January 2, 2012

Lost Wax Casted Ring

 I think that it is slightly ironic that our first post is not actually something that either Rachel or I made. The technique is Rachel's specialty, but the execution is her brother and my husband, David's. However, he is gracious enough to let us show case his idea and work. So here goes our first post...

The workspace: I (Rachel) was actually passed down a desk from David.  It has since become a full-time silversmithing desk and a full-time mess.  Propane torches, pliers, charcoal blocks, and metal are just a few of the items that inhabit this area.

Wax casting elements: Lost wax casting is a technique that, in theory, is relatively simple.  One carves something out of wax, in this case, David carved a plain band, and made a mold of it using plaster.  I have respect for anyone with the patience to carve unique pieces out of wax.  It is a skill I have yet to master. I'd much rather saw, solder, and file silver. Anyway, I digress.  Once the wax piece is finished, a wax rod is melted to the bottom of the piece to make a tunnel for the metal to flow into.  The piece is then set in a metal tube (as pictured), plaster is poured on the top, the plaster sets, and then you burn out the wax.  Once the wax is completely burned away, a vacuum pump is hooked up to the underneath side of the porous plaster, silver is melted in a crucible (also pictured), and poured into the mold. And boom! Lost wax casted jewelry.

The design: David drew the following picture after a plain band had been casted, cooled, and sized. Next he had to implement his design through soldering.

In these next two pictures, David is soldering (I taught him :) ) different design elements (leaves and vines) to the plain, casted band.  Silver soldering is different than normal soldering in that, you use a propane torch, silver solder, pickle, and flux to solder pieces together.  The flame has to be constantly moving so you don't melt things on accident.

David gave me a stand with little clippies! It should make holding things into place while soldering much simpler.  

Almost done! Time to tumble the ring (shine and harden), antique, and polish!

The Final Product: A lost wax casted ring with leaves and vines and a little baby accent pearl!  A ring all for Nicole made by David all by himself.

It was a lot of fun and I enjoy being able to teach and share my skills with my brother. I hope you enjoyed a little insight into Lost Wax casting!  

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