Glowing red hot like some kind of nuclear tomato soup, it swills around its bucket to be scooped up in a ladle and poured – very carefully - at arm’s length.

The bubbling molten bronze, the laborious process of making moulds and pouring the searing hot liquified metal; the black sand foundry floor and the age-old process barely changed over 4,000 years: they are just the beginning.

Eventually, almost like magic, the blistering hot brew becomes anything from a half-eaten apple to a 19ft tall Robert the Bruce, resplendent on his mount.

(Image: Powderhall Bronze)

Or, perhaps, a classic car complete with motorist in the driving seat, ornate railings on a treasured building, a football hero, potato, cow or just a beautiful object to put in the garden that brings peace and joy.

All cast within Powerhall Bronze foundry in Granton, they are just some of the array of artworks to leave the Edinburgh workshop to become admired features of city streets, positioned in public and private gardens, outside important buildings and stadiums as memorials to people lost and as proud physical reminders of achievements, historic events and celebrations.

(Image: Powderhall Bronze)

“There are not many towns in Britain where we have not done something,” says Kerry Hammond, who with husband Brian Caster is marking 35 years of Powderhall Bronze, one of the UK’s leading fine art foundries.

“We have cast well over 200 tons of bronze,” she adds. “That’s a lot of sculptures.”

Many will recognise their work: thousands, for example, will pass the sculptor Kenny Hunter’s powerful Citizen Firefighter sculpture outside Glasgow’s Central Station every day.

Likewise in Edinburgh, where David Annand’s sculpture of poet Robert Fergusson is captured in permanent purposeful stride outside Edinburgh’s Canongate Church on the Royal Mile – another Powderhall Bronze production.

In Princes Street Gardens is one of the most poignant; Kelpies creator Andy Scott’s baby elephant is seated – like a child’s stuffed toy – in tribute to the tiny souls whose ashes were lost at crematoria in the city, and never returned to their grieving parents.

Kerry Hammond of Powderhall BronzeKerry Hammond of Powderhall Bronze (Image: Powderhall Bronze)

And outside Tannadice, the towering figure of legendary manager Jim McLean, immortalised in bronze and paid for by Dundee United’s fans.

Familiar to many, yet few who pass might pause to consider just how they made the leap from sculptor’s maquette to foundry and, finally, to bronze.

Now the family-run foundry, renowned for casting anything from small gallery pieces that can be held in the palm of a hand to monumental public sculptures, is offering a rare opportunity for the public to venture inside.

Brian Caster of Powderhall Bronze with one of his apple sculpturesBrian Caster of Powderhall Bronze with one of his apple sculptures (Image: Powderhall Bronze)

Over the course of this summer a limited number of tours hosted by founders Kerry and husband Brian Caster will take visitors to Powderhall Bronze on a journey back in time to explore the ancient process they use to create bronze sculptures.

On the way will be a unique insight into some of the foundry’s past and current projects and a glimpse into the private world of high-end bronze art commissions destined for the fabulously rich.

Apart from anything else, it’s a rare chance to see inside one of Scotland’s few remaining working foundries: where once hundreds across Scotland churned out iron and metal creations for home and abroad, now only a handful remain.

(Image: Powderhall Bronze)

And even though health and safety rules mean the usual blistering heat of the foundry furnace and drama of the bubbling cauldrons of molten bronze are out of bounds, the tours will give visitors a flavour of the traditional

lost wax casting process it uses, rarely changed in thousands of years.

“It’s a difficult process to describe – the tours really help people understand it,” adds Kerry.

(Image: Powderhall Bronze)

“It means creating a wax sculpture, putting that in what is a type of mould that can withstand heat and burning away the wax to leave a void where wax was. Then pouring the moulten metal in to fill it up.

“That’s where the ‘lost wax’ comes from, because it’s burned away.”

Castings at the foundry span the simplest of objects – Brian has created his own stunning group of apples, some life-size some much bigger with chunks bitten out to reveal glowing 24 carat gold leaf.

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Others are far more demanding. “Sculptors might need a mould of something that’s been made out of cardboard, or something they found at the Botanics,” adds Kerry.

“The oddest thing was when we cast was a cow that had been taxidermied, and a model TT Ford with a man sitting inside it which was quite complex.”

No two sculptures are the same, and the couple’s art backgrounds – they both trained as sculptors – mean they can work hand in hand with fellow artists, architects and designers to perfect creations.

“We talk in their language,” adds Kerry. “During it, there are opportunities for us to help them tweak it and for us to suggest things.”

(Image: Powderhall Bronze)

Founded in 1989, Powderhall Bronze was the result of their shared passion for sculpture and understanding of the complex processes that go into making them.

They were studying at the Royal College of Art and working in some of London’s busy art foundries when they saw a gap in the market in Scotland.

Their first foundry was a small former bakery off Broughton Road in the city’s Powderhall area, which gave the foundry its name.

Up an alley and behind the dog track, it started with just them. Today the foundry employs 23 people including welders, stonemasons and metalworkers.

Kerry Hammond's sculpture featured at the recent Chelsea Flower ShowKerry Hammond's sculpture featured at the recent Chelsea Flower Show (Image: Powderhall Bronze)

A first client was renowned sculptor Vincent Butler, who worked from a studio in Stockbridge and taught life-modelling and bronze casting at Edinburgh College of Art.

Soon Powderhall Bronze was attracting commissions, working hand in hand with sculptors and moving to larger premises.

No longer in the Powderhall area, the name with its historic roots, stuck.

“A blacksmith near the dog track was a local historian who told us Powderhall was once a large house with grounds, and the first site north of the Tweed to be granted a licence to produce gunpowder in the 17th century.

“It makes you think of heat and fire and flame and everything you associate with foundries.”

There are more than 70 projects currently on its books, among them high end commissions destined for clients in the Middle East, Germany and New York.

(Image: Powderhall Bronze)

While its back catalogue includes notable works such as ‘Really Good’ by David Shrigley, which was sited on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and ‘Your next breath’ by Kenny Hunter, which stands outside Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons.

Some jobs, adds Kerry, can be more unusual than others. The foundry has been called on in the past to cast a potato for a sculpture destined for Normandy, and another of a woman potato picking for a Jersey potato producer.

As well as working with individual sculptors, the foundry has worked with heritage organisations carrying out repairs and creating ornate railings at places like the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scott Monument in Edinburgh.

And the couple produce their own contemporary cast bronze sculptures inspired by natural forms, shown at the family run gallery, Powderhall Bronze Editions on Summer Place in Edinburgh.

Kerry recently took Powderhall Bronze to the Chelsea Flower Show for the fourth year, this time showing one of her own creations, Mandala, a garden sculpture of large bronze rings and spheres large enough to walk through.

(Image: Powderhall Bronze)

“Bronze is a lovely material, it brings out the best in sculpture and is timeless,” she adds.

“It’s quite a long process, it’s very hands on and we don’t have a huge amount of machinery to help us.

“We’ve loved setting up the business and seeing it grow.”

The tours are available in August and can be booked via the Powderhall Bronze Editions website at