Jen, I cast filigree all the time…that is my specialty!..there
are tricks to it, but my original wire that I use to make filigree is
1X0.5 mm! You just won’t find many casters willing to go that extra
mile. In fact, when I bought my casting equipment a couple of years
ago, I called the company saying I just wanted to make sure I was
getting the best suited equipment and supplies for casting filigree!
the reaction was like “you’re going to cast what?!?!?!”.
In any case, part of it has to do with creating a design that the
silver will flow into even with fine wires. you can’t have a design
that is too large, or where the design is too complicated where it
will flow against the flow of the silver. I also use a 1x1 mm
framework of square wire on my filigree. This 1x1 framework makes it
more structurally sound, but also makes a flow channel through the
piece. You need to have the filigree densely enough designed so that
the silver will flow from one end to the other.
I use blue plasto-wax, even though there are waxes meant for fine
work, I like the plast-o-wax because it is sturdy and flexible enough
to pull out of the molds. Use low shrink silicon mold
rubber…Silicon is self releasing…don’t hold your mold too hard
when injecting waxes or it will cause flashing inside the filigree,
but not too loosely either or you’ll get it shooting out the
sides…this took me a while to find just the right pressure
when treeing the wax, think silver flow…always think about where
your flow will be. I set up trees with an average of over 50
components on each with filigree. Last casting I had one tree that
came out 100% with no partials and most of mine are about 90% give or
Lastly, casting temp…much higher than usual. My first attempt,
using vaccum casting was a disaster. The silver froze up before it
could fill the fine designs. You have to compensate more with vaccum
than with centrifugal for the rate of fill vs speed of cool down as
it flows through the fine patterning. I cast at 1150 deg. F flask
temperature. and my electromelt brings my silver temps to about 1920
deg F before casting.
So yes, it is possible. I have some pictures of my last raw
casting(trees, waxes etc) to show how possible it is. I will try to
post them online later… look at http://jeannius.com/cast/ and you
can see the fineness of pieces that I am casting. it is entirely
possible…but the attitude you’re talking about from the casting
houses are exactly the biggest reason I do my own casting! Even if
they were willing to do it, the extra time involved by them would
probably jack the price up a lot!
BTW. I think a lot of the fine filigree components you see sold are
done by stamping rather than casting.