There is no accurate record of when the lost wax method of casting was first utilized.
It is believed the earliest users of the lost wax method began with a clay core roughly the shape of the subject to be sculpted. This core was covered with wax, and then sculpted to the finished form. Once the wax hardened it was covered with clay. The object was baked, hardening the clay and melting the wax. Because the wax method melted out the bottom of the baking receptacle or oven, it was unusable or lost – hence the process is called “Lost Wax”. The space evacuated by the wax was then filled with molten bronze. Once the bronze cooled and hardened, the clay was removed and the remaining bronze – cleaned and polished.
Other names for the process include “lost mould,” which recognizes that other materials besides wax can be used, including but not limited to: tallow, resin, tar, and textile; and “waste wax process” or “waste mould casting”, because the mould is destroyed to unveil the cast item.
Casts can be made of the wax model itself, the direct method; or of a wax copy of a model that need not be of wax.
Archaeologists have found castings – thousands of years old. The basic principle of the process has remained unchanged, although many new techniques have been developed. The most significant of which was the use of molds from which many waxes could be made and the ceramic shell process gave a high quality casting.