Cold Casting

Posted December 27th 2016

Cold Casting is the term used to describe the process of mixing metal powders in a resin to create decorative features, which look as though they have been cast in metal. The castings give the appearance of solid metal, but are cheaper to produce, and are popular for use in sculptures, decorative paneling and furniture fittings, to name a few. Cold casting is also a popular technique for restoring antiques, or older furniture/household items. For example, if have something with brass fittings and you are missing one, cold casting could reproduce the part without the cost and time of doing it properly.

Different metal powders can be used in the process of cold casting, including bronze, brass, copper, silver, aluminium, tin and nickel – which powder is used will depend upon the desired finish. Bronze, copper and tin are amongst the popular metals to be used, although other powders such as porcelain and marble may be used instead of metal in some cases.

In order to make a cold casting, the resin and metal powder must be mixed together to form a thick mixture. There is no set amount of powder that should be mixed with the resin, however, good results can be achieved by carefully mixing until you have a thick paste, that is still pourable. This is then brushed into the mold to be used, making sure every surface is thoroughly coated, and once filled it is left to cure.

Once the mixture is dried, it can be removed from the mold and shaped as needed. Some casting may need to be sanded down and polished afterwards in order to get the desired effect.

The benefits of cold casting are lower cost and ease of the process. Its suitability depends on what the finished product should look like. Something that needs to have a highly polished surface, for example, may need to be further treated with a coating but a brushed finish is very easily attainable. Cold casting parts also have the benefit of not being susceptible to rust, making them far easier to maintain than if they were made of metal. Interestingly, it is also possible to create a ‘rusty’ cold cast if needed, by artificially aging it (for decorative purposes of course!).


‘Tis the Season

Posted December 20th 2016

As Christmas looms on the horizon, most of us have embraced the festive spirit with reckless abandon and succumbed to the tradition of decorating our homes with trees, tinsel and as many flashing lights as we can stand.

The tradition of using tinsel as a decoration is one that can be traced back to the 1600’s. Made with the intention of mimicking ice, tinsel was originally made of strands of silver – perfect for emitting the sparkling effect that ice would in real life. However, as silver can be quick to tarnish other metals were eventually substituted with tin and even lead having been used combined with silver.

By the early 20th Century tinsel had increased in popularity and was used to decorate sculptures and trees, as well as various areas of the home. Improvements in the manufacturing process allowed mass production of cheap aluminium based tinsel for a while, until World War 1 curtailed production.

During the 1950s normal production resumed and tinsel once again gained popularity as a Christmas decoration. As previously mentioned, lead was a popular material for several decades due to the fact it did not tarnish as easily as silver. In the 1960s, however, its use was phased out in the face of concerns about lead poisoning. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement in August 1971 concluding that lead tinsel posed on unnecessary risk to children exposed to it. After 1972 manufacturers began to stop producing lead tinsel, although the FDA did not actually place a ban on it. As they did not have enough evidence to support this at the time they declared it a health hazard instead and encouraged people to stop using and importing it.

Today, the tinsel we see if generally made from a film coated with a metallic finish, known as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. Whilst they may not be as heavy, or easy to hang as the older metal tinsel, they come in many colours and sizes and their popularity endures.

tinsel used to be made from silver


Posted December 7th 2016

This week the Home Office have launched a review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, the latest version of which came into place several years ago in October 2013. Any stakeholders have been given until the end of January to submit ideas on possible amendments to the legislation, but what are the current rules surrounding scrap metal?

There have been laws in place governing the use of scrap metal since the Scrap Metal Dealers Act of 1964 was first put in place. These were most recently amended in 2013 when the government made it mandatory for all scrap metal dealers to hold a valid licence, with fines of up to £5,000 put in place for anyone found to be without one. The aim of this was to clamp down on rogue traders and reduce metal theft. Additional powers were also given to local authorities and police to inspect any premises where they suspected illegal activity was being conducted, and to refuse or even revoke licences if necessary.

The 2013 legislation also demanded a list of registered scrap metal dealers be made accessible to the public, and decreed that dealers must in turn verify the name and address of any sellers (information which must then be recorded and kept available).

In their review of this legislation, the Home Office will engage with law enforcement personnel as well as leading industry members to ascertain whether it has benefitted the scrap metal industry and determine what changes may need to be made.

The British Metal Association (BMRA) has welcomed the review, which was originally scheduled to take place in 2018, with their chief executive Robert Fell commenting, ‘As an industry and a country, we cannot afford to be complacent; we need to strengthen the Act and commit specific police funding to enforcement too. The association will be seeking evidence from our members regarding the limitations of the Act to inform our submissions to the Home Office’.


shutterstock_209087275 with questions