many years ago I had a job making some wooden objects which required
a bronze plaque with company logo inset. (Door push bars for a
shopping centre/movie theatre) The plaques were about 6" diameter
and the design was a stylized apple tree with leaves, apples and all
outlined in raised polished bronze with the background recessed. The
lines were approximately 1/16" wide for the most part. How to make
the pattern for the sand casting of the plaques?
I called a company that made printing plates and the like and asked
them to make a “Stamping Die” which is what is used to stamp and
affix gold leaf lettering on book covers. I sent them a black and
white photocopy of the design and for a very reasonable price they
sent back a stamping die which I could use as a pattern. It was made
of a fairly thick aluminum plate, (or some similar material), a bit
over 1/8" thick, to best of my recollection. The die was made by an
etching process so the raised lines were all quite sharp edged and
clean and the background where it was etched out had a natural draft
to it. I was then able to affix the pattern to a wood backing and I
sent it to a large industrial foundry where they turned the job over
to their apprentices as a challenge because the level of detail was
about at the limit of what those apprentices could handle. They soon
returned the 3 dozen or so bronze plaques I’d ordered, again at a
very reasonable price. Basically the charged, as foundries do, by
the weight of material.
In your case, since you are probably not making multiple copies of
one design but many different ones I might try the following. I
might consider that you could photocopy a typeface that you like,
perhaps multiple copies of each letter so you’d have enough of each
to complete any possible name you want to cast. Print it out
whatever size you like. It could look something like this;
AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaBBBBBBBbbbbb CCCCC, , etc.
Leave a bit of space between letters. Have the whole sheet made as a
stamping die. You could cut apart the letters, first by line and
then each line into individual letters. Next you could mount each
letter on a suitable backing for easier handling - making sure the
backs and total height of each piece was uniform so you would have
what is essentially the equivalent of pieces of type. These could
then be affixed into a frame or rack or whatever you want to call it
and you’d be able to press the whole thing into sand for your mold.
You might do this simply with double-faced tape.
Alternatively, if you can find or buy a font of old-fashioned lead
type of the typeface and size you like, that’d be good too as
ordinary lead type has draft - although I’m guessing it has become a
rare item. Call some print shops and ask where those can still be
Or call a local foundry or tombstone maker - where they make things
like grave markers and such and ask where they get their pattern for
bronze plaques. Let yer fingers do the walking.
Marty Hykin in Victoria BC - a walking font of increasingly obsolete and