Destination Lost Pines
Bastrop's Deep in the Heart Art Foundry, where world-class bronze sculptures are cast
Perhaps you’ve seen the giant Aggie Ring on the Texas A&M campus where new Aggie graduates have made it a custom to take photos wearing their regular-sized ring, or visited its cousin on the Texas Tech campus. Maybe you’ve been to the new Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels, and you’ve posed with the road trip super store’s jovial beaver cast in bronze.
These are all pieces that originated at the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry, located in a Bastrop office park complex just a few miles south of Highway 71. The complex includes a gallery in which visitors can view and purchase works of art and the foundry offers appointment-only public tours that show the process of making bronze sculptures of wildly varying sizes and styles.
Outside the foundry’s front doors, an ambitious piece involving horses and old-time automobiles is being assembled — it will eventually be shipped to Tulsa to function as a monument along historic Route 66. A giant longhorn sculpture sits at the entrance to the complex as a not-so-subtle reminder of what part of the world we’re in.
According to Ashley Leer, executive assistant at Deep in the Heart, the foundry works with more than 160 artists, functioning like a publishing house for sculptors. Artists bring sculptures to Deep in the Heart and the foundry works with them to cast their creations into bronze. While some artists create actual-size sculptures, some of the more large-scale pieces go through a process by which the sculpture is digitally mapped, individual pieces are created, and then those pieces are fitted together like a giant puzzle into the finished bronze piece.
A giant longhorn sculpture sits at the entrance to the complex as a not-so-subtle reminder of what part of the world we’re in.
If you’re particularly interested in seeing the pouring phase of the process, in which glowing orange liquefied bronze is poured over a mold by foundry workers in protective silver suits, it’s best to schedule a tour fairly early in the day, especially during the hotter stretches of the year, for reasons that should be self-evident.
Even if you miss the spectacle of a pouring, you can still get a full understanding of the lost wax process: The tour walks through the steps required, from original sculpture to mold to waxing, casting, and the finishing patina and mounting.
The gallery is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Tours of the foundry are $10 per person and available by appointment only; to make arrangements, call 512-321-7868. For more information, including photos of completed works and works in progress, visit deepintheheart.net.