but after some tweaking the pieces turned out to a good standard.

Due to the intricate nature of the object, a complex feeding system was required to ensure that the pieces turned out well. Furthermore a shell preheater kiln was constructed to make certain the shells were poured hot at around 400 degrees. The shells were yellow hot when cast and this method aided greatly in ensuring that the pieces cast well. The shells were kept at this temperature for around half an hour after casting to allow any oxides and impurities that may have been present within the metal to dissipate and as such we were left with good clean castings.

More to follow on this process as and when but so far so good.

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Dorset AONB.

I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque

Coles Castings is pleased to announce in conjunction with Dorset AONB we are currently in the process of casting aluminium lettering for various Fingerpost signs in and around the County of Dorset. For those not in the know the fingerpost is the traditional style of signpost, they date as far back as the late 17th Century. The style more familiar to most though was enacted in the early part of the 20th Century in relation to the highway authority. 

What with the foundry being based in Dorset it is nice to be able to work on this project especially as these signposts are in decline and tend to be replaced with modern signage if and when they become damaged. The Dorset AONB is seeking to preserve these signs so as to preserve part of the heritage of the County and Coles Castings are only to happy to help with that endeavour.

More information on the fingerpost project can be found on the following website:

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6, Visit from Six.

Happy to announce that we had 6 artists connected with 'Six' contemporary art space based in Boscombe visit the studio over the weekend. A tour of the facility was had along with many discussions over quite a few cups of tea about various plans and schemes. As well as the planning we fired up the small one man crucible furnace on oil and melted some aluminium, it was a good opportunity to showcase the potential for workshops that Coles castings can provide and everyone went away with a piece of work. A good session and great visit, thanks again to all those who made the trip up.

For more information on 'Six' why not visit their Facebook Page;

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6 Visit from 'Six' 6 Visit from 'Six'

International American Sculptor Elizabeth Helfer stops by the Studio.

We're pleased to announce that a few weeks ago New Hampshire based sculptor Elizabeth Helfer decided to stop by the studio for a few days in order to produce her latest sculpture in bronze. The piece titled 'Bronzing Baby's shoes' is the latest to be produced by the artist from a long line of figurative based work. Helfer had spent a portion of the Summer touring Europe and making work and before leaving for the USA decided to come and use the facilities here at Coles Castings.

We were happy to facilitate the artist and help her produce the piece, having significant experience in metal casting Liz was able to prep the mould herself. The mould was then cast by us and although she fettled the piece and cleaned it to a standard for documentation we will be going on to finish metalworking and patinating the piece for her. The casting is being shot blasted at the moment and when it is back in the studio it will be ready for patination. More to follow on this story soon.

The images below show the mould making process as well as the casting of the work and breaking out of the piece from the mould.

For more information on Elizabeth Helfer and her work please visit her website: 

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Fire at Fawley Hill!!! 

Last weekend (17-19/05/2013) was an exciting one; what with the Fawley Hill Steam and Vintage weekend of which Coles Castings was one of the exhibitors. We decided to take our 160lb capacity portable cupollette NEIGE (Near Enough Is Good Enough), and set about pouring a half-ton of iron over the course of the two-day event. 

In terms of work to be poured, we are currently working on a project for a client who wants cast iron, raised beds, for their apple trees in their orchard. There are 60 trees in all and as such 240 plates will need to be cast in order to meet the quota. The weekend at Fawley was advantageous in as much as we are about a third of the way through the order. 

The iron was hot and the furnace ran well, producing a tap of metal about every 20 minutes and the weather and the crowds were a delight. After talking with my crew we agreed that the addition of an ale tent and waltzers make any iron pour a far more civil experience. As for the Tapir and Capybara (whose enclosure was next to us) we can only hope they enjoyed the spectacle as much as the public seemed to.

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As well as our main focus on sculpture,
Coles Castings also offer casting services for general work in cast bronze or iron.
These include but are not limited to bespoke items, ornate ware, decorative castings,
commemorative plaques,vintage castings and individual commissions.

For more information please CONTACT US


Coles Castings Art Foundry • Shaftesbury • Dorset