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Wax Carving


#1

Reading some of the threads about wax carving makes me want to
try it again. My first and only experience (so far) with it was
somewhat frustrating and somewhat encouraging.

To whit:

Several of us in my “silversmithing” class expressed an interest
in learning to work with wax and sending it off to have it cast
(casting is a different class). All of us in the class had been
taking at least a couple of years so we were beyond the rudiments
of figuring out what to design and bringing it to fruition. That
is until we met the wax monster.

It’s one thing to take sheet metal and saw and then solder and
add on to make a piece that resembles what you intended. It’s
another thing to take a round of blue wax and cut and file and
scrape away until you have something resembling a ring. There was
more than one of us (me included) grumbling about the process. I
kept paraphrasing Michelangelo by saying, “I’m just removing all
the wax that isn’t a ring. I’m just removing all the wax that
isn’t a ring.” It didn’t seem to help. Maybe because I didn’t
have a clear image of what the ring should look like so I wasn’t
sure when I had removed all the excess. One of our compatriates
never did finish his, and he is the one I considered the most
gifted in design. He just found the whole process too
frustrating.

I still wear the rings I made. They look just fine to others.
They make me smile when I look at them because I remember what I
learned about myself and the process of wax carving. I still have
a piece of wax I could make another ring from and do want to try
again, I just don’t have a design in mind. I look at the Swest
catalog occasionally to get ideas of what could be done. There’s
a stone I want to set in a ring but cannot come up with a design
I like. Maybe casting is the answer. I don’t know; but am willing
to wait until I’m happy with whatever design will work (and it’s
been 3 or more years now).

Well, I’ve taken up enough bandwidth. Thanks for letting me
reminisce.

Sharon


#2

Reading some of the threads about wax carving makes me want to
try it again. My first and only experience (so far) with it was
somewhat frustrating and somewhat encouraging.

It’s another thing to take a round of blue wax and cut and file
and scrape away until you have something resembling a ring. There
was more than one of us (me included) grumbling about the
process. I kept paraphrasing Michelangelo by saying, “I’m just
removing all the wax that isn’t a ring. I’m just removing all the
wax that isn’t a ring.” It didn’t seem to help.

The are 2 wax processes- carving is one of them. The other
process is building up- wax sheet, wire, adding melted wax with a
wax extruder, spatula or other tool. Carving an intanglio mold in
something and pouring wax into the mold. Lots of ways to get to
the piece you want. My favorite wax is no longer made- to the
point that the supplier never remembers selling it. Just remember
that Michelangelo’s childhood training was in a goldsmithing
house…

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


#3

Sharon,

Don’t five up on the wax! The first few pieces I did were
incredibly simple and they took me forever. One thing to keep in
mind is that wax is cheap and if you really mess up you can just
start again without having to scrap $50+ precious metal. I
usually do my wax work when I’m too brain dead for metal or stone
setting.

The trick to going from idea to model is to draw out your design
actual size and transfer the drawing to your wax. This can be
done a number of ways. I draw on tracing paper and then glue the
drawing to the wax using a glue stick. Then take a pin and
piercing a dotted line along the lines of your drawing, making
holes in the wax. Remove the paper and, using corn starch
wrapped in a little wad of cheesecloth, dust the surface of the
wax. Wipe off and you should leave a dotted outline of your
design. Depending on the complexity of the design I may use a
graver to trace over the drawing, leaving more defined lines in
the wax. Sometimes I just draw right on the wax with a scribe.
If your piece is very three dimensional, you may have to repeat
the transfer process at various stages as you remove wax. Of
course, there are those people out there who can go directly from
the brain to a finished piece of wax, but they have probably been
doing it for some time.

When you’re finishing the surface of the wax, keep in mind those
areas that may be either more difficult or much easier to finish
in the cast piece. There have been times that I was in a hurry to
get the piece to the caster and didn’t clean up some hard to
reach places. Boy did I pay for it in the time it took me to
finish the gold. On the other hand, some thin sections may be
easier to sand and finish in metal that in wax. I’ve also spent
too much time repairing thin wax sections that I could have just
finished off in gold in a matter of minutes.

Hope this helps. LOL

Sharon Ziemek


#4

I just started working with wax in my jewlery class last week,
and I realized how helpful a Tjanting might be. A tijanting is a
low-tech tool used for batik. The tijantig is somewhat like a
pen that deposits wax threw a small tube. You dip the
tijanting into a pot of melted wax, and a resivuar holds the wax
and deposits it threw the small tube. It takes a lot of practice
to gain skill with this, but I think it would be usfull for
drawing small paterns, filling in hard to reach areas, and other
stuff. I know of one company that sell’s Tijantings. .

                   DHARMA TRADING CO.
                         POB 150916 
                   SAN RAFAEL, CA 94915
     Tel: (800) 542-5227 :: Tel: (415) 456-7657 :: Fax: (415)

456-8747
e-mail:catalog@dharmatrading.com

Search the internet under batik for other suppliers.
Isaac Coblentz


#5

Hi Isaac,

That sounds very similar to the stylus used to created Ukranian
Easter eggs. They’re intricate decorated eggs that use a beeswax
resist and very intense “analine” dyes to create a built-up color
design (moving from lighter dyes to darker). Afer the last dye,
the egg is gently warmed near a candle and the wax is wiped off,
revealing the design.

I’ve thought the same thing about it’s potential in jewelry wax
work. I haven’t tried it yet. It seems that the beeswax would
be too thin, but I’m curious how other jewelry waxes might
respond.

Essentially this stylus is a copper or brass cone mounted
through a wooden dowel about the diameter of a pencil. The cone
is about an inch long, 1/4" diameter at the top and pinhole at
the bottom. Fastented into the dowel by wrapping with copper
wire in an “X” pattern.

A comapny in NYC, Serna I believe is the name, can provide all
the supplies, indluding dyes. I can locate the address if anyone
is interested!

Dave Sebaste


#6

Hi Isaac,

That sounds very similar to the stylus used to created Ukranian
Easter eggs. They’re intricate decorated eggs that use a beeswax
resist and very intense “analine” dyes to create a built-up color
design (moving from lighter dyes to darker). Afer the last dye,
the egg is gently warmed near a candle and the wax is wiped off,
revealing the design.

I’ve thought the same thing about it’s potential in jewelry wax
work. I haven’t tried it yet. It seems that the beeswax would
be too thin, but I’m curious how other jewelry waxes might
respond.

Essentially this stylus is a copper or brass cone mounted
through a wooden dowel about the diameter of a pencil. The cone
is about an inch long, 1/4" diameter at the top and pinhole at
the bottom. Fastented into the dowel by wrapping with copper
wire in an “X” pattern.

A comapny in NYC, Serna I believe is the name, can provide all
the supplies, indluding dyes. I can locate the address if anyone
is interested!

Dave Sebaste