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Need Lots of Advise


#1

Ok this is my first post here since I just joined yesterday. I
think I found my dream forum with all you experienced jewelers.
Hopefully you won’t get my membership pulled because I ask too many
questions.

I haven’t been doing this long but I am really enjoying myself and
it gives me alot of relaxation to sit down and make jewelry. I’ve
dabbled into most phases of it and have done some Lost Wax Casting
in Silver. I would like to start doing some in 10K and 14K Gold.
Heres my problem.

Would it be better to buy the casting grain already in 10K and 14K
form? Or would it be better to buy 24K and the alloys and make my
own? And is there any special method to mixing the alloys and the
Gold? Lord I hope this doesn’t make me sound stupid. LOL. I could
really use some advice here.

Best Regards
Dale Carr


#2

Dale,

Welcome to Orchid. Please keep in mind that no question is stupid,
afterall everyone on this forum started at the beginning in this
field and most likely had many questions that seemed stupid to them.

As for the question of buying 10kt or 14kt as compared to buying
pure gold and mixing your own gold is a matter of choice and
economics. The cost of mixing your own can add up to fairly good
savings depending on where you buy your gold. My suggestion is to buy
pre mixed alloys and use that with your pure gold. As you gain more
experience you may wish to experiment with your own alloy mixes. As
for mixing the gold and alloy, I use a 5 gal bucket filled about
half way up with clean water. I place a Pyrex bowl in the bottom of
the bucket. I start by placing the pure gold in my crucible and as it
starts to show signs of melting I start adding my alloy. It is very
important that you get a complete melt from this or you will have
some grain that is higher and some that is lower than the karat that
you want. Some people use a carbon or quartz rod to stir the mix. I
use neither, I like to take the crucible and rock it back and forth
until I see a complete mix and then I pour it slowly into the water.

Make sure that your crucible is well coated with Borax.

Good luck
Greg DeMark
email: greg@demarkjewelry.com
Website: http://www.demarkjewelry.com
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry


#3

Welcome to the Orchid Forum. There is lots of advice available here,
a whole decade’s worth is already filed and sorted and stored in the
database of the Orchid Archives.

If you are new to the forum step number one is to learn to use the
ARCHIVES. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of topics have been
discussed and dissected over the years and that wealth of information
is readily available for you to search in the archives. Rather than
posting the same questions which have been asked and answered many
times already, go to the archives first to see if there is any
available on your specific topic of interest. If you
can’t find anything there to help you, then post a question to the
forum.

Welcome aboard,

Michael David Sturlin
www.michaeldavidsturlin.com


#4

Good morning,

I agree with Greg on two points, never a stupid question, and if you
alloy your own his advice is sound. Advantage to buying prealloyed,
which the cost difference isn’t that much, consistent color every
time, never have to worry if the carat is off, which if you sell a
product stamped 14k and it turns out to only be 12k, big problems.
For my wholesale line, I always use the prealloyed grain. Now if you
want to experiment with color and tones, alloying your own defiantly
can create some nice colors, and hell, it is more fun in a metal
junkie kind of way.

Eric


#5

Thanks Greg for all that much needed advice. You mentioned Boraxing
the crucible and maybe I’m doing that wrong too. the Borax I have
says to put a tablespoon of it into the crucible and heat the
crucible. thats all well and good but it just sits in the bottom and
melts. Is there a way to get it to stick to the side or another
process that is better? I was planning on getting a Graphite crucible
for my gold melting. Do I still need to Borax it?

