Mitsuro-hikime is simply a pliable csting wax. It roughly translates
to "drawing in beeswax texture". You can make it as its an easy
process: I have made a wax for casting like this for years. Easy to
Ingredients easy to find. as long as you live near a piney grove. or
even a few very old pine trees. or want to order some someone else
has gathered. however I rather enjoy harvesting this and gum copal at
the same time. great for a few hours outing and so many uses it's
mind boggling !!!...
To make it:
Gather your own pine pitch- the very hardened dark stuff- no opaque
yellow or amber/clear-ish amber coloured stuff. has to be a hardened
lump or mass- I usually bring a gallon zip type bag and fill it in 1
1/2 hours or less from trees that are at least 100 years old. there
may be some bits of bark stuck to the back of it (as it comes off
the tree, or in it as other resin flows over the season before's
output). If you like wear a pair of nitrile gloves to keep the
sticky stuff you didn't notice from getting on your hands. The cured
hard pitch comes off readily and is fairly heavy. Newer pitch/resin
isn't worth collecting from the tree unless you want to burn it for
incense- it takes too long to age into "readiness" to harvest it.
and there is usually a copious amount on any tree that hasn't been
harvested in years. You may find it laying on the ground under the
tree in nodules as large as golf balls if that's the case.
I use something called Sticktite sticky wax - a 1/2 lb. bag goes for
about $2.50 USD. Kerr sticky wax is available from almost every
vendor that sells consumables for jeweller's (Rio's sticky waxes run
about 12 dollars for 6 ounces to start!)
An 8 lb slab of soft McCaughin wax runs about $30 dollars unless you
want a larger amount...
However there are a number of all-in-one waxes, including a melt and
pourable wax or a reclamation wax for slush/shell casting (a process
nearly as ancient as Homo habilis) that costs about 60 dollars for a
50 lb. bag..(this is pliable at about 170 degrees Fahrenheit and
contains micro-crystalline wax too). It makes a great bronze casting
medium as well..
Or you can cut to the chase and just buy "Premiere Backup Wax" - it
runs $ 13.50 for a five lb. block ! It is very much like taffy
/putty and will hold its shape once "worked" into the final textural
design you want within the objectives of the "Mitsuro-hikime"
technique. It can be used as a wax hardener if needed when using, say
a bunch of overly soft matt wax scraps from carving projects gone
awry - or just sliced off, or Kerr, Wolf, etc. pre-cut waxes of
different hardnesses, forms and colours, or any carving waxes
containing lots of micro-crystalline wax ! Another thing to keep in
mind is safety- melting some kinds of waxes will catch fire easily if
not recommended for melting, but you do it anyway. so no open fire
melting - particularly if you make it harder with the addition of a
bit more pine pitch to achieve the striations in the compound that
you are after to start with as you develop the rod or stock you want.
It is a fun technique for those that are looking for a new idea for a
collection but for everyday i personally have other things that
interest me more than developing a patterened wax that I will then
pattern- On the other hand, it's a lot like Mokume-gane in that once
you have the billet or rod made, you can then easily produce a model
for casting that resembles mokume-gane and can be poured with alloys
almost simultaneously (requires extra hands and ladles) instead of
precious metals that yield some potentially creative designs as well
as for casting larger pieces..
The company I find cheapest (but have no endorsement deal with !!!)
They have a wide range of consumables for jeweller's and sculptors,
foundries and other casting methods, as well as some hard-to-find
items like my favourite shellac and metal powders, the largest
selection of bone tools anyone could want, primers for metals and
interesting products not found in the regular vendor's catalogues
for metals that are to be outdoors or pre-priming before patination
for indoor pieces to preparing metals after repair for outdoor
placements 9 i. e.
park benches, restoration of monuments, any preservation or
conservation jobbing etc.) Their prices are some of the best on the
web for things like mould release spray (12 bucks compared to almost
50 at Rio!) and other treasures...
Nonetheless for Mitsuro-hikime you can get the supplies you need
here for less... enjoy! rer