This was one of the first few attempts at casting ant colonies. I was surprised that so much aluminum flowed in given the small surface mound
(6" diameter, 3.5" in height) and expected a much smaller cast. It's difficult to capture the above ground portion of the fire ant colonies and this is one of the most complete ones I have done. There's a long foraging tunnel
on the left side which was cast nicely and sticks out about 5" from the main part of the colony just below the ground surface. The colony below ground was narrowly confined to the area under the surface mound, with disordered tunnels
closer to the surface with wide flat chambers
deeper in the colony. There were at least two large roots going through the colony, resulting in hollow tubes where you can see right through the cast (pictures here
). It's interesting to see how their tunnels wrapped around the roots they encountered. The aluminum is a little duller than the later casts and there are some rough spots where tunnels weren't completely filled (hollow spot slightly upper left of center in this picture
, uncompleted tunnels at the upper left of this picture
) but overall it is a great looking cast.
*The tunnel and chamber that you can see at the bottom right of this picture
is slightly bent and could possibly break off.
This is the rare cast that is mounted right side up and you can see that it makes the mounting much more difficult. The back and bottom of the stand is made of 3/4" thick oak boards which are stained with Danish oil. The smaller supports are 1x1" square. I didn't note the wood type of those supports when I built it but I believe it's poplar. I didn't think about it until it was too late but the grain of the small supports doesn't match the oak, but it looks great to me. The cast contacts the stand in three places for support (left
), with small paint marks on the bottom of the cast to mark the contact points. Felt pads on the contact points protect the wood. The stand is put together with screws and glue and is very sturdy. One of the down sides to mounting casts in their natural orientation is that there is usually an irregular area
on the top of the casts, resulting from pouring in the aluminum, which is more visible in upright-mounted casts.
The weight of the stand is 4.7 lb.