CAD alternative

I'm interested in doing some amuletic pendants with lettering and
images, filigree type designs, and possibly rings.

Hi, I have a suggestion that might help with the lettering and
filigree-type designs, at least. When I have a task such as a logo,
with lettering, filigree that I wouldn’t even think of hand carving,
designs set for later enameling, I use a simple graphics program to
create the design and the model master to create the prototype. It’s
a simple process and produces very accurate results. The way that it
works is to first create the design on your computer. For example,
someone’s logo. I scan it into a graphics program. Change it to just
black and white, increase the contrast alot, convert it to a negative
and print it on a transparency. I now have a film negative. (actual
size) Then you cut out a piece of the model master polymer, lay the
negative on it and expose it in the machine for one min. Then the
great part. You scrub the polymer with a soft toothbrush with water
and the part of the design that was masked (black on the negative) is
washed away, leaving you with nice fine letters and the logo design.
There is a polymer that is supposed to be able to be casted directly
from this point, but I’ve never been able to get nice results from
it. So you have a clean model of the design, but have to get it to
wax. I vulcanize it to a regular mold, inject it, and cast the piece.
You could use non-heat epoxy products to obtain a mold, but whatever
you do, it beats trying to produce this type of design by hand. Rio
Grande sells the model master and has a pretty nice overview in their
catalog. It won’t do 3d or many of the things that a CAD system will
do, but it doesn’t cost thousands either. Just one more tool to be
used for the right kind of job. Bud Cravener