A crucible of molten bronze being poured in a ceramic mold

Fire Arts Center of Chicago

Director and instructor, Vincent Hawkins, teaching figure sculpture

The purpose of the Fire Arts Center of Chicago School of Sculpture is to preserve and promote traditional sculpture technique. To achieve this goal, we offer high quality sculpture training.

Technical knowledge and the language of aesthetics has always defined the narrative of art. Thus, a grounding in both of these areas gives each artist the tools to progress their ideas to unmapped areas of meaning. The fine arts have always had a positive synergistic relationship with business, philosophy and science. Our educational program reinforces this view by encouraging technical proficiency and scientific understanding, as well as conceptual and marketing skills at all levels.

Contact the Fire Arts Center if you are interested in the One-Year Intensive Program or have any questions.

Course Duration

Four 12-week sessions (or three 16-week sessions)

Class Operational Costs

$281.25 per semester ($375 per 16 week semester) = $1,125 for the full term (not including material costs and lab fees which will vary depending on the class)

Technical I: Metal Smithing (three 16 week sessions)

Metal Smithing I - Introduction to Metal Smithing

This class will introduce students to a wide range of basic jewelry techniques, including shaping, soldering, stone setting and finishing. Students will learn to design rings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets, and will take these projects from raw materials to finished product.

Metal Smithing II - Creating Volume

This class will cover the many ways of shaping metal into fully three-dimensional forms. We will address traditional techniques like forging, chasing and repoussé, as well as more recent developments like anticlastic raising and fold-forming. Students will be able to use these skills to complete a series of jewelry or small sculpture projects.

Metal Smithing III - Casting

This class will teach several methods of small-scale casting, appropriate for both jewelry and sculpture. We will work our way from cuttle bone casting to lost wax, and learn good mold design, wax modeling and modern reproduction techniques along the way.

Technical II: Metal Furniture

Semester 1 - Metal Furniture Design I - Simple Steel Furniture

The Student project for the semester will be designing and building an end table and a night table. This section will cover reading and drawing up blueprints, basic design elements and systems and basic steel fabrication.

Semester 2 - Metal Furniture Design 2 - Intermediate

During this semester, students will design and build a book shelf, a coffee table or a dining room table. In this section, metallurgy and advanced techniques of tig, mig and arc welding will be covered.

Semester 3 - Metal Furniture Design 3

During this semester, our students will design and build a desk, with at least one drawer, that incorporates at least one non-metallic or exotic element into its design. This section will cover methods of working with multimedia components such as stone and wood in conjunction with metal.

Semester 4 - Metal Furniture Design 4 - Complex Furniture Designs

In this semester, students will create a desk, cabinet or dresser with multiple drawers, and a hinged door that can be easily mass-produced. This section will cover interior design and the manufacture of custom-designed furniture. We will also cover contracts, studio set-up and marketing.

Technical III: Foundry/Mold Making

Semester 1 - Plaster Piece Molding & Rubber Molding

In this semester, students will be required to complete three molds. Students will learn the basics of plaster piece molding and rubber molding . This involves open-face, two-piece, three-piece and mulch-piece brush-and-pour rubber molds.

Semester 2 - Foundry 1 - Wax Working and Burnout

In this semester, students will mold three small projects or one large project for later casting in bronze or aluminum. Students will learn wax chemistry, wax working, wax chasing, ceramic shell, cement shell and classical investment. Students will also learn burnout procedure.

Semester 3 - Foundry 2 - Bronze Casting, Welding, Chasing

In this semester, students will learn how to cast at least three small projects or one large project. Students will learn basic metallurgy and furnace operations (including skimming). Students will also learn DE-vesting and bronze-chasing techniques for bronze castings, and basic surfacing and patination techniques.

Semester 4 - Foundry 3 - Furnace Design and Operation

In this semester, students will cast at least three small projects. Students will learn ferrous metallurgy and crucible steel casting, furnace and kiln design and operation, shell mixing and maintenance, shop design and operation, as well as basic sand casting techniques.

Contact us if you are interested in the One-Year Intensive Program or have any questions.