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Fonderie TEP: Forging Metal to Create Sculpture Art in Athens

The largest art foundry in Greece is a magical haven of creation.

Fonderie TEP is an Athens art-world insider’s secret (no more) where the multidimensional world of sculpture reigns. One enters the foundry through a set of imposing black metal gates that open like a welcoming embrace into a world apart. There are magnificent and enormous bronze sculptures strewn haphazardly around the central building, and visitors are greeted by the owner, the admired and vastly experienced Theodoros Papadopoulos. Since 1978, he has championed the dreams of artists who want to cast their works in his foundry as well as servicing a demanding international list of clients in search of special works of art.

In the words of the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, “Bronze is the mirror of form, wine of the heart.” In this environment, bronze is just that, the thing that brings joy and is revered. At the Fonderie TEP, tucked away discreetly in the suburb of Geraka, sculptures made in other mediums are turned into spectacular bronze pieces. In what is now an ultra-modern foundry, the ancient art of casting bronze sculptures has been perfected and modernized.

The work is executed by a team of highly trained professionals who take on each project in a very regimented step-by-step process based on the ancient technique called “cire perdue”, meaning literally “lost wax” in French. In brief, a plaster mold is made around an existing sculpture, then a hollow wax model is made and wax “ducts” are set in place so the metal may be poured inside, then the wax model is covered with a layer of clay that is placed in a kiln, where the wax will melt. At this crucial point, the sculpture must be treated with heated air so it doesn’t crack. One of the most exciting points in the process is when the metal is heated up to become liquid. Once the wax melts, the mold is removed from the oven and tightened with steel bands and liquid bronze is poured in the place of the melted wax. Then the cast mold is broken to reveal the bronze sculpture. FonderieTEP uses [Silicon Bronze], which yields superb results, followed by expert welding that leaves no visible marks. The same alloy is used to ensure the smooth and flawless surface. Finally, the art is worked on in a process called “ciselure” and a patina is placed on the object.

Theodoros Papdopoulos has acquired such a vast knowledge of sculpture that his lifelong passion has led him to expand into the formation of a depot of art that may be visited at the Foundry but also at his art gallery in Kolonaki named the P Gallery. With devotion and endless knowledge of sculpture, their work has expanded into the use of sculpture “designs” by well-known artists such as Philolaos, Coulentianos, Gabriella Simossi etc. These striking and recognizable forms have been incorporated into a superbly original fashion line of dresses and shoes. The Fonderie TEP is a place that shines as an example of avant-garde thinking where quality, fine art and even fashion all convene into a remarkable example of cultural appreciation.

—Joanna Papadopoulos Averoff

Directed by Mihalis Dimitriou

Mihalis Dimitriou holds a dual US and Greek nationality. He has received a master’s degree with a specialization in acting and directing, and Magister Artium in theatrical studies from the Open University of Cyprus where he graduated with honors in 2019. He received a B.A. in film studies from the University of Greenwich, also with honors, as well as a Certificate in Film & Television Studies from New York College, Athens Campus.

He is involved in the development and production of films, documentaries, TV series, commercials, and music videos. In 2019, he wrote, directed, and co-produced with the Greek Film Centre (GFC) the short film “Cloud” which won the first audience award at the Micro μ Festival (IMμF), was presented at the 42nd Short Film Festival, the 25th International Short Film Festival in Drama in September 2019, the “Athens International Film Festival”, and won the Cinematic Achievement from Thess International Short Film Festival.

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