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Lapidary / Gemstone Community Forum
December 13, 2018, 03:46:45 am
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Lost Wax Casting

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Author Topic: Lost Wax Casting  (Read 2641 times)
Rockoteer
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« on: August 05, 2010, 08:26:14 pm »

Not sure if this is the correct forum...

Who knows what and how much about Lost Wax Casting and is it difficult to learn?  My wife has showed an interest.
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-Gary

Of all the things I've lost..I miss my mind the most.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right.

guest787
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2010, 08:30:38 pm »

I know the basic principles..

Build a model in wax.
Mold clay around it and let the clay harden.
Pour molten metal into the top and the melted wax pours out the bottom as the molten metal fills the top. 
Allow to cool.  Break away clay carefully.
Expose your creation and polish it.


A few years back one of the local art galleries offered classes in this method.

I would check with your local universities and gem clubs to see if someone actually does this and offers classes.
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thewrightthings
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2010, 08:46:22 pm »

Also, it usually requires either a vacuum or centrifugal apparatus for the casting.
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bobby1
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2010, 08:56:11 pm »

I have done a considerable amount of lost wax casting and I taught  classes for 14 years. The basic process is to make a model from wax either by the build up process or by carving the model from a block of hard carving wax. It is then mounted with a sprue (a connecting rod of wax) to the mold base. Next the flask is placed over the model and inserted into the mold base. A mixture of Plaster of Paris like material (actually a special material made of cristobolite called investment)  is mixed with water and debubbilized. It is then poured into the side of the flask (not directly on the model) until the flask is full. It is then debubbilized again and set aside for the investment to solidify. After an hour or more (up to 24 hours) it is then placed into a burnout oven. The temperature is slowly raised up to 1350 degrees in about 6 to 8 hours. It is then allowed to cool slowly to about 800 degrees, placed into the centrifuge, which is wound up and locked in place. The metal is melted in the crucible, it is released and the centrifugal force pushes the metal into the void  left in the flask. The flask is allowed to cool slightly and then plunged into a bucket of water. The investment crumbles away and the cast object is now visible. It is then scrubbed of the remaining investment, the sprue rod is cut off and the final finishing is done.
The process requires a torch, a centrifuge , and a burnout oven and miscellaneous other smaller items such as wax, carving tools, a flask and various metalworking hand tools.
An alternative method is to place the heated flask on a vacuum table, draw a vacuum and pour the melted metal into the flask. Usually if you are only casting up tp about 3 to 4 ounces of metal you would use a centrifuge. For larger quantities you would use the vacuum table method.
Definitely take classes before diving in and purchasing some rather costly equipment.
It is a totally different medium to use your creativity to make jewelry. Its a lot of fun, too. You get to play with fire AND molten metal!!
Bob
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MrsWTownsend
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« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2010, 01:24:56 pm »

Investment casting it WAY cool!  It's not that hard to learn but the acquisition of all of the equipment necessary can be costly.  My advice is to buddy up with the person who is teaching local classes because they usually have a line on people who are wanting to sell equipment (as well as lots of good tips and advice) and watch craig's list for deals on used equipment.  Once you start looking, you will be surprised at how many people are out there who have done it or are still doing it.

You can also cast leaves, twigs and other organic stuff that will burn out completely in a kiln at the above listed temp.  I have even cast scorpions and tarantulas; I keep bugs in the freezer purely for my casting pleasure.  Anything with bone thin enough to burn out is castable.  There are places where you can buy pre-molded wax patterns as well.  Once you browse through those catalogs, you will recognize many of the items you see in stores.

Check this out:

http://s257.photobucket.com/albums/hh240/MrsWTownsend/Casting%20a%20Tarantula/?albumview=slideshow

And this one:

http://s257.photobucket.com/albums/hh240/MrsWTownsend/Casting%20a%20Scorpion/?albumview=slideshow

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thewrightthings
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« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2010, 02:58:25 pm »

Gina, opening your freezer must scare the bejeebers out of the uninformed!
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Rockoteer
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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2010, 06:27:24 pm »


Gina, those were great slides.  Looks like money will be the deciding factor wheather my wife continues with her idea of trying this.  I doublt that she will once she learns what it will cost.
          but........who knows?.................The shadow Knows

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-Gary

Of all the things I've lost..I miss my mind the most.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right.
Taogem
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« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2010, 08:30:35 pm »

That is pretty darn cool how the spider can be cast !
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bobby1
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« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2010, 09:53:49 pm »

Here are some photos of things that I have made with lost wax casting using both the buildup and the carving methods or both on the same piece.
I hope this will inspire her to take a class!
These two rings were made with a wax pen and doing the buildup method.

This one is also the buildup method. I made this one for my mom and she wore it for 25 years up till the day she died. It has opals which were her birthstone.

I carved this one and then applied a design with a wax pen.

This one was carved only. I couldn't get the diamonds to show up in this photo.

Three photos of items carved and the design applied with a wax pen.



Two photos of waxes that were carved but not yet cast.


And finally a model that was built up with a wax pen.
Bob

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Taogem
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2010, 11:40:15 am »

Those certianly are inspirational Bob !   yes

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woodyrock
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2010, 12:28:22 am »

There are two other methods of driving the molten metal into the mould.  First, is steam casting where you pour the molten metal into a cavity in the mould, then quickly place a cap with wetted material (used to be asbestos) over the top, which flashes the water to steam thus driving the molten metal into the mold.

Second, is sling casting where you pour your molten metal into the cavity formed in the mould, then sling the flask around in a circle. You must make sure you will not hit anything overhead doing this.

Neither of these methods will be as sure of success as centrifical, or vacuum casting, but  do work. I used the sling method for many years with pretty good success.

Woody
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bobby1
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2010, 12:32:10 am »

I used the steam casting method for a few years until I could afford a centrifuge. Steam casting is about 80% successful in filling the cavity.......Too often disappointing results.
Bob
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MrsWTownsend
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2010, 03:11:07 am »

Holy crap Bob, thanks for showing us how it's done!  You definitely are an inspiration!!!!
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guest787
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 04:08:56 pm »


You can also cast leaves, twigs and other organic stuff that will burn out completely in a kiln at the above listed temp.  I have even cast scorpions and tarantulas; I keep bugs in the freezer purely for my casting pleasure.  Anything with bone thin enough to burn out is castable.  There are places where you can buy pre-molded wax patterns as well.  Once you browse through those catalogs, you will recognize many of the items you see in stores.

Thank you for letting me know this!  I've been wanting twigs to be cast for ages! Could you picture twigs in copper Gina?  yes
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christopherl1234
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« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2010, 09:54:06 pm »

So I got this steam casting kit at a silent auction. Can you all give me some tips on the best way to use it?
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