Artist creates out of this world sculptures from meteorites

LEADING British artist, Alexander De Cadenet has produced highly sought-after sculptures made from meteorites with the help of Sheffield-based Castings Technology International (Cti).

The company, based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe supplies the high value manufacturing sector with various metal castings and specialises in helping foundries solve problems and improve production.

Cti have helped a number of artists with challenging projects, including London-based Alexander de Cadenet, whose works predominately consist of paintings, photography and sculptures.

For his latest project, De Cadenet has been using meteoric iron to create various sculptures from apples to snakes. The age and origins of the metal is what first attracted De Cadenet to using meteorites for his works of art.

“The metal has great significance and gives a perspective on life,” added De Cadenet.

He said: “It’s a profound material, but it has properties that make it difficult to cast. I approached a number of foundries, but the only people able and willing to take up the challenge were at Cti.”

The metal is roughly 6% nickel, balanced by iron, has a low carbon content and a very high sulphur content, making the molten metal extremely difficult to pour.

Technology development manager at Cti Will Jeffs said: “Alex was very keen that we don’t alter the composition of the metal, so we had to design a special deoxidisation process and dribble liquid argon to create a protective bath of inert gas.

“The sulphur can make the metal brittle and difficult to work with, so we have to take measures to overcome that, too, while retaining the fine detail.”

To make the sculptures, Cti combined the ancient lost wax process and its Replicast technology to make a ceramic mould into which the molten meteorite was poured.

“Alex normally supplies a wax pattern for the sculpture and we design the delivery and feeding system which we machine from polystyrene,” added Cti’s Jim Collins, who was responsible for casting the most challenging piece yet – a snake, poised to strike.

However for this sculpture, De Cadenet was determined to instead use a taxidermied snake for the pattern on the shell, creating what De Cadenet would describe as a “physical link between the animal and the sculpture.”

Mr Collins said: “We created the snake assembly, put ceramic around it and then put it in a furnace to fire the mould and create the cavity for the metal. It came out very well and the resulting casting retained the snake’s features and pose.”

meteorite art