- Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Curious Cases – Steel & Ferrous Metal
- How It Works – Lost Wax Casting for Walter Bosse
- Hertha Baller vs Herta Baller? Lets Clear Things Up…
- Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Part 3 – All the Hedgehogs!
- Walter Bosse Figurines: “Baroque” Series
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Tag Archives: Austria
Let’s dive into a little bit about the handmade casting process to understand a little more about what makes Walter Bosse and Vienna Bronze items special. The casting process used is “lost wax casting” or “investment casting.” Here all the steps and love that go into the creation of a Walter Bosse model:
1. Starting with a “master”
The process begins with the artist’s “master” pattern. There are several ways to make a master: A. directly from wax to mold; B. from wax to cast metal to mold; and C. from mold to master to secondary mold.
A. If we create a master out of wax and form a mold from it directly, the wax master could be melted down or damaged in the process. With this method, the master may be lost, along with the ability to create future molds from it. But at least we have one mold for the catalog.
B. Walter Bosse’s most common method of making a master was to sculpt the wax model by hand, create a metal cast from it, refine the metal model into a finished master, and then create a new mold. This way, the metal master is saved in order to continue making future molds. This is especially useful if the original molds get damaged or need to be replaced due to use over time.
C. If the master has been lost, but the mold is still available, we can cast from the existing mold, finish the model and save it for future mold making. The only downside is that there is about 1.5–2% shrinkage. (The general shrinkage allowance of brass is 3/16″ per foot.) We would not want to keep doing this over and over again, or the model’s size will continue to shrink with each new iteration. It’s good to keep a master with each mold if possible.
2. Making a mold
Rubber molds are preferred due to their longer shelf life. The creation of a rubber mold requires a vulcanizing press, which solidifies the shape using heat and pressure. Since quite a few of the original masters were lost, today remastering is often done with vintage Bosse pieces. In these cases, the vulcanizing process is less suitable, as the heat and pressure can be rough on vintage originals. Silicone molds are therefore used to preserve the quality of the vintage original (though the silicone molds do not tend to last as long). The vulcanized rubber molds end up lasting 10–20 years with regular use, while silicone can last only 2–5 years.
It is necessary to cut a sprue hole in the mold, preferably somewhere inconspicuous on the model, running from the widest or thickest part to the thinnest part. This will be the path the wax/metal flows most easily into the mold. The master must then be cut from the mold, either by prying the mold open enough to remove the master, or cutting it in half entirely to make a two-part mold. It is best to cut the mold with a very sharp blade, such as a scalpel.
Molten wax is injected into the mold through the sprue hole. The wax model is then removed from the mold. An extended sprue is attached, which is then connected to a sprue base/post which makes up the center of the wax tree. We add as many wax models to the tree as possible to fill up all the available casting space.
4. Adding investment
Once the wax tree is full of models and ready to cast, it’s time to add the investment. The investment is what’s left when all the wax is burned out, leaving space for molten brass to be poured in. The flask/cuvette is placed around the tree. The investment medium, usually a type of plaster material, is mixed and added around the wax tree inside the flask. All of the bubbles must be sucked out, best performed with a vacuum or vibration method. Once the investment is cured, we are ready to burn out the wax.
The molten brass is poured, and begins to cure. Once the metal has cooled, the tree and investment material are removed from the flask. The investment is slowly and carefully broken away from the brass models. Once the models are fully cleaned of investment, they can now be snipped off the tree, ready for finishing.
The models get a thorough grinding and polishing to ensure there are no flaws. They are then stamped on the bottom with “Bosse Austria,” and undergo the patented patina process. The model then goes through a second polishing in selected areas to highlight the gleaming beauty of the natural brass.
With finishing complete, a beautiful new Walter Bosse work of art emerges, ready to find a home!
We recently acquired a selection of vintage new-old-stock items cast in the 1960s in Germany and are now releasing them for wholesale. Due to the vintage sand-casting and hand-finishing methods, every item is slightly different. Quantities are limited so once they sell out, they are gone! Stock sheet available by request, just drop us a line!
Check out the collection below:
We are excited to introduce a small collection of Walter Bosse necklaces in our Etsy shop. Each pendant is attached to black plated chain with lobster clasp closure, or adjustable-length waxed black cotton cord. Custom chain lengths are also available! Comes wrapped in a black velvet embossed bag with gold Certificate of Authenticity. More pictures of them below!
And now, proudly reintroducing Walter Bosse’s legendary nesting hedgehog ashtrays. Modern Vienna Bronze has released a limited edition of 20 sets of Walter Bosse’s iconic six nesting hedgehog ashtrays, with handmade wooden crates and letterpress-printed certificates of authenticity. These famous nesting creatures have not been available since the 1960s, and now is your chance to own them in brand new condition, straight from Bosse’s original master molds.
