I am 75.75 (75-3/4) years old. Thinking about where I am at this point in my life and what I am doing and going to do with the time I have left. Could be 1 day or 15 years. Best I take each day as it comes and make it as good as it can be.
I am “mostly” my own boss, so I spend my time doing “mostly” whatever I want. I am happily married to Gloria, my high school sweetheart since October 1968, so I say “mostly” what I want. Since retirement on March 1, 2015, she is now my only other “boss”. <smile> Since High School (Class of 1964) we have been good partners for 58 years.
Gloria’s favorite activities are piano music (playing & teaching) and heavily into quilting & sewing crafts. She also like selling and sometimes gifting the things I make. She is the main outlet for my craft work.
I have already written much about the craft work I enjoy doing in this blog. KautzCraft started with lost wax casting of silver.
I lament a lot, perhaps too much, on these pages about the time and effort I spend 3D printing, with which I have become much involved. Certainly far too involved, but it is kind of like a drug habit. Hard to kick.
The 3D print design work is creative, but then a machine run by a computer makes the entire build when it is a single one piece print. No hand crafting required. Just print the design. Done!
I originally thought 3D printing would be a good way to produce the models required for casting. This is true. I have been able to cast 3D printed models after after much investment of time, tools, experimentation, and funds.
But I let 3D printing become a dominate single focus activity. Stealing me away from what I know are higher value creative products and materials. Crafting became mostly printable plastic design.
With 3D printing, what I do is make plastic. Good for functional items. With effort, plastic can make master casting models. It is then one intermediate step in a longer path of the creative craft project of metal casting.
I expanded the KautzCraft Studio domain to include all my “making” hobby craft activity. I created separate blogs for each major division. Machine shop, Dimensional Art, 3D printing, LASER Engraving. Links are listed in the left column.
This blog will stay on topic with my silver and lost wax casting.
The best casting results and the craft-work I enjoy the most is making wax master models. I use CNC wax machining for highly accurate models. Wax master models provide for me, better casting quality than 3D plastic printed models. Hand carving wax is a great way to create “organic” master models. The hand work with a wax process can be both additive and subtractive.
I have said all this before, then strayed away. But I really have a desire to do high quality lost wax casting. Silver or any metal is OK except gold, because of its' extreme cost.
WAX is my favorite creative hand-crafting medium. I want to “get away” from the 3D printing curse of making plastic Junque.
I have again put this goal in writing. I will see if I can return to lost wax casting!
Maybe make silver key-fobs again! (Instead of plastic)…
As KautzCraft Studio Store, the web-site was not maintained as a dynamic or agressive e-commerce business. The reason being, KautzCraft is a retirement activity. The Store Website was not perceived by me as a critical source of revenue. I maintained The Store mostly as a "display" which attracted more spam business "support" contacts than sales. Of course there are costs in maintaining any website. My web-site goal was a way to at least "break-even" with my creative craft activities.
Links to the store URL now return to the KautzCraft Studio blog website.
I continue to make silver lost wax cast jewelry and many other craft items. The Store website has simply been "retired" as unnecessay overhead.
Private sales continue on a person-to-person basis. If you are interested in something I have made or have a request for a special item, please contact me directly. I love new projects.
"Doing what I love for those who love what I do."
I have fallen, but I CAN get back up…
A vision of an old TV marketing axiom we all got tired of hearing. Get old and you fall down and can’t get back up. It may be hard, but I know I can get back up.
My “falling” corollary involves my lost wax silver casting. Including other potential cast-able metals. I have “fallen” from actively participating in that craft.
I have the skills. That has been proven. I have all the necessary tools, technique, and equipment. Nothing has been lost. It waits for my return.
I traveled off-road to making plastic Junque with hobbyist 3D printing. I design nice “stuff” with CAD and plastic, but the result is plastic. If you have read previous blog statements, it should be obvious. I don’t feel totally fulfilled with plastic creations. Far less intrinsic value in plastic than silver
October 2021 I am gathering and removing the plastic clutter from around me and my workspace. Making room for the return Lost Wax and all that involves. Figuratively getting back up and walking on a path that provides me the most personal satisfaction.
3D print is not going away. It will be used to make master models for casting. That is what initially changed my direction.
I have several techniques for making the master casting models. Hand carving wax. Machine (CNC) carving wax. Eventually 3D Printed masters.
This posting is a declaration of a change. Not discussing particulars. Just marking a decision point in time where I vow to get back up. Back up to doing what provides the most creative satisfaction.
Not breaking new unplowed ground, But always discovering new and original creative design opportunities in Last Wax casting.
Jewelry is the common product. But Lost Wax process is good for creating many other cast metal items. The limitation is the size of the molds that can be handled.
I have no intentions of becoming a production factory or foundry. KautzCraft is a craftsman operation.
Now looking towards getting back into the “heat” of the Lost Wax casting craft.
