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Bees wax questain

Dear Orcihdians: For any of you that have views on useing bees wax for
your modeling work in lost casting can you recommend it or not ? Is
it carvable,does it melt ok? Bsaically what I’m asking is can it be
used in lost wax casting. I would appreciate your comments… Thanks, Karen Bryan

Hi Karen; Of course, beeswax can be used for lost wax casting! I
would suspect that it is probably one of the earliest, if not the
first materials used by mankind for that purpose. But it does have
some drawbacks. It’s sticky. . .a problem which can be overcome with
the use of a light organic oil such as cooking oil (in small amounts).
It’s also quite soft after a bit of manipulation. This can be
overcome by keeping cold water on hand to chill it when it gets too
soft. My question is this: are you interested in beeswax for
anachronistic reasons? If not, there are commercial products that
have characteristics that are ideally suited to different approaches
to working wax. “Karvex” and “File-a-wax” by Ferris are great for
carving and filing. Various types of microcrystalline wax are better
for soft forming. There are waxes for build up work, for injecting
into molds, ad infinitum. Get a catalog from one of the many suppliers
of these materials like Rio Grande, Swest, Gesswien, Stuller, etc.,
and read up on it. Check out books by Phillip Morton, Oppi Untracht,
and others on the subject.

David L. Huffman

Bees wax is used by the Asante (Ghana) brass casters

But here’s a good malleable and strong scuplture wax recipe:

  1 part pine rosin (tree rosin)
  1 part bees wax
  1 part paraffin block

Melt the rosin slowly, then add the others. It’s soft and tough when
warmed up in your hands, and yet cools to a not too brittle rigid.

Not carvable, unless you consider chewing gum carvable.


Karen, As a former bee keeper and present jeweler I can tell you
that bees wax is too soft to carve with power tools unless you do it
in a freezer but you can sculpt with it and mold it using various
tools to create jewelry it is a soft wax and there are many waxes out
there that lend themselves to carving.It has been used for centuries
by artists to sculpt with.I worked in a bronze foundry for years and
we burned out tons of it very successfully.
J Morley Coyote Ridge J Morley Studio

Karen, I use Ferris file a wax for all my sculpture and jewelry. It
can be carved, sanded, filed, turned like metal, cut with a jewelry
saw or a band saw and ground with a metal burr. It does not have an
affinity for sticking to itself. it can be repaired by melting wax
into the error, however the patch is a little more gummy than the
original but still workable. There are more waxes with different
characteristics than one can ever use. Try all and settle on the
one/ones that works best for your projects.

Bees wax may be free but the bees bite.

good luck

Karen, The question of using bees wax reminds me of a story an
engineer told me many years ago. He was with a crew building a road
in a very remote area in South America. He became acquainted with a
tribe of natives. He got to know them and observed the following:
They took bees wax and modeled a fetish, took it to the river and
packed fine clay (equivalent to ceramic slip) around it. They then
placed the clay covered wax into a fire pit and covered it with hot
embers. While the heat burned out the wax and fired the clay into
ceramic they melted native copper. Once the copper was melted they
poured it into the ceramic mold. Let it cool, break the ceramic mold
and guess what. They had a copper fetish.

Our medical society make hip joints the same way only they use
refined materials. I am sure the natives never saw the process of
making hip joints on national geographic.

The story shows that any people that had leisure time could by
accident learn how to do lost wax casting.

good luck

It may not actually be so that lost wax casting was discovered by
accident by these natives of South America. The native populations of
Mexico and South America have been skilled metal workers for
centuries. They hand worked and lost wax cast copper, silver and
gold, and did mercury gilding. There are early Spanish reports of huge
quantities of precious metal work. Unfortunately, only a small
quantity of their magnificent work remains, as the Spanish melted all
they could find on site into ingots to transport back to Spain.
However, there is growing evidence that these people did not develop
their metal working skills independently. It seems very possible that
there was consistent overseas contact with China. Not only metal
working skills may have been introduced, but ceramics, hard stone
carving, and even lacquer work. It is beginning to seem very likely
that our “prehistoric” forbearers got around on the globe a whole lot
more than we used to think.