Tuesday, 20 October 2015

October 20

Cast  – But Not in Stone

Have I ever mentioned that I love casting silver? I have done cuttle fish castings (see post of October 6) and lost wax (see my Tiki Pendant below). This month, I took a botanicals casting workshop. Fascinating.

Burn, Baby, Burn

When you cast lost wax, you encase a wax model in a plaster-like substance in a steel flask, then use a kiln to melt the wax out, leaving a cavity into which you force molten silver. I love melting silver. It's pure alchemy.  To cast bits of plant material, you encase twigs, leaves or other plant bits in the same plaster but, when you put the flasks into the kiln, instead of melting, your "model" burns — leaving a cavity that exactly reproduces it when the silver flows in.

Out of the Mold

Left: a photo of my casting after washing the plaster investment away. At the moment, it sure doesn't look much like silver, does it?

I chose to cast a sprig of cedar and a clipping of a strange, fleshy weed that loves my vegetable garden. A sort of vengeance, I guess, to incinerate something I've been fighting  all summer!

Both items were attached to a single sprue (the "pipe" that the silver flows through) so, once I got the casting  onto my bench, I had to cut them apart.

I ended up with the two plant bits in silver and a strange silver sprue that looks like a tree stump — sort of appropriate.

This is all part of a long-term project for next spring's BC Gem Show. The Creative Jewellers Guild has chosen "botany" as our theme for 2016.

My plan is to mount some tiny stones on the cedar sprig.What to do with the weed is still eluding me!

Stay tuned.