Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Start


#1

Hi,

I’m looking for a little help in getting started in jewlery
making. I have done a very limited amount of jewlery making in
college and now I’m trying to be a little more accomplished, with
hopes to sell some someday.

I am making wax models and my dad, who is a dentist, has
supplied me with wax to start with. But one of my questions is:
what are the varieties of wax and where are the suppliers? What
kinds of wax do I ask for? Right now I’m using some pink flat
sheets to use as the basic form and some green sticks to add more
shapes to it. The pink sheets are a little thin. Are there
thicker sheets available? Is there better wax for carving?

That’s a lot of questions. But I’m sure I have much to learn.

Thank you for helping, and your web page.

Brent Long
Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Gillette, Wyoming


#2

what are the varieties of wax and where are the suppliers? What
kinds of wax do I ask for? Right now I’m using some pink flat
sheets to use as the basic form and some green sticks to add more
shapes to it. The pink sheets are a little thin. Are there
thicker sheets available? Is there better wax for carving?

The best wax for carving is a plastic based wax from several
manufacturers- Ferris and Matt are the two that come to mind.
They carve (sort of like soap) and the different colors have
slightly different properties- I mostly use the blue Ferris wax.
They can be machined at low speed, sanded filed and the surface
can be polished with a carful application of heat.

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr
http://rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton


#3

Hello, Brent,

Yes there are much better forms of wax for carving than the
sheet you are using. Don’t give away your dental tools, though,
they are helpful. You may want to start in your yellow pages
under jeweler’s supplies to see if there are any local places to
buy wax. Usually these people can also give you some advice.

Try any local craft quilds to get the names of people in you
area who might be able to mentor for you. The Library is also a
good source for reference books which have sections on wax
carving. Check out the Orchid archives for recently described
books. Jim Marker here on Orchid may be able to list several
from the GIA bookstore for you. I’m not sure, but I lthink his
e-mail is jmarker@gia.org.

One supplier you can contact for wax if there is no one local
is: Rio Grande, Albuquerque, NM 800-545-6566

Good Luck,

Sharon Ziemek
GoldStones, Inc.
Stratham, NH


#4

Dear Brent: Here is some info on waxing. I hope you can deal
with my rambling writing style.

I have been “waxing” for about 10 years. There are many types
of wax to use, and several techniques. I primarily use the
"buildup style" where you add molten wax to the piece you are
working on; it is an additive technique. The wax is usually
softer and melts at a lower temp than “Carving” wax. You have a
small “pot” of wax that is molten, and use different tools to
pick it up and apply it to your workpiece. My favorite tool is a
7 inch long 3/8 inch diameter wooden dowel with a heavy needle
(about 1/2 mm diameter) on one end with its end rounded off, and
a flattened 6 penny nail with a sort of a rounded chisel end on
it on the other. You need a bunsen burner, or a alchohol lamp to
heat up the needle/tool which you pick up wax with. The heated
needle/tool keeps the wax melted so you can apply it. You can
make a stand that fits above your alchohol lamp to set your wax
pot on to melt your wax. I use a small tin, about 1" in
diameter. It holds enough wax for several rings, and heats up
fast. You could use your pink sheet wax as a base, wrapped
around a finger sized cylinder, and build up wax on that. This
type of wax usually comes in broken up bulk blocks (chunks about
1" thick and of various sizes up to about 10"), or it also comes
in small pellets, and is made for a wax injector pot used for
shooting hot wax into rubber molds. I like the chunks because I
can carve them if I want to. Usual cost is about 5-8 dollars a
pound. Some suppliers will send you small samples of each to see
what you like the best. My favorite is from “Frei & Borel”,
Oakland, CA, and is called “Sierra Orange”. It is medium soft,
is fairly durable, (wax is brittle, and in a cool climate like
WY, it can break easily when dropped.), and flows well. To
smooth up your wax you can use files, then #220 garnet sandpaper.
To give the final finish, I use a citrus based cleaning solution
called “Citri-solv”. It smells like citrus, and is not toxic.
You apply it sparingly to a “Q-tip” and rub the wax with it. You
can also use lighter fluid, but it is more toxic. If you are
using different types of wax on the same model, you have to be
careful because they dissolve at different rates, and you can get
an undercut effect. Try to use the Q-tip sparingly. The wax is
ready to sprue at this point.

The second technique is wax “carving”. It is a subtractive
technique. You start with a block of wax and carve away what you
dont want. You can use any tools that will work, files,
sharpened/shaped nails, Dental tools (nice to have a dentist in
the family!), flexshaft, etc… It probably takes less to get
started with the carving technique. Hard carving wax melts at a
much higher temp, and doesnt flow well. It comes in tubes ready
to cut a ring off of. In sheets, thick and thin, and bars, round
and square. Usually in about pound packages.

As alluded to above, you can also combine the two. I like to
carve the softer wax to a point and then do some detail work with
the buildup style, using the same kind of wax. This comes in
handy when seating stones, as for me it is easier to build up
around a stone than it is to cut away a perfectly fitting seat.

Have fun!

Stephen Bargsten
73643.1716@compuserve.com


#5

Dear Brent: Here are some more tidbits about the use of wax:
there is also a sticky brown wax, that can be warmed up in the
hands, or under warm water. It then can be worked like clay for
sculpture. Just be careful that you don’t trap air pockets inside,
and remember that your final sculpture will be 10-++ times as
heavy as the wax, depending on the type of wax you use. It comes
in long, square sticks. There is something called "sticky wax"
that will hold wax parts together, as it melts at a low
temperature. There is a purple wax, comes in small sticks,
that is great for dripping or drawing small details. One of my
favorites is a water soluble wax, which comes in about a one lb.
block, that can be carved, or even heated and melted, and poured
into a simple mold. (like half a ping pong ball.) When it
hardens, in can be carved, and then coated with a none-soluble
wax, leaving a few uncoated places. Then if you soak it all in
water overnight, the water soluble wax dissolves out, leaving a
hollow shape, great for beads! As for the alcohol lamp, I buy
the alcohol not in a jewelry supply store, as it is expensive
that way, but in gallon cans in a home supply or paint store. It
is denatured alcohol. There are also electric wax extruders,
which take pellets of different kinds of wax. There are
different types of tips, like the ones used to make flowers,
etc. with frosting on cakes. You can make all sorts of
interesting patterns and designs with it. The most important
thing to remember is to have fun with your designs. The next
most important thing is that it is far easier to fix mistakes and
refine your designs in wax than it is to do the same thing in
metal, although some of the final finishing and carving can only
be done after casting. Good luck, Foxy


#6

Brent- of course I meant the final cast weight will depend upon
the type of metal you use, not the wax you use. Sorry…


#7

Foxy wrote that; " There are also electric wax extruders,

which take pellets of different kinds of wax. There are
different types of tips, like the ones used to make flowers, etc.
with frosting on cakes."

I think such a device would be very useful, but I don’t ever
recall seeing one for sale. I made one myself one time, which
worked out very well for making round wax wire, but making a
little star- or flower- shaped hole in the end of it was too much
for me. Could you let us know who sells such an extruder that
would make different wire shapes, similar to those shapes made by
a cake decorator? Thanks,

Neal Nye
@nnye


#8

I didn’t mean that the tips for the was extruder had different
shapes, only the idea that you could force out the wax that way.
I don’t see any reason that we couldn’t make the tips ourselves,
or at the very least, buy the metal cake decorating tips and
adapt them for the extruder. When I dig out this extruder, I’ll
let you know the maker.I don’t use it very often. I think it was
by the same people who make the Matt equipment. Foxy