Hot Metal in Reservoir

On Saturday I went to the opening of Mal Woods Foundry in Reservoir. Sculptors, foundry workers, friends and interested people gathering to watch bronze being poured along with nibbles and drinks.

The weather was great, a pleasant sunny day, I bicycled to the foundry from Coburg. “This must be the place.” I thought as I cycled along Kurnai Ave. The factory and even its carpark was an oasis of tasteful design in the industrial area.

Mal Woods Foundry

The professionals were talking about their work including another Boer War Memorial with one and half sized equestrian statues. I can see why the sculptor, Louis Laumen and the foundry workers are keen on the project, more work for them. I can also see why the people behind the project might be having difficulty raising funds for it. Why does Australia need more Boer War Memorials?

There were amateur backyard foundry enthusiasts talking about their hair dryer or vacuum cleaner fanned furnaces. I didn’t know that there were amateur backyard foundries casting small objects in plaster moulds.


At the back of Mal Woods Foundry the moulds that had been drying out in a kiln and were then placed in a large metal trough and secured in place with sand.

Mal Wood added an ingot of tin and two large ingots of copper to the furnace, the tin first and then the copper. These two soft metals when combined produce an alloy that is harder than either of them.

Removing crucible from furnace

The roar of furnace dies away and in front of the assembled crowd the crucible was removed. The temperature of the bronze tested and then the bronze was poured into the moulds. I didn’t see the results of these castings, you couldn’t tell from the moulds, not with all the venting pipes. When I left the bronze was turning from florescent pink to dark purple in the moulds, still hot enough to warm a person standing nearby.

Bronze pouring into cast

Sculpture moulds cooling

For more on foundries read my 2012 post Casting Sculpture in Melbourne.


About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

5 responses to “Hot Metal in Reservoir

  • Stef

    Looks like a great place. Funnily enough this address is where I used to take my Volvo to get repaired until recently (Volvonly is now around the block). The gentrification of Rezza continues – now the makers, soon the speculators. There’s a brewery around the corner now. That creek-facing side of Kurnai has been rezoned too apparently…just a matter of time before apartments will begin to sprout.

  • Mark Holsworth

    “Gentrification” was hardly the word that sprang to mind, de-industrialisation perhaps. There is a new residential development at the old Kodak factory and the creek is not unattractive.

    • Stef

      They’re kind of linked in my view…one follows the other maybe? ie old industries leave, makers move in, followed by the people who suddenly are able to look at the suburb in a new way. Edgars Creek is on the cusp. Across the creek in Kia Ora Road is the house that’s been in that home reno show on telly. Be interesting to see how many people follow. That pocket of Rezza is quite pretty.

  • Eucalypso

    I looked up the foundry on Google. A great resource for artists wanting to cast sculptures but without a studio.

  • Mark Holsworth

    It is always interesting seeing what sculptures are cast at what foundry. With a good foundry even artists without a background in sculpture like Del Kathryn Barton or Luke Cornish can make good works.

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