Thursday, October 6, 2005

Jewelry Casting Class

Just got out of my first jewelry casting class at the UU. It's a six-week class, each class lasting two hours. Included in the $40 class fee is an unlimited quarter pass, so I can go use the Craft Center any time I want to work on my casting projects. Considering that the quarter pass normally costs $20, I'm only paying the teacher $20 for the instruction. Good deal, y'ask me.

We're doing a variant of the lost wax technique, where we create what we want our final object to look like in wax first. Then, that wax model is put into a container, ceramic clay "investment" is poured around it, and the whole thing goes in a kiln to burn out the wax inside. A negative image of the object is left in the clay, which is then put through a centrifuge to push the molten metal into said negative. For this class, we have our choice of bronze (included in the price of the class), silver (purchased by the ounce), or copper (if we can find any).

Today we learned the general process involved, then the instructor (a Cal Poly student named Ellie) turned us loose on some soft wax. The point of today was to just play around with the wax and get used to using the tools. (Apparently casting technique follows, but lags behind, dentistry, of all things. They had a bunch of dentist cleaning tools, and even a mirror — in case our wax models have cavities, I guess. ;)) They also have harder wax already hollowed out circularly, meant for making rings. That seems to be the most popular type of project people make via casting in the Craft Center. But since soft wax is less regular than the hollowed out hard wax, Ellie recommended we make something less exact, like a pendant or such.

I attempted a little tree scuplture. I really wish I had a cameraphone! I got as far as making the positive wax model of the tree, which is maybe two inches tall. The trunk of the tree is actually two trunks entwined in a spiral. (This tree will feature in my NaNoWriMo story, so maybe this sculpture can be a little writing inspiration or something. :)) Next week, I think we'll get to put the wax into the containers for the kiln.

So, any of you have requests for this master-jeweler-to-be? Or, to put it another way, any of you want a hunk of metal vaguely reminicent of what you asked for? *grin*

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Shane said...

I think it'd be awesome if you made the Sacred Chao