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Author Topic: Wax carving for silver casting  (Read 6268 times)
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Pam
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« on: December 20, 2007, 03:01:16 AM »

Does anyone have any experience of wax carving (equipment, tools and type of wax etc) for making silver casting. I am interested in producing some cast silver findings in the new year but don't know where to start. I have been on cooksons website and I get the idea but like anything when starting off if you are not careful you end up with tools etc that are rerely used (if ever) and some tools you can't work without.
Anyone with any experience or advise please  Smiley Or recommended reading.
Thanks
Pam
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GlassOcean
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2007, 03:23:40 AM »

Hi Pam,

I bought a jewellery making business a couple of years ago when I was made redundant but have never got round to learning how to use any of it!!  I will one day!!

I bought some carving wax blocks from Cooksons and the dentist tools you can usually pick up at your local market.  If you go into mold making you can buy wax chips for injecting into the molds.  This is all theory though I have never tried it!

My New Years Resolution is to get using it all!

KJ
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TheJanie
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2007, 03:28:02 AM »

Hi Pam,

Whilst I'm hardly an expert at this (4 cast items to date, over 2 years ago!) I hope can help a little here...

For carving the actual wax, you *can* get wax carving tools - a little like the dentist's tools that you can also use for lampwork.  However, for basic carving, you need little more than a sharp knife.  I had a set of knives and blades that I bought on eBay for paper crafts which worked beautifully.

You'll have already seen the various types of wax on Cookson - I found as a beginner that the blue wax was a good one to start with.  I have some wax ring tubes still to use up - if you'd like a couple of practice pieces, let me know and I'll pop them in an envelope to you...

My first carving was a ring that was shaping up to become very bulky, so my tutor suggested I whittled away at the inside.  For this, I used my Dremel with a flexshaft (the flexshaft isn't vital but makes things a bit easier) and a bit that I can't for the life of me remember the name of!  You can find it at http://tinyurl.com/2d4fdu

I found the whole carving process a wonderfully relaxing thing... you'd be amazed how quickly time passes when you're doing it... a bit like making beads Wink

Hope this helps...

Cheers,

Janie
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Shirley
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2007, 03:37:30 AM »

I know nothing about wax carving, but I do remember an ex-colleague who made cast pewter jewellery. He used to carve a cuttlefish as his mould.
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Val Cox Frit - Thai and Bali Silver 
sparrow
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2007, 03:45:19 AM »

Hi Pam,

same as Janie, I've done a few as part of my silversmithing course - from my experience, it depends what you want to do. Green wax is the hardest, I think, and really simple to carve. I bought some modeller's tools on ebay, and we had a lamp that burnt soot-free to heat the tools - it was amazing what detail you could get. I think the pink wax (but not sure here) is the most pliable, you could almost heat it in your hands.

Could I ask out of interest why you don't want to go down the PMC route? I've never done that, but it seems a lot easier?

Sabine
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Marionbead
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2007, 04:07:57 AM »

Hi Pam

I just posted a long reply but it disappeared so here goes again (shorter this time).

Best and cheapest tools are dental probes available from www.proopsbrothers.com and an oil burner to heat the tools and for wax build up (not sure where I got my burner from but they are widely available).

Pink flat dental wax is the softest wax to work with but you can get much harder waxes in blocks or preformed into tubes etc.

I bought a battery operated wax cutting pen which I think was a waste of money for modelling but is useful if you are doing your own casting and need to mount your items on wax sprues.

You could also try modelling in another modelling medium such as Sculpey which has different properties to work with or obviously PMC (but you need to work much more quickly with this).  Wax and Sculpey give you the time to keep going back and refining what you've done.

Hope this is useful
Marion
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Pam
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2007, 04:33:05 AM »

Wow girls you have been really helpful. I was thinking blue wax for carving and maybe pink wax or some other ideas I have (guessing its a bit like play dough-can't spell plastacene!!!!) I am not wanting to use PMC as I am after a really high gloss finish with no imperfection,  a classic look rather than contemporary ifyou get my drift. I was also thinking about production rather than one off's as they are findings rather than focal pieces.
I'm just off to search ebay and some of the other sites mentioned. I'm sure I will be back with more questions if thats ok?
Thanks you kindly
Pam
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LittleHen
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2007, 06:58:20 AM »

I made my wedding rings thisway.  remember what you see in the wax is what you get in silver.  I made the mistake of sending off very rough wax and received very rough silver.  I sent mine off the palmes, I think the most expensive thing was the postage.  you can also send off other objects such as buttons for the casting, give them a ring I'm sure they'd be happy to help,
jessie
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sparrow
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2007, 01:21:12 PM »

Oh, oh, where did you send it? I'd love to do some more, but because I did my own, I'm totally stumped since my silversmithing class finished..
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silverlemon
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2007, 04:44:11 PM »

Hi Pam, what an exciting project.

If you want to go into production of some findings you don't necessarily need to make the waxes.
You could try contacting a casting company, and chat to them about what you want to achieve.
I know that if you send an actual part for casting, then they will make a mould, which will be for your use only, and will generate the waxes ready for casting, then sprue up and do the complete job for you.

You can send waxes but they don't guarantee the finished quality.

Doing your own castings from scratch is very time consuming, I used to do loads and soon left it when I discovered beadmaking. I'm into instant gratification me!
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Bionic Sarah xxx    Sarah Downton On Facebook  My Etsy Shop
DI
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2007, 05:03:26 PM »

I agree with Sarah - used to do it for a living! No point wasting time doing your own casting when it's so cheap to get it done. I made all my originals out of silver as it's much easier to fine tune and polish especially on small fiddly things. The better the finish on the original the better the casting although you will still have to do a lot of polishing. There are people out there who will do that for you too. I doubt if the actual people I used to use are still around but there's bound to be some in the jewellery quarter in Brum or Hatton Garden in London. Castings are a bit porous by their very nature so won't get as good a finish as worked metal but if you get a good caster they will be a whole lot better than you can do yourself (they use pressure and blanket gasses etc.)Wink
Di
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Pam
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2007, 04:44:14 AM »

Girls, girls, girls you are full of great experience and knowledge, I thank you so much. Will probably take up Sarah and Di's advice as my love is bead making and the silver work is "just" for the jewellery making to get unique jewellery.
Thanks again everyone who contributed.
Pam
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LittleHen
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2008, 10:17:01 AM »

Oh, oh, where did you send it? I'd love to do some more, but because I did my own, I'm totally stumped since my silversmithing class finished..

Palmers metals I seem to remember, the most expensive thing was the postage and casting charges the silver cost was very cheap, I think mine and my husbands wedding rings were about 2.50 in silver!!
Best of luck and please show some results...

I must say I didn't enjoy it enough to do anymore.

Jessie Wink
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turnedlight
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« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2008, 10:38:31 AM »

I buy from them a lot - I didn't know they cast things! You just send a wax positive off?!
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kathryn
LittleHen
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2008, 10:44:04 AM »

I buy from them a lot - I didn't know they cast things! You just send a wax positive off?!
I'd give them a call first it was about 5 years or so ago but I'm sure they'll still do it.
They were very friendly when I sent them my poor efforts for castings, with hours of filing they turned into something OK but WYSIWYG!!
Jessie  Wink
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