With regards to the casting postings.
Available here in the UK there is a method of casting called the
Delft Clay. It involves a two part mold using a type of fine sand
mixed with `oil`. Very similar to the casting methods used in
The same kit (how to video, 2kg clay, 2.35" round drage & cope)
is available in The US from Rio Grande, $79.00. The clay is
available in 2 kg (4.4#) packages for $33.50. If you want to keep
your costs down, you should be able to make your own drag & cope
(from a suitable sized metal pipe) for a lot less than those
encluded with the kit.
Flat work is particularly easy to cast with this method.