Creating a Bronze Lamp Base, Part 1

At Century Studios, we make many of the reproduction bronze lamp bases we offer. Since we opened in June 1986, we have worked with a number of Tiffany reproduction lamp base makers and in February 2000, we acquired all the molds from one of the foundries we had been using. Around 2005 we acquired molds from a second lamp base foundry. We have also been making molds from original Tiffany metalwork ourselves as we have had access to pieces.

The process of creating a lamp base takes many steps and multiple molds/patterns. To reproduce the Square Turtleback base shown above, we employ the talents of our bronze foundry, a metal spinner for the spun copper collar, and a glass maker to press the turtleback tiles needed to complete the base.

The process of creating the bronze castings for the Square Turtleback base begins with a quarter section rubber mold that was made from an original Tiffany lamp base. We cast four sections in foundry wax, a dark brown wax that is firm, yet pliable. The mold is filled, and when cool each wax is checked and cleaned by hand to elimate any imperfections such as air bubbles that might appear on the surface of the wax part.

For this base a second mold is used to create the light cluster stem in wax. Because the stem must be hollow, the wax is poured into the mold, swirled around and poured back out several times, building up thin layers of wax until the desired wall thickness for the part has been achieved. The hot wax must be at just the right temperature so it coats but does not melt the previous layer. Once all the waxes are cast, the parts are then taken to a local bronze foundry.


Written by Century Studios