Bought a new URL for this website. A URL is a “Uniform Resource Locator” also known as an Internet address. For the first time I picked a URL that is not the common .com, .org, or .net. It is KautzCraft.Studio. The capital letters are not necessary. Just makes it easier to read. http://kautzcraft.studio is the correct form.
The previous URL for this website was kautzcraft.com. I still own that URL but is currently tied to the old hosting service until a few days into the year 2020. Either URL points to the same website. A simple behind-the-scene trick.
It matches my website title, so it is a keeper.
I have also taken down my KautzCraft Store website. Its URL now points here. I may in time, reactivate the store with a much simpler and easier to maintain website. The software I chose was far more interested in promoting and selling store software upgrades than providing the simple presentation service I desire. Meaning, it was far more “professional” than my needs.
My creative works remain available for purchase, but an Internet storefront is not the way to market my craft. I will find an easier alternative.
Fused Deposition Modeling
This is the mainstream hobbyist process for what is generally called three-dimensional printing. Abbreviated as “FDM”. Thermo-plastic is heated past its meting point and extruded through a print head moving in 2-1/2 dimensions. Layer upon layer is built up into a three-dimensional object.
Its best application is rapid prototyping objects that will be manufactured by traditional processes with more durable materials. The process of 3D printing is faster and cheaper for size and shape prototypes. Next best application is simply plastic modeling. In many uses, it is a satisfactory way to make something in plastic. In my opinion it is not a replacement for injection molding plastic for high volume mass production of durable plastic items.
As a hobbyist / artist (hobbyist slash artist) who loves to make things, I jumped into the sea of 3D printing when I discovered the hardware (printers) had become very affordable for hobbyist. Mine were in the $300-$400 range plus supplies. Supplies are mostly but not entirely the plastic filament sold on spools at $50-$25 depending on brand and supposed quality.
I have melted well over a hundred spools of plastic filament over several years. I have invested considerable time and material expense and have had a lot of enjoyment as well as occasional frustration making many things of plastic.
I also experimented with a printing process that uses a plastic based resin that cures to a solid form with Ultra-Violet light exposure. It too is a multiple layer process. It is extremely messy and complex but produces higher quality (smaller layer) plastic items. Object size is limited in my use by the size of the print area.
I published several website blogs dedicated to three-dimensional printing. The one survivor is https://dimensionalprint.org/. Some of my other blogs also contain reference and writeups on my 3D printing activities. Suffice to say, It has been an interesting and rewarding journey. I have been totally involved with the process at a hobbyist level and have become very proficient with the design and making of plastic items.
I coined a term I now use and have used it as the identity for most of the items I have made. That term is Plastic Junque. Junque is a fancy spelling of junk. I have personally realized the bottom line for me is that I have made some “plastic” items of functional value that “should be plastic” and a huge number of junk items that are toys, or display thingies of little or no lasting value.
Lasting value to me is something I have created that represents my human skills and abilities to produce heirloom quality objects that will exist well past my demise. Printed plastic “Junque” doesn’t fill that vision of lasting worth and value. Push start and a “replicator” machine makes the item.
I can design (draw) something but an automated machine totally “makes” it. No human craftsmanship. It’s the single print and done that disturbs me. Make 20 different parts, then assemble, is better. But still, it is plastic. Like the glued plastic model kits I assembled as a kid. Interesting but no real value. Destined to become landfill junk.
What to Do
No, not stop making the Junque. Plastic has its place. I have tried very hard to find an excuse for three-dimensional printing. I discovered an excuse is not required. It is what it is, plastic. When I need something made from plastic, I have mastered a process that will produce it.
My realization is plastic does not replace all conventional material and methods for producing high quality items of enduring value.
The coronation crown for the monarch of Britain will never be made from FDM plastic, but a cheap imitation scale model might.
That illustrates my point. Do I want to continue making only imitation plastic Junque, or a historic crown of gold and jewels fit for a real queen or king?
I don’t see crown-making in my future. Silver crafting (wax carving), wood working, metal craft (machine shop) are all at my avail. The “Sirens of Greek Mythology” are calling for my return from the plastic seas of Junque, to high quality items produced using a real craftsman process and tools. Will I just crash on the rocks?
No, it’s from where I came, and I know their tricks. Just lash me to the mast until we get to port. I have some work to do when I get back home…
CAD is the acronym for Computer Aided Design. Seldom used is CADD which is Computer Aided Design and Drafting. I often (and probably incorrectly) also tend to use the phrase Computer Assisted Design. No one has shot me yet…
50 some years ago when I was studying engineering, it was called “Drafting” and drawings were created using pencil and sheets of paper. Also, T-squares, triangles, large drawing boards and tables. It was very hardware intensive. I had all the tools.
Then I discovered computers.
