Tag Archives: matthew DG

El Jardin Studio

The new studio was finished February. It turned out much better than I expected. “A.” seems mostly happy with it. We’ve named it El Jardin, “The Garden”, and it’s an incarnation of a Tango clubhouse. We’re now set up to host Tango events, art and music shows, house guests, and more. For the past months we’ve been running a twice-monthly practica with our neighborhood tango friends. It is a private space by, so we’ve working on a balanced policy about who’s invited to come there.

These pictures show the progress from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022. First the wood floor is installed then it is covered while the painting takes place. After that the floor is “finished” and then we’re dancing! (without countertops)…


Why can I work with such certainty on intricate involving processes, but being spontaneous seems so difficult and confusing? You know how I work – being on step 37 of 77 gives me the structure of confidence to create without doubts about the outcome; the process covers up the reluctance to commitment to an idea and creates faith in the eventual results, brick-by-brick. But trying to be serendipitous with a new material and different imagery, means not completely knowing the ground you stand on, and wondering where you’re at and what’s next, much less, “is it finished?”

The Winter was so cold, I didn’t get out to my shop much. Even with the wood stove, I couldn’t get warm enough to work. But I did some drawings inside, on canvas, aside from the Venus idea I’ve shown here, that I’ll probably do as a wood carving. It’s underway whenever I can get to the tree trimmer’s and see what they’ll find for me, now that the snow’s melted

Meanwhile, this other thing showed up. I was drawing Roosters. Roosters, really, I don’t know why.



My guess is, once you’ve proposed the  universal Feminine principal, that it must inevitably call forth the Masculine element.

Chase and patina

When the cast piece is complete, and the sprues are cut-off, there remain scars where the grinder or saw was used. These areas need to be finished to match the look of the rest of the surface. To chase, is a metalworking term, to ornament metal by engraving or embossing. From this:

To this:


Just mess it up with chisels, punches, files, hammers, stones, whatever, it don’t try too hard to make a match of the texture. It’ll look fine when you heat the spot with a propane torch, which darkens the metal by oxidation I guess.

I leave it all outside for several weeks, and I spray it down regularly with a teaspoon of cupric nitrate mixed with 12 oz water.

..and it slowly turns this nice color. This is patina.


When I’m ready to commit to the patina, I give it a light wax to stabilize and protect it. This darkens and warms up the colors, and brings out the shiny highlights both at once. Real nice.




A and Q supply a nice rock for a base, and Eureka! It is finished & ready to show.


Less is More 6x9 75

October 4 – November 1, 2013

Main Gallery: Joyce Brienza & Matt De Genaro
Opening Reception: Friday, October 4 – 7pm – 9pm

Paint Creek Center for the Arts
407 Pine Street
Rochester, MI 48307

Gallery Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 9pm, Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm


The big day, again. The scene at H’s foundry studio

Bronze melting in the furnace, tools waiting on the line, mold preheating in the kiln. No action pictures, sorry, too busy. (video of another pour here)

The ceramic shell molds just filled:


As the metal cools, it shrinks, and begins to fracture the mold apart.


After lunch, we return, anxious to roughly smash up the shell and see what we have.





What I’m looking for is; the casting is complete, no voids or freeze-out of metal in any part, a generally smooth consistency of metal and good surface details faithful to the original. There is the customary small amount of pitting or scaring caused impurities in the bronze, which gives character to the material, and nothing much in terms of flaws from/in the shell molds which would require much repair or patching, there is a nice fire scale  and color to the casting.



I have a tremendous feeling of satisfaction well-earned. I grateful to be working on a team with guys who can produce such things as this. I feel it is a rare thing to be working at this level of excellence in anything, and I’m glad it is happening to me.

Next day, back at my shop, I take apart the second piece more thoroughly.




The shell mostly flakes away easily, and the deeper crevices are cleaned out using a chisel and hammer.





I have two fine castings.


Next, I cut off the sprue system.


Now I can see the completed piece, the complete general idea. It is excellent, what I hoped for.


Inevitably there is still much to do to detail or “chase” the casting; more cleaning, maybe sandblasting in places and patching\repairing some areas, and choosing whether or not to patina the piece and how. I’m leaning towards keeping the natural fire-scale finish, rather raw now, but it improves after a year or so naturally. Otherwise I’d considered that classic black with green haze patina we all know from museum pieces. Think about it. Another weekend and this will be ready for my show in October.

October 4 – November 1, 2013

Main Gallery: Joyce Brienza & Matt De Genaro
Opening Reception: Friday, October 4 – 7pm – 9pm

Paint Creek Center for the Arts
407 Pine Street
Rochester, MI 48307

Gallery Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 9pm, Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm



The accretion of shell continues for 15 layers.




The finished shells have their cups cut open to release the wax when it goes into the kiln.



They’re placed in the kiln, and fired up to 1500 degrees for 30 minutes to completely burn-out the wax and and any small wood pins used to support the structure sometimes. Now this is the true test to know that the shells are strong enough.


The wax doesn’t just melt out, it actually burns, which assures the mold is completely empty and dry, when the hot bronze is poured in later.  Any combustible material remaining in the mold during the metal pour could cause a dangerous explosion.


After the kiln has cooled, it is opened and the molds removed.


Everything looks great. No hairline cracks or flaws in the molds’ integrity. I had been worried up to this point, that the molds would be strong and sound.


