Part 5 – Finishing

Making HEXAPODA is a 5-part series explaining how HEXAPODA items are made

In this final part of the series, I’ll explain how our rough casting is transformed into a finished Magicicada via a multi-stage process that involves preparing the piece to receive its finishing treatments, followed by application of the treatments themselves …

Similar to creating the Master Casting – from which our latex mold was made – each new casting must be cleaned of investment residue and trimmed of its sprues (which originally provided the channel for the molten metal to flow).

The surface of the new casting will have become oxidized during the casting process, and because we plan to treat and color the surface, this oxidation will need to be removed. To do this, the Magicicada is placed in an acidic pickling solution, which chemically dissolves the oxidation, leaving the casting clean, and free from surface contaminants.

Now using small files and rotary burrs, the body of the Magicicada is blended and sculpted to transition the points where the sprues were attached, and to add further definition to the lines, edges and texture of the piece.

When these metalworking stages are complete, the Magicicada is ready to be colored.

To start the process, the Magicicada is dipped in a specific chemical solution, the purpose of which is to give the surface of the bronze an organic brown patina. The solution chemically reacts with the bronze over time to create this effect, and serves as a color base for all subsequent treatments.

For the Magicicada, which has distinct areas of color, pigments are applied by brush to those areas requiring it. The piece is then heated in an oven to 200F, which encourages the pigment to bond to the metal – plus also helps to age the newly patinated surface.

For a richer, deeper color, the pigments must be applied in layers, so after remaining at 200F for 10 minutes, the Magicicada is removed from the oven and the sequence repeated up to 4 times per color, until the desired effect has been achieved.

After all the colors have been applied, the Magicicada is blended by hand using fine abrasive pads, to ensure everything appears as seamless and natural as possible.

Finally, several thin layers of varnish are applied for protection and to provide a subtle sheen over the final piece.

I very much hope this series provided an interesting insight into how the Magicicada and other pieces in The HEXAPODA Collection are made.

If you have any questions, do let me know.