Copper in the Arts

July 2013

Laran Bronze: A Full Service Foundry That Is Home for Skilled Artisans

By Nancy Ballou

Bronze table Cast bronze table.

Photograph courtesy of Laran Bronze

Lawrence Welker, III, a sculptor with a Fine Arts Degree from Carnegie Mellon, started Laran Bronze in 1984. Today, after more than 25 years perfecting their craft, the Chester, PA-based foundry has grown into a full service bronze casting shop producing one of a kind, fine art sculptures that are known worldwide.

"My inspiration was to create a steady income and help clients plan each step beginning with concept development to obtain superior quality,” says Welker. “Staffed by skilled artisans, employees have the option to use the facilities during off hours for their own art. Clients can also work hands-on with their projects."

In addition to traditional ceramic shell and sand casting, newer technologies such as digital scanning, enlarging and induction melting are utilized to enhance the production of sculpture.

“The bronze used in casting is high quality silicon bronze,” says Welker. “We purchase ingots from Colonial Metals in Columbia, PA. If an enlargement is needed, the client provides a 3D model that is then scanned, digitally enlarged and cut to the desired size in foam using a CNC machine. Sometimes the high detail of the foam completes the piece, sometimes the artist wants to add clay to the foam to sculpt different detail and texture. Digitally scanned sculptures can also be reduced to create miniatures. Laran Bronze is able to produce any size scale, from small jewelry castings to large monumental projects. In addition to enlarging and casting, other provided services include mold making, patina, delivery, installation, restoration and maintenance. We provide tours, demonstrations and example pours for schools, retirement homes and others."

At work in the foundry At work in the foundry.

Photograph courtesy of Laran Bronze

Sculptor Ray Kaskey chose Laran Bronze to cast his World War II Memorial that is in Washington, D.C., and described the project as the "most important of my career. I wouldn't want to trust the casting to anyone I didn't have the utmost confidence in."

The foundry produced a life-size bronze cast of Henry Rowan by Zenos Frudakis for Rowan University. Mr. Rowan started a company that manufactured furnaces and Laran Bronze used one of his furnaces to cast his figure. They also cast four 10' figures of Philadelphia Phillies baseball players by Zenos Frudakis that are now at Citizens Bank Park. Other popular works include the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA, and a National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. Their projects can be found all over the world.

Welker III mentions, "Current artworks in progress include a 10' book for a PA high school and an 11' x 8' relief of the Revolutionary War complete with soldiers and cannon."

Over the years, the company has grown and evolved, adding on to their services to create Welker Design, a separate division of Laran Bronze. Sons Welker III and Welker IV have put their design and sculpting talents together to create figurative, abstract and functional sculptural pieces such as tables, lighting, wall art, architectural and decorative accessories.

Resources:

Laran Bronze, 310 East 6th St., Chester, PA, (610) 874-4414

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