In an earlier post I showcased some of my work in my intro to silversmithing class. Well, it’s time for an update!
I took a second class at the studio called lost wax casting.
The way it works is, you get hunks of hard wax and use little files and gouging tools to shape the object that you want. You can make really awesome 3D pieces with this, and any type of jewellery (rings, earrings, necklaces, etc.).
You carve the wax exactly how you want it, because every single detail including mistakes! is going to be cast in silver later.
Once you’re happy with your piece, you attach it to a “button” of extra wax on the bottom of a flask. It sticks up in the air and looks like a lollipop! This is then sealed in a cylinder called a flask, and filled with a plaster substance. The wax melts out in a kiln leaving a perfect impression, a mold behind.
Next you melt your silver down in a crucible with your torch, then pour it into the mold you created over a special vacuum. After it cools a little you get to do the really cool *pshhhhh!* quench in the water!
Then you have to finish your piece. It’s usually ugly and covered in black tarnish, casting skin, and sometimes firescale if something went funny in the casting process. I had all of the above on my pieces.
I cut the pieces off the button, then filed and polished all the crappy bits away. For the two skull pendants I made for me and my brother; I used a oxidizing acid in the recessed areas to darken the silver permanently for effect.
Check it out!:
I carved each of those skulls individually, and boy! was it hard! It’s very difficult to work in 3D like that for me. There is no adding, only subtracting. If you slip up or go too deep, that’s it, your piece is garbage. I think with practice it would become easier to do, but I found it very challenging this first time around!
I did a super-high polish and if you look close enough you can see my hands and the camera reflected in the silver!
So those three pieces conclude my foray into the world of silversmithing for the moment. I’ve signed myself up for a clay silkscreening class that starts in April that I’m totally stoked about. I will probably go back and take the next level of silversmithing at a later date because right now I’m just tired of inhaling silverdust all the time! hehehe
…So, did any of you take my advice and find something fun and creative to do during the dull doldrums of winter??