H. and I are ready to setup for the pour next. The kiln stays nearby; we’ll preheat the shells again later when we pour metal, which is required to prevent a shock from hot metal hitting the relatively colder shell.  We move some fixtures around, and then, while digging a hole in the sand pit to place the molds into, I strain my back, which happens to me from time to time when I am not careful, unfortunately. So we must wait another week before we do the actual pour event.

What’s another week? My show’s still  six weeks off, so, why, uh, worry?

Sprue II & shell

And so, I’ve arrived at the final sprued and vented wax, complete, ready to encase in ceramic slurry and sand, the next step of preparation for the pouring of bronze.


These are the materials which make the shell. Colloidal silica slurry mix, and refractory silica sand. You dip the piece into the slurry, and sieve the sand onto the wet surface. Repeat up to eight or twelve layers. This work is taking place at “H”’s studio foundry, a place well-equipped for this. I’d not be able to do any of this without his generosity in sharing with me his superb facility, and his supportive help and advice. (Thanks)


I’m doing half the piece at a time since it is large enough to not fit in the bucket of slurry at once. It has been very warm here this past week, 90+ degrees, and as strong as I’ve tried to make the sprue system, the piece is moving and settling a bit. I want to get this solid shell going on it as fast as possible. There is a lot of difference in the way the wax behaves between 70 and 95 degrees. The first and later layers – green when wet and orange when dry. I’d rather be doing this in Winter, but I’m committed.


This is maybe three layers. many more to go, until it is solid enough to support the weight of the bronze eventually going into it.


Something else I’m doing also, unfinished from a while back. beach Stone people


Is this taking a long time? (I did go to the beach for 10 days). It was a year ago tomorrow since I completed the model for this sculpture, but for details.

A year.

Sprue system – part one

A sprue is the passage through which liquid material is introduced into a mold. A system of sprues is designed to deliver metal to all areas of the mold evenly and quickly. Bronze has shrinkage as it  cools; A sprue can continue to provide molten metal to the casting, provided it is large enough to retain its heat and stay liquid, as metal in the main casting cools and shrinks.

I prepared four waxes to sprue up. I may try different arrangements and discover which work best. This is especially crafty work. There are a variety of ways that this is done, superstitious and occult, and I wish there were more people to consult about it. Much of the shop talk in a foundry is on this subject.

The instinct is to start in attaching wax rods to the obvious points where the cleanup of the sprue marks on the final bronze will be easiest, and joining them up at some single location which will be the pour cup. But working this way can make a weak and fragile system. It has got to be strongly integrated with the sculpture, and really there is no way that an attachment point of wax merely melted together will hold the weight of the sprue system through all the handling that going to follow. No, not this:


What is needed is a self supporting structure which can bear all of it’s own weight, and further lend support to the sculpture. Something like your hand securely holding onto something delicate.


Your hand is the strong thing; the sculpture the delicate. Build something as if from the wrist, being the common point where the pour cup will be, to the hand, where the fingers are rooted from, to the fingers, which aren’t glued to the thing they hold, but hold/grasp onto it by virtue of their placement alone. Like this:


Here’s how. Warm up a pot of water to gently warm, not melt the rods you’re using. Pliable, but not soft. This is lukewarm or body temp water.


In this case I’m using the largest diameter rods I can, (to move metal into the mold fast and to be a strong structure), sometimes larger than the attachment point allows. Flattening the rod into a oval allows it to be fitted onto a smaller spot while keeping its same volume. Shape the rod to the piece, directly and without angles. The liquid metal wants a smooth path to follow, without creating turbulence.


When you have it right, dunk it in cold water to hold that shape.



Your shapes good? Outline them on paper so when you do the next one you’ll have a template to follow from. Save a lot of time later, especially years or next week later, when you can’t remember anything.



Assemble these together. Not by trying to melt then together with a soldering iron or whatever, but by taking some of the warmed-up wax you have and really shaping a physical joint that makes them one piece. This is sculpture in itself. Isn’t everything?




Cool this assembled sprue system in water. It should be strong enough to stand on it own, and then some. Wrist, hand, fingers.



This super-strong thing will then be integrated with the sculpture. A hint: those connection points will always be weak points of attachment. I enhance them with small pegs I make by cutting a small wax rod to size and inserting it into a melted hole I made with a soldering iron. Later I will melt another such hole into the piece and the rod (it just happens to be red wax) will support the connection much better.



It’s not all precision and detail here at DG International Studio. I can do sloppy work too, when I want. I need some wax rods to use for sprues in getting these waxes ready to pour bronze into, so I’m going to make a plaster mold to pour my own instead of finding someplace to buy them. I fit a cardboard box with some brackets to hold some rods in a variety of sizes. Finding the parting line on a 1” rod isn’t too hard, but on a 1/4”, more so.




It turned out to be difficult to extract the rods from the mold cleanly, the parting lines weren’t good enough, and I broke off a lot of the detail around and between each of the smaller rods especially, so the wax casts aren’t very neat.


I use a knife and trim off each one neatly into a cylinder. Takes a few minutes each, but in a weekend I made a mold which gets me several sets of rods in assorted sizes, and if I’d done it properly, with a rubber mold, I still be working on the mold today, instead of sprueing the wax models already.


But typical of me, I just can’t leave it alone. Someday, I have a plan to make a rubber inner mold using these two plaster halves.