Relief casting – using recycled aluminium with Stephen Coles

Ref: S1D31657

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About this course

Explore the exciting world of metal casting with the rich textures of relief sculpture. You will create relief works, using contemporary techniques. These pieces will be cast during the session using high quality recycled aluminium.

Course Description

A perfect introduction to exploring the rich visual language of three-dimensional sculpture. Working with negative and positive space, you will learn techniques for translating your drawings and ideas into a three-dimensional relief sculpture. The course will provide an overview of basic techniques, such as drawing and carving. You will also discuss design properties and technical considerations relevant to the process.

You will use contemporary materials and techniques, including an emphasis on lower impact material choices, metal recycling and minimising the environmental impacts of producing cast work.

You will carve bonded sand blocks to produce a negative mould. Completed moulds will then be filled with molten recycled aluminium that has been melted with an oil fired furnace (using recycled cooking oil). After the moulds have been cast, we will discuss fettling, dressing and finishing the pieces.

You can expect to explore a range of sculptural processes, such as carving, drawing and utilising texture and light, as well as how to consider forms as both negative and positive space and other design principles. We will also delve into the basics of how metal casting works, as well as some simple metallurgy and the tools used in mould making and metal casting.

This course is suitable for beginners through to established artists. It is recommended for anyone who is interested in picking up new skills related to sculptural practice, such as mould making, casting and metal working.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials


  • On this course, the tutor will supply all of the materials, including sand moulds and aluminium metal for you to work with.

What students need to bring

  • You should bring an apron or coveralls, or wear clothes you don’t mind getting grubby. Prior to the class, you should consider the forms or designs you would like to carve into your relief mould and bring along any sketches or images that may be helpful for reference and discussion at the start of the session.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art and craft materials

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes). Possible equipment restrictions in tutor absence.


Stephen Coles

Stephen Coles studied at Carmarthen School of the Arts, before completing a master’s degree in sculpture at Alfred University, New York. After teaching there, he returned to the UK to begin his own foundry practice. In addition to teaching at institutions throughout the UK and Europe, Stephen works with artists, museums and conservationists creating bespoke works in metal.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

Interested in a career in metalwork?

Our Foundation Degree in Metalwork will enhance your employment prospects, give you the skills to set up as a self-employed craftsperson or allow you to continue to higher education. Encompassing both silversmithing and blacksmithing, you will learn practical skills, material properties, placing your work in a broader context and historic metalworking techniques. Find out more