I have made myself many cast silver rings. Just because I can, I suppose. I enjoy lost wax casting technique, and the only jewelry I wear is a ring.
I have been on a hiatus from Lost Was Casting (LWC) for a few years because of the “curse” of three dimensional printing. Much less production effort to print something in plastic than to cast it in solid metal.
Many master models used for casting are being made with three dimensional printing. I have been successful doing that in a limited way. It’s a huge added cost to create the model by printing and the results for me have been far below my expectations.
Good old casting wax remains the best process for my workshop and small scale production. I always get a good clean burn-out of the wax in the investment material.
I have no plans to halt experimentation with resin 3D printing as well as PLA. I have had some good results. Extremely fine layering is required for decent looking models. Resin is the best for that but the good casting type resins are very expensive.
The ring shown here was hand carved from a block of wax. No CNC machining. Just hand tools. It’s nice to get back to the basics, even if I don’t really need another ring. But it is not at all about need. Just the desire to create.
Wax is the standard material for master models. All other processes are measured against the results obtainable with wax.
Wax modeling is an additive as well as subtractive process. Repairs are easy to make by adding wax if mistakes are made.
Wax burns out very cleanly from the investment moulding process of kiln firing. I have had several burn-out issues with plastic (resin) materials. Usually the investment (plaster-like) material is damaged by the plastic.
I developed a very good subtractive machine carving of wax with CNC milling machines and cutting bits as small as 0.003 inches. So wax is NOT just hand carving. My best looking and most detailed wax models are made with CNC machine carving.
Hand carving of wax is a more organic and craft-like creative process. More of the human touch of the artist/creator with the slight variance of hand worked materials. Judgement of shape by the human eye, rather than the perfect accuracy of a computer controlled machine.
There is no “one correct method”. Both hand and machine carving and every creative process has its place. It is all a mater of choice for the results desired.
For me, I do what I like to do. There is a lot of “down time” when I have a 3D printer loaded and doing all my plastic model work with no further input from me. Lots of free time where I enjoy doing new design in CAD. I am looking again at designing in wax for Lost Wax Casting.
With my silver LWC, not only do I get to design (usually is CAD if not hand carving) but then I get to turn the model I designed and made into an an item of far greater intrinsic value than plastic.
Sterling silver is my usual material, but I have also used other metals like brass and bronze. No gold at this point. The cost scares me. But I will never say never.
The casting step is not an automated process. Lots of hands on participation and enjoyable productive time spent.
My workshop is back into a LOST WAX CASTING configuration and current plans and expectations are towards producing much more LWC projects this winter season.
| Drilled hole, then start cutting away
everything not looking like a ring.
|Starting block, Finished hand carving.
|After cleanup and polishing.