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Wax carving


Hi Folks Anyone out there got any sound infromation in creating
jewelry with wax ? I understand there is a wax gun and wax blocks
available. anyone got any experience with this medium? Thanks in



Hi Cleo, Here is a short summary of waxes and techniques. Many have
spent their creative life learning how to create in waxes.

There are several ways to create jewelry with wax. I am sure others
have other ways to create in wax.

  1. Build up. Wax is melted and added to create a design. The
    traditional way to do this is to heat a dental tool in an alcohol
    lamp, touch wax to add wax to the hot tool, heat slightly again and
    then apply wax to the project. Very slow process. There are heated
    tools that speed up the process. The best tools to add wax in a
    build up project are no longer available. These tools contained a
    supply of wax in the tool and a trigger which allowed the wax to
    flow. This process is similar to drawing with wax in a three
    dimensional form.

  2. Fabrication. In this process the project is created by taking
    various waxes and forming them into the shape desired. Waxes can be
    cut into various shapes and added together.

  3. Carving. The project is carved from solid pieces of wax. Any
    carving method can be used. The waxes normally used for carving can
    be drilled, sanded, filed cut with a saw and ground with a burr.
    These waxes have no sticky characteristics.

  4. Modeling. Soft waxes are modeled into the shape of the project.

  5. Injection. There are waxes that can be melted and injected into
    flexible molds. This process allows one to reproduce a project. The
    process requires an injection wax pot and a method to create rubber

  6. Combination. Any and all three methods can be used to create a

Waxes. There are so many types of waxes a person probably will never
be able to use them all. You can buy various thickness of sheet wax,
rods and tubes, modeling waxes, water soluble waxes, carving waxes,
build up waxes and injection waxes. All of these types of waxes can
be purchased with different characteristics in different colors and
hardness or flexibility.

The advantage of wax design is the ability to create textures and
designs that would be difficult to create in metal fabrication. Wax
fabrication to create a project that could be created out of metal is
a waste of time.

Mistakes in all wax projects can be corrected. Wax color has no
affect on the project. Each manufacture colors his waxes to identify
difference in characteristics. One vendors red wax might be the same
as the green wax manufactured by another vendor.

The selection of wax to be used and the type of fabrication for a
project will depend on the design of the project.

Rio Grande’s catalog shows the many types of waxes. The catalog can
be obtained by calling 1-800-545-6566.

Good luck lee


Hello Cleo!

Just visit any jewelry supplier. Wax carving is one popular way of
making jewelry for those pieces that you just can’t make out of metal
sheets, wires or grain. Look in the yellow pages under “jewelry
supplies” and you’ll find wax sheets, blocks, wire, ring tubes and
bracelet blanks. You’ll also find wax guns and all the tools you need
for wax carving. If you need more help, just write back!

Benoit Hamel


Cleo, I’d recommend going to your local public library and looking up
jewelry making. Many books cover a wide range of techniques and you’ll
want to look up lost wax casting. There you will read about a few basic
tools, (alcohol lamp, and dental tools). You can buy a variety of
waxes from Rio Grande tools catelog. Call 1-800-545-6566 to get their
tools catelog. They will also have the lamp and tools to use. Then all
you need is someone to cast for you. You may find someone locally to
do this or again, your fellow orchid members can do this for you.
You’ll probably want to have your items cast in silver. I was
explaining to a friend that I make jewelry starting with wax and cast
it in gold and silver and she listened to me explain the process and
then said that she wouldn’t want to wear wax jewelry. I suppose she
still thinks I make jewelry out of wax and spray paint it gold or
silver. This would be a mess on hot days wouldn’t it. Annette


I am teaching myself wax carving and have gotten the hang of creating
organic designs. However, I need to create a wax master for a pendant
that is all geometric, i.e. circles and straight lines. I attached a
picture of the unfinished silver version I made a few years ago. I
tried using a swivel knife to cut 20 & 24 guage green sheet wax. Too
much distortion, can’t get straight lines. Had trouble getting a nice
clean circle, too, even using dividers. The silver one I made from
pre-cut discs, one solid and the second one with a hand cut center
opening. I need this for an order…HELP!!!

D. Barnum

Attachment Removed


There are many ways to help your issues, and you should get all of
them around here, I’d say. If it was me, I’d probably use a steel
rule, X-acto knife or similar, and dividers. Put the rule on the wax,
and SCRIBE it with the knife. Same with dividers - don’t cut it, mark
it. Or use templates, if you can. Then cut the wax with scissors or
shears. If you have to use a knife, don’t try to do it all in one
cut, and then just rub down the raised edge. You might try putting the
wax in a refrigerator, too - freezer might be too cold, or maybe not.


I carve wax as well as make handmade items for my models.

I was told many years ago by a very experienced goldsmith that if it
can be handmade that should be the first choice in making a model.

If making the item by hand is not an option you may want to consider
a hard wax over a soft wax.

You did not mention the size of the circle with the open center but
you may want to look at the ring tube wax to see if the size would
work for you.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark


Clean geometry is a pain!! I suggest that you make a model in silver
[some use nickel silver], and then make a mold from this finished
model. You can get better detail of curve etc using metal, at least I
could. I could never get the hang of crispness with wax always
digging out too much metal or filing off and edge. If you have to use
wax use purple or dark green, I think that they are the hardest.

Good luck.


You can make another crisp one in silver and take a mold off of
that. There is nothing that says you have to have a wax model to
start casting a design.

