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Wax Model Making


#1

First of all, I joined this forum about 2 months ago and I am in awe
of the unselfish willingness of all members to provide their
valuable and insightful responses. My thanks and congratulations go
out to Hanuman and all the sponsors.

I have noticed that there are several model makers who frequently
contribute to this group and was wondering if I could get some advise
from them and any others that may have suggestions. After working for
almost 30 years in a non-jewellery related industry, I was downsized
another “desk job”, but decided I would do what I like doing. I have
taken some jewellery courses over the past 12 months and worked at
home doing small custom silver work. My real interest though lies in
wax model making. I have been a wood carver for several years, and
recently had the opportunity to produce animal wax models (dogs,
cats, horses etc.) for a client. I have made several other models of
rings, pendants, etc. which I believe are as good as some
"professional" pieces I have seen. I know that this is what I want to
do, can do it well and will get better as I produce more pieces. This
is were my strengths and talents lie and is my new vocation. But,
where does one start to make this a viable and reliable source of
income? I am also 50 years old, but feel this should not make a
difference (most days I still feel like I’m 25, except when my knee
acts up!) Are there apprenticeship programmes for model makers? Are
most model makers self employed or are there “factory” type jobs? If
you are self employed at what point do you start approaching people
and try to compete. I am currently in the process of putting together
a “portfolio” of work (digital photos, wax models and metal castings)
so that I can start approaching companies and individuals for
assignments or employment. I would appreciate any comments or advise
from such a diverse audience as this forum offers. Oh, by the way, if
it helps and there are others in my area that can provide local
advise, I live in the Toronto, Canada vicinity. Thanks for listening
Richard Dubiel @Dubiel_Design_Studio


#2

Dear Richard, I made a fairly ok living do model making for jewelry
stores and small manufactures and for the figurine industry for
several years. I used a material called File a Wax and used carved
it with steel burrs of all shapes and a lot of engravers, files and
dental tools. There are a few books on wax carving but I was
fortunate enough to take a class from the queen of carving Jacki, in
1980 at GIA when they were in Santa Monica. I had always been
considered a fast carve and had taught classes in wax carving and
after taking her class for two weeks my time was cut in half and I
would be glad to share the process with you or anyone who is
interested. It is fairly direct and simple once you learn the steps.

You can look what I am doing now at cynthiathomasdesigns.com . I
stopped doing so much jewelry and am now into Larger bronze work but
I keep my hand in the jewelry work.

I live in Mendocino County, Northern California. I am thinking of
teaching some classes again.

Cynthia Thomas
John’s wife


#3

Dear Mr Dubiel, It is because of the Orchid group that I decided
nearly 3 years ago to return to school after my forced retirement. I
am 57 years of age and learned of the Orchid group soon after its
entrance into the internet . I would make four recommendations as I
have learned much from my recent experiences.

Get a good chair
Get a good bench.
Get a good lighting system

These items can be purchased used or in case of the bench be made
for a modest sum. Have some stimulating music to listen to. This is
important also .

Purchase your tools as you need them , do not be afraid to make your
own or flea market them. Do not scrimp on your flexshaft . Your wax
pen can be purchased or self made.

Learn to cast your work so you can follow up on your efforts. Silicon
Bronze with the addition of 4 % Silver was what we trained on for two
semesters ( second & third ). The Silver was added to increase the
fluidity of the melt and its casting characteristics.

The Silicon Bronze was available in the form of 1/8 " X 36 " rods. I
believe this was from some welding supply company sources. I think it
came in 20 lb. bundles . I will find out the source so I can share .
The working characteristics were most similar to 10 K gold ( still
tougher ). We learned to finish it and set stones in it. Bright
cutting and Pave is much tougher with it than in gold. It was a real
pleasure working in 14 K Yellow and White for our fourth semester.

You might want to ask traveling sales persons about making some well
finished Silicon Bronze rings with C Z stones set in.

These are a low cost means of showing a line of jewelry . Some sales
persons let it be known that if you steal the samples, your fingers
will turn green and you will have committed a felony for little
profit.

We did not try to re melt the Silicon Bronze / Silver alloy. It could
be used again for larger art metal castings in sand casting . ( I
hope as that is my intention. )

With all my efforts I would not trade them for siting at the house
waiting for the world to start. Well come and have fun.

This is a community , We support one another . Hanuman makes a good
mayor.

ROBB.


#4
 I have made several other models of rings, pendants, etc. which I
believe are as good as some "professional" pieces I have seen. .
This is were my strengths and talents lie and is my new vocation.
But, where does one start to make this a viable and reliable source
of income? 

richard,since you didn’t get much response to your post, and if
you would like to know what they all think and know, the best thing
that you can do for yourself at this point, if you are going to try
to be a modelmaker in the jewelry industry is to be an excellent
jeweler. because no one will let you in if you are not. I am an
excellent wax carver, and wood mind you, but to a foreman of a
major, high end modelmaking dept in any jewelry co., you have only
30% when you are only an excellent wax carver, you must be an
excellent setting maker and solderer, etc., and must be able to
fabricate extremely well with metal, these things, i am not yet,
and that is where much of my downfall lies. It might not take an
incredible amount of smarts to be all that, but it does take hours
and hours of practice to acheive the coordination, realization,
order, stamina, good habits, timing, etc. You either learn it from
the bottom of the ladder in a jewelry firm, learn it in a school,
etc, orderly and experienced production(as in many pieces, parts,
etc) skills are also essential to these people. These people being
all jewelry stores(repairs, construction of designs with or without
stones), and jewelry companies with modelmaking depts. Yes there
are jobs in the industry for people who are only wax carvers, but
they comprise far less than 1/3, so you would be locked out of 2/3s
of your attempted employs, approximately. dp


#5

DP I do not really agree with you. Manufacturing jewellers are always
looking for good wax carvers and designers. Shop yourself around to
all the local jewellers. Many jewellers can’t carve anything. Talk to
as many as possible and work on a contract basis.If you are good I
believe you will find lots of work. Jerome