Thanks again
Dale Carr


#6

Call the Forum Police - Dale asked a question!!! HAHAHA… Although
we do buy 24k for all of our gold alloys, and I mix my own 18k alloy
mix, my suggestion for a newbie would be to just buy it already made
up. Why? Your savings in buying 24k is going to be tiny for the small
quantities you’re likely to be using, but more importantly, it
injects too many variables. You’re going to have plenty on your hands
just learning “The gold thing” without having to figure out if your
problems are because of your torch, your crucible, your burnout or
your alloy mix. Do one thing at a time - familiarize yourself with
existing quality alloys, and then branch out into making them
yourself…


#7

There is nothing to be afraid of you should consider just using pure
gold (24K) and and alloy, at first you may just want to buy pre
karated grain but in the short-long run you will be amazed how much
money you can save…


#8

Dale,

When I get a new crucible I generally charge it while I have it in a
crucible handle. This way I can turn it from side to side while I am
heating it and adding borax into it so I get coverage over a larger
area.

After I have the crucible fairly well charged I then place it in my
casting machine for use. The first 5 or 10 times I cast with it I
will use a very small pinch of Borax on the molten metal. I generally
use my flask tongs to rock the crucible a little before casting.

After 5 or 10 castings I only use additional Borax when I see that
my melted metal needs a little cleaning but this is very rarely.

In time there will be a little buildup over a larger area of your
crucible.

Although some people love the Graphite Crucibles I have always used
the ceramic ones and wouldn’t consider changing since I have had such
good results with them.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark
email: greg@demarkjewelry.com
Website: http://www.demarkjewelry.com
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry


#9

Dale,

the Borax I have says to put a tablespoon of it into the crucible
and heat the crucible. thats all well and good but it just sits in
the bottom and melts. Is there a way to get it to stick to the side
or another process that is better? I was planning on getting a
Graphite crucible for my gold melting. Do I still need to Borax it? 

Rather than putting the borax in first, heat the crucible and then
slowly sprinkle powdered borax on the crucible. It will stick to the
sides that way. Continue to heat until the borax glazes. You can use
boric acid powder, too.

Also, my advise is not to use a graphite crucible if you are torch
melting. Graphite crucibles will act like a heat sink and draw away
heat from your metal. A standard crucible, used with a proper sized
neutral flame and metal protected with borax is the way to go.
Graphite ingot molds are pretty nice, though.

Larry


#10

Welcome Dale.

Orchid is THE dream forum for thousands of us at all skill levels. I
heard about it when there were only about 225-250 folks on the list.
Back then we printed out really good info and saved it in loose leaf
binders. From then until now Orchid has always been about questions
and answers. Looking back I remember one particular series of Q&As
with a college student taking her first jewelry course. You could
actually feel her growing throughout the school session as did we
all.

Regarding casting in gold, have you considered experimenting a
little with some gold pieces you have but no longer want to keep? I’m
no metallurgist, but I truly learned a lot with cast offs. This kind
of experimenting gave me even more questions to ask and took away
that “Oh, my Heavens! This stuff is really GOLD”.

Just my two cents worth,
Joyce


#11

Hey Dale,

I too, felt intimidated by all the technical expertise on this
Orchid forum, but everyone has something to contribute, no matter
what your experience level.

Regarding alloying your own metal, I wholeheartedly endorse the
idea. I do it all the time in my studio, and teach my students to do
the same. It is not rocket science, by any means, if you have a
calculator and an accurate scale. If you have a supply of pure silver
and 24K gold, and assorted alloys, you can make as much (or as
little) of a specific amount of any carat and color of gold, or
sterling silver, with which to cast or fabricate. Lots of advantages.

What you will need to consider is the type of alloys you use.
Basically, there are 2 types of alloy. One is for casting, but
generally, in my experience, it doesn’t roll or draw well. The
"rolling" alloy is designed for rolling and drawing, and it casts
well, too. So I only buy the rolling alloy, so I can do everything
with it. If you are determined to just buy the casting grain, I would
check to make sure it is an easy working alloy, if you do decide to
pour an ingot and make your own wire, as an example. I once cast a
ring in a gold “casting” alloy, and the metal was so tough, my stone
setter couldn’t raise beads in the metal to set diamonds…

—Jay Whaley UCSD Craft Center