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA


Hi Debbie;

... I need to create a wax master for a pendant that is all
geometric, i.e. circles and straight lines. I tried using a swivel
knife to cut 20 & 24 guage green sheet wax. Too much distortion 

You could, if you had a fine touch, carve that out of hard, carvable
wax, but making sheets that thin would be a test. I think the way I
would approach this is to make a prototype out of sheet metal,
slightly thicker than the desired end product, and make a rubber mold
of it. You’ll never get a tight product using softer wax. Another
suggestion, maybe you could work up a model using plastic, and make
an RTV mold of that. I’ve even made models out of plastic and burned
them out, but if you do this, make sure you have proper ventilation.

David L. Huffman


There are times when it is easier to just fabricate the piece rather
than carving wax, it sounds like this might be one of those times.

Bill Wismar


No one else seems to have mentioned this so I will chime in here
with a little wax bench tip. If you need hard sheet wax (something
you cannot seem to find) here is a little trick.

  1. Take two pieces of had plastic like plexiglas or masonite or
    phenolic, even glass, anything with a flat shiny surface (or a
    texture if that is what you want). I use plexi about 4-6 inches

  2. Tape or super glue a nickel, dime or penny or whatever is the
    thickness you desire at the four corners of one of the pieces of
    plexi… I use coins because they a standard and convenient.

  3. Spray the surfaces (one surfaces on each piece one of them has
    the coins) of the plexi with silicone mold release.

  4. melt some hard wax of your choice either in a double boiler or
    wax pot or whatever.

  5. pour a small amount of wax on the sprayed surface of one of the
    pieces of plexi and while still hot press the other sheet down on
    top of it.

  6. after a few seconds (depending on the wax, temp etc, but when
    cooled) separate the two plexi pieces and you have a nice slick
    consistent sheet of hard wax.

I also use plasti-wax injection wax for this processes but prefer
the hard purple wax my self.

You can make sheets any thickness and even with texture as long as
you use a mold release and the wax doesn’t stick. One other thing,
the spacers at the corners are optional, for really thin wax I don’t
use spacers at all.

For texture I have used pieces of exotic leather, textured plastic,
even wood with a nice grain. Experiment and let your imagination run
wild, it is fun. I have even used sheets of metal that have been
chilled in the freezer, they give a really strange flow and chill
pattern. Have fun. One caution though don’t let the hot wax drip on
your skin.

Frank Goss


I use a large burr in my Foredom hand piece mounted in a Foredom
drill press to mill carving wax to the thickness I need for my

Once the wax is milled I use a fine file to smooth off the mill
marks than sand the surface with well worn 600 grit sandpaper.

The design can be drawn on paper which is then rubber cemented to
the wax. The design can be transfered to the wax by tracing the
design with a sharp stylus.

The design on the wax can be cut with a wax cutting jewelry saw, cut
with a small burr in the handpiece or filed.

Photos available if requested.

Lee Epperson

I am teaching myself wax carving and have gotten the hang of
creating organic designs. However, I need to create a wax master
for a pendant that is all geometric, i.e. circles and straight

This is, perhaps, a job better fabricated. Even in fabrication
circles are problematic and require good sawing and filing skills.

Sam Patania, Tucson


many celestial bodies ago, i was approached to execute a model for a
bay area co that turned out 2 b a great international success.
laurel berch(sp) started literally on the streets of san francisco.
her 3 main tools were a ballpein hammer, a cast iron skillet and a
heart full of chutzpa. as far as materials, i can only hypothesize
that …silver wire. beads, and whatever man…were her raw

as a recent graduate of a local state college, with a ba in art…(do
i hear any black sheep our there?)… emphasis in metal arts, i
thought that i could knock this puppy out of the park, and into the
bay…In addition 2 my previously mentioned sheepskin, i also earned
a ca teaching credential, issued for LIFE, and signed by none other
than gov ronald regan (no rogaine 4 this dude) and 4 you bay area
folk, wilson riles…i digress.

for a week i carved…with cellinei on the brain.unfortunately, at
the time, i possessed the hand of a neophyte who thought that by
carving,dripping wax and casting pieces, for approximately 4 years,
somehow brought me into the fold of the master jewelers circle. What
a rude awakening…

i did not get the commission.the person who did, fabricated a model
out of, in this case silver, over sized 2 compensate 4 shrinkage,
and presented this as the job requested.

a few months later, i had the great opportunity 2 work,as an
apprentice, 2 one of the bay areas greatest manufacturing jewelry
co. the name of this stellar family owned business is Van Craeynest
Co. check out their web site. what Larry Craeynest taught me approx
30 yrs ago is still a major part of my teaching applications, as
well as my life…Thank u Larry, Roger and Theodore…

in order 2 play the song, it helps 2 know the chords. practice is
also very important. don’t ever loose your heart…remember the
little girl w/ the ruby shoes?

i found my heart in sf as a ny transplant…that’s another story.



I am teaching myself wax carving and have gotten the hang of
creating organic designs. However, I need to create a wax master
for a pendant that is all geometric, i.e. circles and straight

This is, perhaps, a job better fabricated. Even in fabrication
circles are problematic and require good sawing and filing skills. 

However, there are certain mechanical aids to fabrication that might
help you out some–like a good set of circle cutters, or an excellent
bench shear. I know nothing about wax, so I don’t know whether
there’s anything comparable to these for carvers. But I do know that
filing a straight edge (I gave up trying to file circles) can be
facilitated by using a good size flat file: put it on the bench, and
move the metal against it, rather than the other way around.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to take up fabrication, and
what you want to do is difficult in wax, why not try metal clay? You
can get particularly crisp edges with metal clay paper, and you can
use cutters from a cooking store, or a ceramics supply house, to make
perfect circles.

Lisa Orlando
Albion, CA, US