This limited edition batch will be available exclusively through Fab.com, along with corkscrews and a selection of miniatures starting today. Quantities are extremely limited, so get them while they are still available!
A little bit about the process: Each box is a custom made sliding lid wine box made of solid pine. We fitted the lid with some extra support struts and hand painted the sides in matte black. The art was done with custom hand-cut Walter Bosse stencils. We think they came out pretty nicely!
Enjoy the gratuitous macro shots!
Next up, we thought we’d share some up close and personal photos of the letterpress Certificate of Authenticity cards we produced specially for the upcoming sale.
A little bit about the process: Each card was hand printed with a Heidelberg Windmill on duplexed Eames solar white paper. The back was printed knockout in black and the front was printed with black and gold ink. The gold ink on the logo was then brushed with metallic gold dust, brushed with a feather an left to dry. The result gives it a unique textured metallic finish. Definitely a labor of love but we think it was worth it!
Enjoy more gratuitous macro shots!
Many thanks to Jean from NOTCOT for posting the video of our new Hedgehogs!
Proudly reintroducing Walter Bosse’s legendary nesting hedgehog ashtrays.
Modern Vienna Bronze has released a limited edition of 20 sets of Walter Bosse’s iconic six nesting hedgehog ashtrays, with handmade wooden crates and letterpress-printed certificates of authenticity. These famous nesting creatures have not been available since the 1960s, and now is your chance to own them in brand new condition, straight from Bosse's original master molds.
Check out our little promotional video of the hedgehogs in motion:
Each set comes packed in a custom, solid wooden crate, nestled in shredded paper bedding. The boxes are topped with a sliding slatted wooden lid, and decorated with hand painted hedgehog silhouette and Walter Bosse graphics on the sides. The certificates of authenticity have been masterfully letterpress printed, with hand-applied gold dust on the logo.
Where can I get my Walter Bosse hedgehog set?
IN OUR SHOP
This limited edition batch is available through the Modern Vienna Bronze shop. Quantities are extremely limited, so get them while they are still available!
A note on history and authenticity
In 1952, Walter Bosse moved from Austria, his home since 1904, to Iserlohn in Western Germany. During this period spent in Germany, Bosse was prolific. Myriad new creations were produced, and in the late 1950s, the hedgehog ashtray was born. The revolutionary new design was immediately successful, and Bosse was not able to keep up with demand on his own. He sought partnerships with larger foundries, but his business relationships were fraught with trouble. Some of his suppliers would use his molds without authorization, casting additional models to be sold from underneath him. Others simply created their own facsimiles (with varying degrees of allegiance to the originals). Even the Soviet airline Aeroflot produced their own unauthorized sets as promotional gifts for frequent flyers. Thousands of copycat hedgehog ashtrays flooded the market, with examples identified from Spain, Greece, England, Germany, and Austria. Many of these vintage forgeries are being sold online today using Walter Bosse’s name. Bosse persevered despite the difficulty he had in protecting his work, and continued to sell his own sets. At one point, Woolworths offered Bosse millions in exchange for the right to produce the hedgehogs in mass quantities, but Bosse refused, recognizing that mass production on such a scale would necessarily impact the quality and craftsmanship of the merchandise, and ultimately hurt his name.
Bosse fought hard against the counterfeiters, making tremendous personal sacrifices to protect the integrity of his work and his name. His legal battles set precedents in the protection of copyright and intellectual property for creative artists. We look at this new generation of hedgehogs as an opportunity to honor Bosse’s work and legacy, adhering to the same high standards of materials and workmanship to which he devoted his life.
How to identify a real set of Bosse hedgehogs
Here are some of the characteristics that help to indicate the differences between an original Bosse hedgehog ashtray set and a reproduction:
- Bosse’s set of hedgehog ashtrays consists of six individual parts.
- The length of the largest hedgehog is about 115mm.
- Bosse’s hedgehogs were cast only in brass.
- Bosse originals were polished and patinated in a manner consistent with those shown in our photographs.
- The eyes of the hedgehogs are small, concave indentations; many fakes and forgeries feature protruding, convex eyeballs.
- Many fakes include textured fur on the sides of the hedgehogs; this is incorrect and indicates a copy. The surfaces of original Walter Bosse hedgehog ashtrays are smooth.
As an additional mark of authenticity, our reintroduced Bosse hedgehog ashtrays are marked with “Bosse Austria” on the underside of the largest hedgehog between the front legs.
We are proud to be able to give Walter Bosse collectors worldwide a new chance to own the design that best represents his life’s accomplishments.
More information on spotting the differences between original Walter Bosse hedgehogs and fakes can be found here.