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Casting lace


Has any tried casting lace or have thoughts/suggestions on making it
work? I’ve asked around and gotten a few suggestions; soaking in wax,
then heating on top of a papertowel to wick out some of the wax and
restore some detail. Or soaking in a diluted varnish.

Ideally, I’m hoping to get it cast in 14ky, but any precious metal
would be a success.

I attached an image to give a better sense of scale.

Thank you,

Hi Paul,

You have nominated a very difficult task and there is a lack of
detail of what you actually wish to achieve. The first question to me
is what is the shape and size of the piece you wish to cast in gold.
The second question is how is it to be incorporated into final
project. These issues need to be considered in the context of two
issues to be addressed to get a sound casting.

The first of these issues has already been identified, the use of
filler material to bulk the lace sufficiently for the metal to flow
after burnout.

There is an inevitable trade off here between getting a good metal
flow and maintaining the original texture. If I was using wax I
wouldn’t just dip the item in molten wax because this would likely
obscure too much texture.

Rather I would work on my piece with a wax pen and a small heat gun
to apply the wax filler in a much more controlled way. Alternatively
I would use some spray lacquer, the sort that is used by artists as a
fixative for charcoal drawings.

The second issue is how do you attach your piece of prepared lace to
your sprueing arrangement and this obviously relates to the size and
shape of the piece of lace. If, for instance your piece of lace was a
circle or oval up to around 30mm then I would make a frame in 2.5mm
wax wire and place the lace within this frame with every bit of lace
around the edge of the lace welded to the frame. I would then weld a
radial pattern of 2.5mm wax wires around the frame to lead back to
the sprue base remembering the basic principle of sprueing that the
metal should always flow away from the sprue base.

You also need to consider your final design. For instance the frame
might be part of the final piece in which case you may fabricate and
sprue the frame for this purpose.

It is fortunate that your plans were to cast in gold rather than in
silver because gold is easier to cast because it is more dense than
silver and more fluid when molten. Nevertheless given the delicacy of
the structure I would cast after burnout when the flask is at 500C
rather than 450 and if possible use a centrifugal rather than vacuum
casting process. I also expect that you might have a failure or two.

I does sound like an interesting project and I wish you the best of

Jennifer Gow
Tears of the Moon Artisan Jewellery

Casting this is challenging. Growing a 3D printed model is one

Karen Christians

Hi Paul,

I’ve had reasonably good luck by soaking it with hot wax. Get some
sprue wax molten on the tip of your hot pen, touch it to the lace
and let it soak in. Repeat as often as necessary to get it to really
impregnate the lace, and that should do it. The stuff I did was
cotton though. If the lace is nylon or a synthetic, that may not
work as well.

What’re you up to?


Hello Paul, You can rub shellac firmly into the lace. Don’t leave
any residue. A wet look means too much shellac. This will cause a
loss of the detail. Let it dry while hanging on a nail and then
proceed with your regular set up. Cast at a higher than usual
temperature. It should be around 1050 to 1100 deg F for gold, I
don’t know about silver. I’ve done this a number of times and it
works well. Have fun. Tom

Hi Paul.

I don’t know how big you want the lace to be, but suggest you use
some form of precious metal clay paste. The paste can be brushed
onto the lace, allowed to dry then fired. You may need to apply more
than one coat.

Hope this helps
Lesley Watson

I’ve tried casting lace, with mixed results. I’ve done the soaking
in wax and blotting, and it’s worked sometimes, and sometimes not.
One suggestion I can make which I use for casting twigs and other
fragile organics, is to soak it in Liquitex gloss or matte medium,
which you can dilute with water. you can do several coats, drying in

My Holy Grail is casting a bleeding heart flower. I’ve never been
able to figure out how to get it rigid enough so the investment
doesn’t mash it flat.

Janet Kofoed

Have you considered roll printing the lace? If that’s not for you,
and you want to stiffen it before casting, or making a mould use some
shellac or non-polyurethane varnish- you should apply a couple of
coats letting it completely dry before subsequent coats It will be
stiff enough to make a mould, If you insure you have eliminated any
and all air bubbles when applying the shellac, You would get a stiff
& impermeable fabric sheet with many uses or use for delft clay

Some may suggest coating with a resin (a crystal clear/water clear
product like Castaldo’s line of clear resins or Ice brand (craft)
have a preserved piece of fabric that could be used over and over.
Same with the shellacked fabric/lace. store it flat (storing in a
paper press would be ideal!). However as for making a wax to cast
from - there are far easier ways to get a reproduction of the
example you showed Orchid given the extremely delicate spaces between
the threadier parts of the sample that would probably take some
problem solving skills to get it right ! know I would personally
never attempt it from fabric directly to a wax unless the fabric was
replaceable and expendable !! Good Luck-truly. rer

Hello Paul

Maybe Klyr-fire, glue for enamelling that will burn completely in
kiln isbetter for lace. Mix water and Klyr-fire spray or soak the
lace and let dry. The glue will harden little bit so you can make a
model for casting.


Paul - Casting things as small as the thread in that kind of lace
probably won’t work. You are way under my rule of thumb which is the
smallest free standing item to cast is at least 0.5 mm.

I’m not sure what you want to do with the casting so this might not
be an answer - experiment with drop out etching. The thickness of
what you etch will determine how thin your fine bits of string can
be. Carol Webb, California, is doing some spectacular drop out
etching and would have a better description of the process. She
teaches all over the country.

Another choice would be laser cutting, but digitizing the image is
an unknown problem for me.

Judy Hoch

Use a nylon type or other plastic, not cotton

I would try old fashion shirt starch. Soak in a concentrated
solution and iron dry. The starch might be hard to find these days.
The last time I starched a shirt was in the 1970s. Corn starch might
work. I have no idea what the fabric to silver ratio is. Try silver
first. if it comes out good, then gold.

Meredith Ott
Canyon Lake, TX

Good luck. Use a lot of sprues and just try it. You’ll get some.
Blow out the flask with compressed air before you pour. Maybe roll a
little so it’s not touching itself and sprue from the end. SD

Just adding my two cents in here though I don’t know if it will work
or not. Has anyone considered using Delft clay sand to cast lace?
I’ve seen it can be used with many, many items both sturdy and
delicate to get an almost perfect replica. Might even work for the
bleeding heart plant. Just a thought.

Just a thought.

I once had lace silver electroplated and it turned out well. It was
quite a long time ago, so I sadly don’t remember who did the
electroplating. Perhaps someone who provides this service will speak
up on Orchid.

Best of luck,
Munya Avigail Upin

To all:

I have cast lace and match sticks among other difficult items.

Chicken bone were the worst. Won’t do that anymore.

Would recommend molding these items first. Silicone molds will mold
most anything.

Not that I know the absolute best way to cast this stuff, this is
how I do it successfully for me.

The problem is that you will create ash in the process. If you can’t
eliminate the ash you will have a bad cast.

Here’s my approach. Soak the lace in hot liquid paraffin wax and
paper towel dry. This leave the detail and saturates the lace with

You may have to work on wicking the extra wax from the lace.

Here is the key, spru the piece straight up and invest.

Make sure you have a complete burn out cycle. I usually go

Your flask temperature should peak at 1350 F and stay there for at
least four hours. This will burn everything, but not eliminate ash
from the flask.

Bring the flask down to 900 F to 1000F for casting. Now here is the
important part.

With the spru side down tap the flask and watch the ash fall out. I
tap with an old screw driver. Do this and look inside the spru hole
to see if there is any ash left. Keep doing this until the ash appear
to be gone.

Keep this in mind this flask is approximately 1000F. While I have
had some bad cast this way, most have turned out. You might set up
two or three pieces just in case the one doesn’t work.

This should take all of a minute at the most. Your flask will drop
in temperature so cast as soon as you feel the ash is gone.

As a historic note, my mentor Ray said in the old days (1940s -
1960s)they used to cast pieces like lace and wood and let the flask
cool to room temperature. When the flask was room temperature they
would turn the flask upside down and pour Mercury into the hole. By
swirling the flask and pouring the Mercury back out, it collected the
ash and you would heat the flask up a second time and cast. The
Mercury would collect the ash and clean the flask of residue. It
would not leave a residue and you cast away.

Would not recommend the Mercury process although it did work for

Good luck and remember: Old school is good school,
Todd Hawkinson

We here at Whaley Studios have been successfully casting lace for
many years now. The secret seems to be to use an electric wax pen
and “beef up” the lace with an easy flowing sprue wax which will
impregnate the fabric fibers without losing its detail. More wax
should be applied to the back surface to build it up to a castable
thickness. If casting a bracelet, the two ends can be bent together,
making a teardrop shape, easy to sprue at the joined bracelet tips.
This waxed lace hoop will probably need a number of feeder sprues
attached to the inside of the lace model to supply enough metal flow
to feed the entire shape.

The weight conversion of the waxed lace is the same as wax. To cast
the lace in sterling, we use a conversion factor of 16, which will
provide an adequate sprue button upon casting. (so a sprued wax model
of 4 gr. would need 64 gr. of sterling to cast.)

No special burn-out is required, as our programmed kiln ramps up to
1350 degrees over an 8 hr. cycle. No need to blow out carbon from
flask before casting.

Jay Whaley

I have not tried this but had a thought about lace. There is a epoxy
used to repair wood rot. it is basely a fiberglass resin that has
been thinned to the consistency of water so it will soak into the
rotted wood then hardens. Should work on lace and maybe flowers.

Vernon Wilson
Panama Bay Jewelers


Lots of interesting replies, however… fabric lace into metal?,.

How about

  1. making it stiff with some waterproof clear laquer, because tyhe
    plating solution is agitated!

  2. then make it electrically conducting via a carbon coating like
    thats used for electroforming,

  3. then electroform it in a plating solution.

You may need to put copper on first then your gold.

Reminds me of the cast iron Berlin black jewellery made in Germany
over 100 yrs ago, but that was definately cast iron centrifically


The concept of using metal clay paste/Slip is a good one. You would
need to thin the Slip a little and paint on many layers, drying
between each layer. This would work for the lace and also for the
Bleeding Heart blossom.

The blossom would indeed need to be stiffened before painting on the
Slip. I would suggest using a thin and thinned (with a little water)
artist Medium first, to stiffen the blossom. Dry and begin to paint
with the Slip.

You can use Slip made from any metal clay (fine silver, sterling,
bronze, copper, etc.). The caveat is that once painted, your lace or
blossom will need to be dried completely and then fired, preferably
in a metal clay kiln.

Hope this is useful,
Linda Kaye-Moses