A few times a year I'll teach a small class how to carve a wax ring and then I will cast it in Sterling Silver. Then in the 2nd class I teach how to polish your piece by hand. Below is essentially what I teach in the first class published for the hobbyist.
Bellchamber Rings will cast your wax but you have to provide us with the Silver or Gold to cast it. We charge $40 to cast a single piece plus shipping.
Email us with any questions you have.
Tips for Carving Wax.
Tips for Carving wax. By Jason Bellchamber www.bellchamber.net
So you've just bought your first block of jewellers blue wax and want to make yourself a ring or pendant. Where do I start? You may ask yourself. Who is going to cast it for me? When I first started, I basically stumbled my way through it. The best place to find jewellers carving wax is at your local jewellery supply store. Major cities will have one or more but for most of us ordering off of the internet is the best option. Stick with a supplier in your own country, it'll get to you faster and will less tax. Then hit a dollar store to get your carving tools.
Simply put, lost wax casting is a process where the wax carving is melted out of a mold and metal is poured/spun/vacuumed into the empty void. Then the mold (sand or Plaster) is broken away to reveal the rough cast.
The fun part is carving the wax. The satisfying part is the look people give you when you say you made it in metal.
10. Wax Carving Tips
1.Plan Plan Plan! In order to get your idea into reality, transform it one dimension at a time; idea to paper then to sculpting the wax. Draw a few sketches of what you want first.
2.Make time: In order to enjoy the process, make sure you have a well lit area (daylight and north facing windows are best) and a flat surface to catch all the excess wax. Also make sure you are undisturbed for several hours. A high tabletop will cut down on neck and back strain.
3. Wax: The best carving wax to start with is the blue variety. Start by buying a 1/4lb block or a tube with a pre-drilled hole, this saves a lot of time when making a ring. Before jewellery supply stores the Egyptians and Mesopotamians used beeswax to make the models. Our modern-day wax has paraffin and some plastic in it to make it hard and raise its melting point.
4. Tools: The best tools to begin collecting are; A coping saw usually used for softwoods, 2 files Course and fine, an exacto blade knife, a set of eye-glass screwdrivers, and an empty mechanical pencil. If you have some experience carving metal or other media, your old drill bits, dull burs and files will still work very well on wax. A pipe tool is excellent for boring large holes in wax too. The most unexpected source of wax carving burs is old alarm clocks. The brass gears tend to be already connected to rods and are easily sharpened. It’s almost as if they were made for your Dremel.
5. Keep it Simple: Great artists never start out producing master pieces and neither will you. Keep your first half dozen wax designs very simple. It isn't meant to sound discouraging but I find many of my wax carving students tend to give up when they find their limitations on their first attempt. Making art takes practice and is a learning process with each piece. I suggest starting with a flat ring 1.5mm thick and 10mm wide with a simple design of a moebius or anything easy.
6. Design on wax: Used your file to remove any excess material and then the fine file to get a smooth surface to your wax. If you are carving a design into the wax use the mechanical pencil to lightly score the lines. If you make a mistake it can be easily filed off. A piece of paper towel works very well to smooth out fine scratches on the surface of the wax too. Remember those lines are easier to polish out on the wax then on the metal. Finishing the wax to the point that there are as little scratches as.
7. Settings: If you are carving out a cabochon setting in wax here is a great tip. Take a drill bit and grind the end flat. This will cut a perfect flat seat for the stone. When used on an angle it can be used to cut a channel for stone setting as well.
8. Weight: Remember someone is only going to wear a piece of jewellery if it is comfortable. Rings for gents shouldn't weigh more than 15gms. The weight of the wax will be a different ratio for each metal. For Silver multiply the weight of the finished wax piece by 10.5 for 14k Gold the Weight is 13.6gm. Roughly speaking it’s the specific gravity times the weight of the wax.
9. Your First piece: Don't use your first piece as a gift for your sweetheart. Your first attempt is going to be very special and will be something that you will keep forever to look back on.
10. Storage and shipping: Your wax is very very delicate. If it’s a ring DO NOT let anyone try it on, even you. It will crack and then you’ll have to go back and do all that work again. I find the best storage containers are empty film canisters. Keep it in one of these until you cast it. They are so strong you can use it to mail you wax to your casting house in a bubble envelope.
C/o Bellchamber’s Goldsmiths
Unit 17, 148 Fullerton St.
London Ont. N6A 5P3
If you have an idea of what a Ring or piece of jewellery would look like, I can help you make one. Simply send me a suggestion firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2005 Jason Bellchamber, London Ontario Canada
Last modified: 12/15/2012 Technical Implementation services by: Select Concepts Inc.