Frequently asked questions:    Back to Home

How long have we been offering this program?

Northwest Artworks was established in 1986 as a family-owned fine art bronze
foundry.  We've cast for a variety of professional artists who show in galleries, parks
and museums.  Education of the casting process has always been foremost in the
Pettelle family's view of running the business. In 1990, Northwest Artworks
developed the Student Outreach Program.   

How did the Outreach Educational Program start?

Interest grew after an article was written about our family run foundry in a local
paper.  We had an overwhelming response.  We were approached by many curious
groups and individuals wanting tours, interested classroom teachers asking us to
lead lectures, artists intrigued to see the process and colleges seeking field trips.   It
is currently safer and easier to offer this program in a format that comes to your
location.  Our interest is keeping this art form alive by educating others.  We have a
love for the process and want to be available to educate all those interested. We
offer this program as a public service at an affordable price that covers costs.

What do students do in the class?

Everyone participating in this program will receive a softened wax ingot that is easy
to sculpt.  We blend our own non-toxic wax so that it is user friendly, much like
bendable clay. When the wax sculpture is completed, it will be prepared safely off
site at the foundry by highly skilled craftsmen using the lengthy lost-wax process.  
Your art piece will have all the details that you put onto your original wax sculpture.  
All castings are made from a solid high quality fine arts bronze and then brush
finished.  If you choose,  we come out to your location and present lectures and
PowerPoint presentations on the process and answer questions.  Our Outreach
Program provides enrichment opportunities. It is our goal to leave you with a lasting
impression and appreciation for the arts, history and the old world lost wax process.
Bronze is durable and your unique art pieces will last for thousands of years.  You
will be creating your own artifact.

Why have a bronze field trip come to me?

Bronze is a powerful and lasting art medium but very few people ever have a chance
to experience the process. Our program is an easy way to access it.  Northwest
Artworks provides access to foundry arts for local schools that do not have the
proper facilities to pour in bronze or the industrial setting for oven wax burn-outs.  
This is an economical way for the student to have a high level introduction to fine
metals. With recent funding cuts to many local art programs, there is less art in
schools. This is a unique way to bring a rarely offered bronze program to a safe
classroom setting. Everyone gets involved and comes away with a bronze keepsake
and a deeper understanding of the rich history of lost wax.    

Who can sign up?

Groups of 12 or more, ages 5 and up.

Is any experience needed?

No prerequisites, all levels welcome.

What about advanced students?

"Hot Art, Cool Castings" was originally designed as the lowest fee, most accessible
opportunity we could offer so that others could experience bronze medium.  
Advanced classes can be arranged for local colleges or private studios.  Advanced
classes dive deeper into learning about the process and frequently use multiple wax
ingots combined per sculpture for larger tabletop artworks.  College instructors
should contact us with any questions if they are interested in teaching a bronze
component to their classes.     

What should we expect?

Our program is designed to come to your location providing instruction,
presentation, all materials, tools and examples.

What do we need at our location?

An available workspace: e.g., a indoor room or outdoor space with tables or desks
w/chairs and an available power outlet.

Where has this program been successfully offered before?

Public and private elementary, middle and high schools, colleges, vocational
programming, art camps, clubs, groups and organizations, community centers, parks
and recreation, senior centers, special needs programs and on location at hospitals.
We are often asked to return for yearly events.  We offer during and after-school
enrichment, hands-on museum experiences or continuing education courses.  For a
list of our previous class locations go to:  
Student Bronze Programs Successfully

What are themes classes and do we need to have one?

We are happy to design a bronze class around a particular theme or idea based on
a group’s, club’s, or classroom's interest or curriculum.   Themes provide a unique
opportunity for groups that want to customize or have unity in a group project.   No,
you do not have to have a theme component.  We frequently hold open studio
classes where the theme is just that, open.  Either way it is a modern day ticket to
the Bronze Age.
Theme examples.

Are there any artistic limitations?

We want everyone to have success.  Clear examples will be provided in our classes
on what does and doesn't work.  We will be casting solid, without a welding
component, so there are some parameters we will be working within.  An instructor
can be provided on location to help you with size and detail parameters for a
successful casting.   

How is this program funded?

Our programs are mostly fee-based classes. The saying used to be that old
teachers never die they just lose their class; unfortunately all too often today it’s “Art
teachers never die, they just lose their funding.”  We understand this dilemma. We
are doing all we can to keep costs down and bring a quality fine arts experience to
you.  Some schools and organizations are successful in writing grants for larger

What if I want to hold the class myself and have you do the castings?

Teacher kits are available. Teacher kits include instruction manual, power point
presentation, sculpting tools & waxes, bronze castings, all shipping & handling fees
and consultation with the Program Director. $35.00 per student, 14 student
minimum.  Teacher kits are available online @

Where do you hold classes?  

We are affiliated with private & public organizations to bring to you the bronze
program throughout the Pacific Northwest from Seattle, WA to Portland, OR.  Our
class can be arranged anywhere in the US & Canada through the mail with teacher
kits.  Please note that if you are interested in representing this program in your
school district, anywhere in the US, we can accommodate your programing with
larger kits. Visit us  online @ see
what program will best fit your needs. Also, we encourage school and museum art
docents to contact us. We have all the presentation materials you need to
complement your existing program. Individual Wax Sculpting Kits are also now
available online @

How much does it cost to have you come to my school?  

All supplies and pour costs are included.
Fee:  $38.00 per student per sculpture & class (price includes on-site instructor)   
Length of instruction: 1 classroom hour
Ages: all
Please contact us directly is you are interested in having one of our teachers hold a
class at your school.    

How do I contact you?  

You can email us with questions or to arrange a class:
 Contact Page

Does bronze contain lead?

There are many types of bronze made in a variety of countries throughout history.  
Our bronze is safe to handle and does not contain lead.  It is intended for decorative
use and we do not recommend bronze objects to be used to consume food or drink.  

What is bronze made of?

The bronze used in casting fine art sculpture is referred to as “art bronze” and
contains different elements than industrial bronze.  The art bronze used by
Northwest Artworks contains approximately 94% copper, 4% silicon, 1% manganese
and less than 1% tin, zinc, iron, nickel, aluminum , antimony sulfur and phosphorus.

How do I soften the wax safely?

We only recommend a warm, not scalding hot water method.  Wax can be heated
safely by soaking in warm water.  Since the oil in wax does not mix well with water, be
sure to pat dry your wax with a paper towel thoroughly after you take it from the
water.  The more wax is worked with your hands the softer it becomes and easier to
use.  If the wax becomes stiff before you are done working, simply re-heat by
soaking your art piece in warm, not hot, water.  Many artists use toaster ovens or
microwaves to soften their wax before they begin.  Due to obvious fire hazards and
safety factors we cannot recommend this method.  Always use caution around
warmed wax to make sure it is not too hot to safely handle.  Close adult supervision
should always be used around children.  Once the wax become malleable, it will stay
workable for quite some time.

What can I do?

Get your group involved.  The lost-wax process has a long noble history that nobody
wants to see die or fade away.  Due to its nature, it is a time consuming, labor
intensive and an expensive process done by a few remaining skilled craftsmen
around the world.  This program is one way to keep the art alive.

How are bronze sculptures made?


Sponsor a child.

With the help of thoughtful donors this program has provided scholarships to
children in hospitals and to others otherwise unable to attend by traditional means.
Leave no child left the arts!  Private donations and memorial-fund
scholarships are gratefully accepted and can be funneled through a non-profit 501
(c)3. Make a big difference - giving the gift of art is giving an experience that will last
a lifetime.
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Northwest Artworks, Inc.
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