Metal Process

 

The Jewelry-making Process ~ Aiming to inform, insight, inspire...  Being a jeweler means many hours are spent at a workbench, a bright light and a sharp eye, doing endless repetitive movements of filing, sanding, shaping metal.  The time and involvement it takes to create a piece of jewelry is a highly involved process.  I hope to build awareness and appreciation for what it takes to bring a piece from start to finish.  After the seed of inspiration is planted, there are many steps before the final piece is complete.  The Fin ring was created from a hand-carved wax.  here's the process...

1. Wax Carving uses hand files and a melting tip to shape wax into form.  

2. Sprue Up - the wax model is built into a "casting tree," the wax trunk of the tree, or "sprue" will create the channel for molten metal to flow into the mold.  unique pieces are cast singularly, and mass produced items can be sprued up to a tree holding dozens of tiny models.

 3. Investment - A crucible is filled with plaster investment, to harden around the wax model.  The plaster investment is put into a vacuum which sucks air bubbles from the plaster before it hardens.  The plaster hardens around the wax model, final product is a plaster negative of the object to be cast.

4. Burn Out - When cured it is put into a kiln to melt the wax out of the plaster mold- called "burnout."   

5. Casting  The "lost wax casting" process is an ancient technique which has endured since the bronze age.  Almost all jewelry in the present day is made by this process.  the wax is "lost" by the process above, and molten metal is issued into the plaster mold, filling the negative space. 

6. Finishing  The casting is burst from the hot plaster by quenching it in water, and the texture it emerges with is grainy and rough, called a "casting skin".  Filing After the "sprue" or base of the casting is sawed off, the process of polishing begins.  Starting with the largest, roughest files, mold seams and imperfections are rhythmically cleaned up, followed by a smaller set of files  for detail work Sanding with sand paper, starting with the roughest grade, following with three to four grades smoother, before using a buffing or polishing compound.  Finishing Tools Using the handheld rotary attachments, there are a wide variety of polishing tools available for sanding, burnishing, brushing, buffing.  Finally, the piece is polished on a polishing wheel, cleaned, and steamed to a bright sparkle.

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