Wax Carving

By John Volney

If a piece of jewellery or jewelry is too difficult to fabricate (i.e. when you use sheet metal and wire and manipulate them into a piece of jewellery or jewelry with techniques such as bending, forging, soldering etc.) often a jeweller will use ?lost-wax casting? as an alternative technique.

Casting allows a lot of freedom with the kind of designs that can be realised and is a great way of being expressive with your creativity. With practice, intricate details or flowing forms can be accomplished by wax carving and then casting the piece into metal.

A casting usually starts life as a piece of carving wax and you sculpt your piece from this block of wax much like a sculptor would carve a statue from a block of stone. There are different grades of wax for different wax carving techniques; hard waxes that hold intricate detail very well through to very soft waxes that can be bent and moulded with your fingers to form, for example, the petals of a flower.

The tools needed to get you started with wax carving are very simple. They include:

* Needle files that have a rasp-like cut
* Saw blades with very jagged teeth that you would use to do the preliminary rough cutting of your block of wax.
* Scalpel with blades
* Some steel pointed tools much like a dentist would use for applying fillings. You use these to scrape away the wax or apply wax back on with heat
* A methylated spirit lamp
* And something to smooth the finished piece with e.g. sandpapers or finer files.

The next stage is to get the piece from wax into metal. Most jewellers would give their wax model to a casting company that specialises in lost-wax casting and mould making. They will give you back a rough casting that would require standard jewellery finishing techniques like filing, papering and polishing to get from a rough cast surface to a finished piece.

 

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