The Lost Wax Process
When I choose to cast a design, I first sculpt or model my form. My materials can be: oil-based Plastilina clay; water-based pottery clay; foundry wax; or jewelers’ wax. The clay is sometimes a quick way to get a maquette for a wax piece. Working with clay is somewhat more immediate then wax because it remains pliable in all stages. However, working in clay first, requires that I make a mold of the finished form. This mold then is filled with foundry wax to get a wax positive, which is molded and burned-out of the mold in order to be cast in the final metal.
Wax is not as immediate as clay as it must be continuously heated or melted to maintain its plasticity. But unlike clay, wax is not as fragile once it cools and hardens, and final refinement is easier. When I work in wax I can either carve the form from a solid block or I can build the form using melted wax. When building the form I can also partially carve and then refine the form using melted wax, and finishing both types of forms using metal wax tools placed in a flame or an alcohol wax torch.
My Intention when the modeling is complete; is to either cast it as a small sculpture or as a piece of jewelry, and sometimes it is designed to be both. Some of my small sculptures can be both displayed and worn.
Jewelers’ wax also comes in linear (wire) and sheet form, and lends itself to smaller jewelry pieces.
Once the finished design has been cast, I have the option of making a mold to produce more waxes to be cast. My cast pieces fall into two categories: unique (one only): limited edition: only a predetermined number (5-10) are produced, and often in more than one material such as silver and bronze. A customer will always be advised which category they are purchasing.
A third category is one in which the mold is used to create the wax permits me to have a lower priced item especially for earrings and pendants.