Electronic CAD was originally a two dimensional drawing system. Then it became a three dimensional drawing system. Paper was replaced by video monitors. Output is sent electronically to printer machines.
But CAD is not just a drawing system. Because it is computerized, all types of data management and control has been integrated into CAD making it a powerful fully integrated design system.
My point here is not to describe all features of today’s CAD.
Everything I make at KautzCraft is now drawn using Three Dimensional (3D) CAD. Zero need for 2D CAD as the 3D version can output 2D drawings when required.
KautzCraft utilizes many different CAD “packages” made by different manufacturers. All create three dimensional output for a process called Computer Assisted Manufacturing (CAM)
Siemens says: “Computer aided manufacturing (CAM) commonly refers to the use of numerical control (NC) computer software applications to create detailed instructions (G-code) that drive computer numerical control (CNC) machine tools for manufacturing parts."
That’s what I do here at KautzCraft.
I have several CNC controlled 3 and 4 axis milling machines for jewelry wax carving and metal machining. I have a CNC overhead 3 axis router for wood carving. I have four CNC controlled FDM 3D printers. And one resin DLP 3D printer.
All those machines require CAD and CAM through many different computer systems to manufacture most if not all the products produced here at KautzCraft.
There are a few items I make totally by hand, and all CAD/CAM products must be assembled and finished with hand labor.
KautzCraft wouldn’t exist without the heavy dependence on todays’ computers and the various types software that is operating on them.
In my opinion, CAD/CAM is the way the creative world works today. It helps me make high quality, finely detailed products I could never produce by primitive manual methods.
I have a progressive disability (PN) that now limits many of my physical abilities. That’s not an excuse. I designed my computer automation to extend my skills past my limitations. It’s been my plan to take every advantage of creative computer automation tools. The plan is working just fine.
KautzCraft is a small hobby type business, making creative, professional quality products for the people who love what I create. Exactly how those products are made is not an important point in my marketing effort. I use the best tools and methods I have available. It’s the quality of the results where I judge my work.
I like to think, so do my customers.
I am constantly refining my process of using three-dimensional printing to create jewelry objects. The road is difficult as I explained in a previous post. I only offer high quality silver work and the three-dimensional printing has not come up to my standards in its ability to withstand the casting process. The dimensional printed silver castings come through the investment process looking terrible.
It is a process all big silver (and gold) cast jewelry makers are using, so it is a viable process with the right technique and investment in equipment. One jeweler in Bellingham, Washington, Jim Binnion (https://mokume-gane.com/about/jim-binnion/) Has a solution using vacuum curing of the resin master.
Jim and I have a very similar background (Navy duty, electronics) and even look the similar in appearance. But Jim is a true professional and teacher of the art and far advance from anything I will ever produce in jewelry. Follow the link (above) and look at the man and his mokume-gane work. I don’t place myself in the same league (or price range) as Jim, but it is clear to me we have the same inquisitive mind about the “why” of the things we do and make.
Jim and I have only briefly communicated. We don’t know each other beyond that. I think he deserves a mention here in KautzCraft Studio.
I am adapting his resin cure process and will be (hopefully) displaying my improved three-dimensional printing results here in KautzCraft Studio. There are Companion Links posted in the left column that will lead to my workshop activities – Dimensional Print and Dimensional Art, Studios.
I ordered some business cards. At last! …I was embarrassed at my first show by not being prepared with a proper business card. I had to borrow my daughter’s. Fixed that. A business card is like the sacred first step in being a real business. Especially one that has face to face contact with its customers.
I have another business selling small machine tools. All sales are made over the Internet and I almost, but not never, see my customers face to face. I should have a card to put in my packages and for the times I do see my customer. That’s next. I may opt for a more generic card without fancy graphics.
My KautrzCraft cards are kind of fancy, feminine looking. I decided they needed to have some style since the product is jewelry and mostly feminine jewelry, but not always. The guys will just have to deal with the look, and buy something for the lady in their life. Ha!
Silver is a good metal for jewelry. Sterling is a hard silver and makes great durable jewelry. Tarnish is a bit of a problem. Argentum is an alternate silver that doesn’t tarnish but is a bit of a different color. It’s also a product made from recycled silver and not a produced in the USA. For now, at least, I’ll cast with sterling from USA sources. I never say never…
I am capable of casting gold; the process is the same as silver lost wax casting. But the extreme cost is likely to make it very hard for me to sell. I think I will leave gold work to the better-known producers. Expensive pieces are sold as much for their brand name as well as the quality of the work. I may need many years of high end work to gain the instant name fame recognition to sell high dollar jewelry. Ha!
I am happy being the little guy with a niche, doing nice specialty silver work. My goal is not to build a dominate presence in the world of cast silver jewelry. At age 70+ I have something I enjoy designing and spending time creating and people are willing to own. Reward enough.
The new business card will help my best salesperson, my dear wife Gloria, present my work. About time I did that for her.