While I am primarily a bead weaver, I do some silver work as an
adjunct to the beading.
One of my “production” items is a cuff bracelet featuring a wide,
flat strip of woven beadwork, very intricate design.
The cuff itself is simple: imagine a 6" x 1" strip of 20 gauge
sterling with a frame of 2mm square sterling wire soldered around the
perimeter on top of the flat strip. The beadwork is set into the
"frame" after the bracelet is shaped on a mandrel.
While the smithing isn’t complex, it seems to me that I could save a
lot of time by having the bracelet cast. I made a model in silver,
sent it to a local casting house. I asked for a silicone mold, as I
understood that it would have less shrinkage, and I asked for fine
silver so there’d be less tarnish (it’s not easy to clean the bracelet
once the beadwork is set in). I wanted 5 castings of the bracelet.
Bottom line: the caster couldn’t produce more than 2 decent casts in
the three weeks he had the work. I finally just told him to send the
master back to me. And now I’m still fabricating these cuffs, over and
Orchidians, what did I do wrong? Is my design intrinsically
un-castable? In casting companies’ ads, I see pictures of bracelets
that appear similar in volume and general design (without the beading
of course). Was it the request for fine silver? Now I understand that
there’s a low-tarnish sterling…would that have been easier to cast?
Should I not have requested a silicone mold? How do I adapt my master
bracelet to accommodate shrinkage? Is shrinkage uniform in all
Fine Craft BeadWork