Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Step 3 - carving the details

So, if you've been around for the last few weeks, you'd know that Susan and Jason have chosen the wedding band "Stitches" from my Etsy store. Thanks guys!!! This is the third, and final, tutorial on carving their waxes. The previous tutorials are, part one and part two.

Here is a picture of the gravers I will be using to carve this wax. I want to stress that this is the way I carve a wax. There are as many wax carving techniques as there are wax carvers so if you don't have gravers, don't sweat it. Just use what you have!!

I now have unadorned wax rings in the correct sizes and widths and thicknesses so it's time to carve the details. I start, again, with my dividers and a calculator. I measure the outside diameter, calculate the outside circumference and fiddle with that measurement until I am satisfied with the number and width of the stitches that will fit around each band.
I mark all the way around with my dividers and scribe a line about 2mm in on each side. These sections will turn into the stitches. In these next three photos, I use various gravers to carve out the design. First, I mark out each section with a line. Then, I take a little wax from each corner to round each stitch and scrape away wax from each stitch's edge. I am mostly using a #42 and a #2 graver for this.

All these parts are very fiddly. I use whatever tools give me the right texture. To give the stitches their final texture, I used a file and a scribe. Below is a picture of the final carving.

Once the wax is done, I obsess over it for a day or two. I hunt down air bubbles, remeasure, rub it with 400-600 grit sandpaper and then give it a dunk in the ultrasonic and a quick steam. Sometimes I give the wax a quick flame polish, which is holding the wax very quickly in front of a big bushy flame to just slightly melt it (careful, this can be either really great or really heartbreaking.) There are wax polishers too that work really well. Either way, at some point you have to call them "done" and send them off to be cast. This is, honestly, the hardest part of the whole process. If you have ever had anything cast before you know,...a teeny blemish that doesn't show up much on a wax model can be HUGE once the piece is cast. You want to make sure that all of the scratches and air bubbles are gone once you send it off or you will have tons of cleanup to do.

Thanks for hanging in there for all three weeks!! I hope you learned something and I hope you try carving your own wax!


Lisa-Maladylis said...

where are you sending them off to to be cast ? I never thought of sending them off. I used to do the lost wax method many many moons ago but no longer have the tools anymore. But I still have the wax and carvers. I never thought of making something and then sending it off to cast. I would love to know that this is a option because then maybe I would make some things again. thanks for the tute !

Patricia Wood said...

This serie was so interesting! Thank you so much for sharing:)

Ann Hartley said...

Hi Lisa! I, personally, LOVE Hoover and Strong for casting. I think they do a great job, are easy on the environment and are a pleasure to work with. I have also heard great things about Racecar Casting but I have never personally used them. Having someone else cast for you is great!! Patricia, thanks so much! I had a great time too!

Three Birds Jewelry said...

This was great! I have always wanted to do casting, I'm hoping I to sign up for a class locally and get my hands dirty (or maybe waxy?). Thanks for the series!

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