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Still from “Hadrian / Bronze Casting Using The Lost-Wax Technique” by Renana Aldor and Kobi Vogman (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

Lost-wax casting, a sculpting technique dating to the Chalcolithic period, is an elaborate process. Its many steps include spruing, slurrying, burnout, and metal chasing — terms lost on your average sculpture 101 student. Why go to all the trouble? The process allows for the creation of exact, hollow (and therefore lightweight) metal copies of existing marble sculptures, which weigh a ton and are otherwise difficult to reproduce.

The ingenious ancient technique is beautifully illustrated in a new video that combines stop motion and 2D animation. Renana Aldor and Kobi Vogman made the film to accompany the current exhibit Hadrian: An Emperor Cast in Bronze at the Israel Museum, which brings three surviving bronze portraits of the much-loathed Roman Emperor Hadrian (117–138 CE) together for the first time in Jerusalem. The animators visited a bronze casting workshop and collaborated with the curator and the restoration department of the museum. The floating head used here is a plaster replica of the original Hadrian bronze bust found in Tel-Shalem, Israel.

Watch the video here, but don’t try this at home, unless your home is a bronze casting workshop. 

via Vimeo

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.