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Mariposa Brillante – Sand Cast Aluminum Serve-Ware
Mariposa Brillante includes a large array of server ware collections with a wide range of themes and moods. Some pieces are heavily textured and finely detailed while some have sleek design and naked surfaces.
The sand casting process begin with the creation of a new
piece up in MA, where Mariposa designer Michael Updike sculptures the piece in
clay then casts it in dental plaster. This piece is taken to Mexico to Mariposa
workshop, where artisans are making a perfect copy from which a single metal
mold is made. This mold fits between two large boxes that get filled with fine
sand that holds a precise shape when pounded tight. Once sand envelops the
design, the artisans lift off the top box and pull out the mold, leaving a
perfect empty space.
Tubes are then pushed through the sand to make
flow channels to the design cavity. One channel is for the molten aluminum; the
others are to allow excess metal out. (On the underside of a Mariposa piece, you
might spot the tiny mark of a channel.) When the boxes get joined tight again,
the sand around the design cavity mustn’t budge even microscopically. Once the
molten aluminum reaches 1300 degrees, the artisans pour it down a flow channel
until the cavity’s full. They stand on the box to keep it tight; the aluminum
cools to a solid in 10 minutes. When they break open the box, sand spills all
over. The sand’s shoveled up and reused, someone fetches the mold, and the
process starts again. Polishers go to work on the new piece with grinding and
buffing wheels — and a washing machine they call la vibradora — to
exact a perfect high gloss. A team of eagle-eyed women makes sure the men have
gotten every detail right. Each piece takes over an hour, and gets made one at a
time. If you want to push the limits of what can be shaped in aluminum,
there’s simply no other way.