Anna, there are others better qualified than me to talk about
water-casting, but in case they don’t post, here’s an outline.
Take one small cooking pan. Cut out a circle of fabric a bit larger
than the pan, drape it over the pan, and then secure it with an
elastic band or some string or wire around the outside of the pan.
You should now have a sort of hammock, the bottom of which should be
about 5cm below the rim of the pan. I presume that any fabric will
do - as I’m using an old nylon t-shirt, the heat shouldn’t have an
impact on anything you use, although I suppose that a soft canvas or
leather will be even more resistant.
Now, fill the pan to the top with water, making sure that there are
no air bubbles trapped underneath the fabric. I initially did it
with cold water, but Ford Hallam advised me to try it with 75C
water, and that did seem to improve the process. Place the pan on a
secure place near where you will be heating your crucible - it is
important that you pour the molten metal immediately after you take
the heat away, or it won’t pour well.
You will need a crucible that is gripped in a long handle - do not
cut corners by trying to grip crucibles with forceps or similar -
molten metal is really, really dangerous. If possible, wear natural
fabrics and good leatherboots, plus goggles. An apron and gloves are
good too. If you are new to this kind thing, you might want a friend
with you, just in case the worst should happen. We all make silly
mistakes sometimes, so this is no insult against your abilities.
When the metal is hot enough to pour, you want a nice, steady tip of
the crucible into the water (they usually have a lip, so pour in
What happens next is just strange - the molten metal will pool at
the bottom of the fabric hammock, and create a jacket of steam, in
which it will sit for up to 30 seconds, depending on how much metal
you are pouring. If you pour badly, the metal sometimes stays molten
long enough that it all collects together anyway, but if it does go
wrong, wait until the steam jacket goes and re-melt the metal and
pour again. You might want to practice a few times in this way.
Once the steam jacket is gone, the metal will be below 100C, but it
and the water may be hot enough to hurt you, so use tweezers to pick
it up and submerge it in cold water before handling, just to be on
the safe side. What you should have is a regular oval blob of metal,
with a very smooth surface and little or no flux or oxidation. You
might want to pickle it anyway, just to be sure.
A word of advice - if you pour fine silver, instead of sterling,
there seems to be a dimple. I don’t know why, but those of you in
the UK will immediately recognise the ingot as a Werther’s Original.
If you pour platinum, it will spit, and shed a few tiny spheres
inside the water. Using pre-heated water reduces this, but it is
still a problem, so be super-careful (and I’d suggest being taught
about platinum before making that jump, as it is expensive and the
melting temp. is really high). This method makes the best platinum
melt-ups you will ever see. Low carat golds will pour less well than
high carat. All of the specific details assume that you are pouring
no more than a couple of ounces of metal. If you do more, you’ll
need a bigger pan,more water…etc.
If you need any more info, feel free to contact me on my personal
email. How can such a simple process need so much explanation! I
hadn’t planned to write an essay!
Thanks to Brian Adam for introducing me to the basic idea. The
further details are from my own experiments. Here’s Brians’ website: