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Casting questions


Business for me has picked up witch is good (except for the
bounced check I just found out about- someone will have to pay me
next time up front with a cashier’s check!)

The flip side is now I can no longer hand fabricate all of my
pieces. Some items I am going to have to start casting. I had a
really bad experience casting when I was in school (I had an
order for 50 identical necklaces for a wedding party and
friends). I did not know much about the process and the casting
place I went to did not really like working with someone as green
as me.

Any tips for prepping pieces to be cast would be appreciated. I
plan on making copper versions of my pieces and then having them
cast to silver. I plan on casting a lot of bezels in place for
bracelets, rings …

Also if anyone can refer me to some casting places that would be
appreciated! I live in New York, but I don’t mind mailing items.
It actually saves me a lot of time and keeps me at my bench
instead of on the subway.



Dede asked for a caster referral. We sometimes mail to New
York, oddly enough! If I remember correctly, the name is
Quality Casting somewhere in NYC. Don’t know where, sure you
can find them. Fast, reliable, even by mail. I could recomend
someone in Chicago, but I’m sure you can find someone in NYC,
and while it feels silly to mail within our own city, it can
make sense.


John Henkel, who is on this list, is an excellent choice for
casting. He is located at 16 Union St., PO Box 661, Brunswick,
ME 04011-0661. His phone number is 207-729-3599.

Sharon Ziemek

Hey DeDe: Enjoy your contributions to Orchid. Why not use Billanti
Casting in New Hyde Park, NY 516) 775-4800. They have a great
reputation here in Northern Calif. Decent prices & good turn
around time, plus they don’t mind if you are a first timer. Hope
this helps. Helene S-French

I use Billanti, they are on Long Island. Unfortunately, they
will be closing for vacation at the end of the month. They are
very fast with their order processing. I would suggest you make a
sterling model for them to make the mold from.

Rick Hamilton

Dede…I have THE answer to that one. After trying many
casters with greater or lesser success, a friend referrred me to
a caster that I’ve used exckusively for the last 20 years. They
are VERY good, totally reliable and lower priced than many. And
convenient…on 47th Street right next door to Myron Toback.

Ampex Castin Corp.
23 West 47 Street   3rd Floor

And how come I never knew you were in New York ?

Sol K.

DeDe, The primary consideration in my mind when preparing a model
for casting is the the finish be as perfect as possible. The
better the finish the less work cleaning and polishing the

I can highly reccomend a caster that I have been using for about
23 years.

    Billanti Casting Co.
    299 South 11th St. - PO Box 1117
    New Hyde Park, NY 11040
    (516) 775-4800

Billanti is a family run business, good people, reliable,
excellent quality work. I send things to them regularly and they
usually UPS the return within two days of receipt. If you have
any questions please feel free to call me at (914) 358-1701.


Hi DeDe, I saw your message on orchid and would like to let you
know of our casting and finishing services.We deal with a fair
amount of designers of which we have helped to understand what
is necc. to get the best possible casting of your items.Our
company does model making , mold making , vibratory/magnetic
tumbling /steel shot tumbling and high polish hand finishes in
Brass/Bronze/Sterling/14k /18k/ yellow and white golds and also
pewter (which is a diferent process).Our factory is practically
next door to a plating facility where we have our Pewter /
brass/bronze /silver pieces plated… so we handle plating of
goods that we produce as well.Stonesetting and metal molds for
wax injection are some of the other processes we do. If you need
casting serveices or help , feel free to contact us . (visit the workshop on the
frontpage) RaceCar Jewelry Co. Daniel Grandi PO box
10327(billing)zip 02910 52 Glen Rd (shipping) Cranston , RI. 02920
Tel/fax: 401/461/7803

Just read Helene S-French’s advice about casters in NY. Who
would you recommend in the Bay area? I have had Mel Harris do
some work and I was pleased with it but would like some
additional recommendations about shops with whom folks on this
site have had positive experience. I tried Sierra casting but
they never returned my phone call. I would like to get advice
about other places. Thanks!

Shael Barger>

Dede–Sol K. turned me on to Ampex a few months ago, and I was
really pleased with their work. They handled some very
difficult detail extremely well. And you can bring the things in
a talk to someone. last I heard Billanti doesn’t allow any
walk-ins–deals only by mail. Sandra


Looks like you’ve gotten lots of responses to your question of
where to cast. If you’d like additional sources, check out MJSA’s
ReferralNet service. You can use it online at or via faxback system at MJSA at
1-800-444-6572. You can also talk to a real live person and have
them run the search for you M-F 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. EDT: just talk
to member services at that same 800 number.

You can also take a look at the advertisers in AJM magazine. AJM
has a number of casters who advertise wiht them regularly. In
addition, August is the annual Casting issue, so if you have a
back copy or can wait until August, you can find an extra bonanza
of casters in there.

Speaking of which, AJM ran an article in an August 1995 called
"Getting Along with Your Caster" that’ll give you some
suggestions for working with contract casters, including what you
need to do and what you can expect them to do. You should be
able to get a copy by calling MJSA at 1-800-444-6572 or e-mailing
AJM at

Hope that helps!

Suzanne Wade

Hi Dede, We have been casting for student and art jewelers for
many years. We believe in taking the time to discuss your casting
needs. You can see our ad in Metalsmith mag. As with the many
fine folks on Orchid we share as much as we know. Begining a
production casting project can be confusing sometimes, but we can
give you some insights to keep your costs down, make finishing
easier, and your profit up. Does this sound like a plug? We
really believe we a support service to jewelers. E-mail me
off-line or call me at 207.729.3599. J.A. J.A. Henkel Co.


The spalling is probably caused by too short of a mixing cycle. If
you don’t mix long enough, the water will separate and run down the
sides of your ring, causing the streaks when you cast. Follow the
manufacturers recommended time. We use R&R Ultra vest. We start the
mix at 8 minutes, mix till the timer says 4 1/2 min. Then we vacuum
the bowl til it says 2 1/2 min. The investment is then poured into
the flasks and vacuumed the remaining 2 1/2 min. All of this keeps
the investment moving until it is almost ready to set, preventing
the water from separating.

Dave Anderson

I had a chat with Noel about the casting issues. We went over the
whole process, and at the end I asked how they measure water and
powder. They measure the water by volume and weight the powder. I
had issues a long, long time ago, called Kerr and talking to a tech I
was advised to weight the water and powder, and I have ever since.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

Then we vacuum the bowl til it says 2 1/2 min. The investment is
then poured into the flasks and vacuumed the remaining 2 1/2 min. 

I am not going to disagree, I found that mixing for 1 1/2 mins.,
vacuum mixing bowl for 1 1/2 mins., then pour and vacuum for 1 1/2
mins. works fine. I normally do 20-50 pieces on a tree, the smaller
flasks, 2 x 2 1/2, seem to set faster than the larger, 3 x 6. Larger
flasks are sterling, smaller flasks for gold.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

I was advised to weight the water and powder 

The powder, certainly, but water has a pretty constant density. It
shouldn’t make any difference whether you weigh or measure volume.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY

I was advised to weight the water and powder The powder, certainly,
but water has a pretty constant density. It shouldn't make any
difference whether you weigh or measure volume. 

The issue is in measurement error. Weight is much easier to measure
accurately than volume. If you use a graduated cylinder type vessel
with small intervals to measure the water than fine but most folks
use something more akin to a baking cup measure or other coarsely
graduated vessel the larger in diameter it is the greater the ease
for significant error. This can result in an error of several
percent. More than enough to get outside the optimum performance
ratio for water and investment.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Hello Noel,

The problems you are describing seem to originate from the embeding
process. Check out your Powder to water ratios. Check out the
measuring apparaturs. Allow the flasks to hold before starting
burnout for at least 2 hours. Donot use a fast burnout cycle. Use a
slower burnout cycle with hold time at each step. Eg. step one 150
degrees centigradein one hour, step two 150 held for one hour.

Try this first post your results.

Hope this helps.
Warm Regards

The powder, certainly, but water has a pretty constant density. It
shouldn't make any difference whether you weigh or measure volume. 

Theoretically you are right, practically, not. Please remember,
first of all I was quoting someone from Kerr who was helping me
trouble shoot my problem. I mentioned I was having an issue, when I
started weighting, as I had previously used a milliliter measuring
container, I solved my problem.

Casting 9 3"x7" flasks 3 times a week with 50 to 75 pieces, I
couldnot suffer the time and expense to redo the pieces. My
experience was that after trying to vary the flask temp, melt temp,
how pieces were sprued, weighing the water made the difference.

I do not know why, but when I put the weighted water in the
milliliter container, it was not the same as the markings. I would
suspect that if the weighed water is accurate, when compared to the
volume measurement, if they are not the same, I suspect the container
is not accurate.

If Noel reports back that weighting the water solves the issues,
then it did make a difference, as it did for me.

One more point. There are discussions about centrifugal vs vacuum
casting. I use centrifugal. For the first time, I just sent out
about a dozen different pieces, a dozen copies of each to be cast.
They use vacuum. They had miscasts and had to redo because how I
sprue works fine for centrifugal, but presents a problem for vacuum
casting. I need minimal spruing for two reasons, ease of clean up,
and there are textured areas and I do not want to sprue on the
textured area, so I sprue to the edge of a ring. I have made
thousands of pieces spruing like this, but there was a learning curve
for this caster with myway of doing it.

I started casting over 35 years ago because casters could not do my
pieces the way I needed them done.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

The powder, certainly, but water has a pretty constant density. It
shouldn't make any difference whether you weigh or measure volume. 

My thought, exactly. Until I realised that when the balance is off,
you have the correct amount of water, but the wrong amount of
investment. So weighting both (on the same balance) is actually a
safe bet.