I will attribute last week’s lack of a post to continuing computer challenges, but things have been going great in the studio.  Recently, I posted about making a lost wax Argentium® sterling silver clasp & the various steps involved.  One of my castings this week looked so adorable, I had to capture it before cutting it apart.  It reminds me of a little bouquet of spring flowers!

These are various sized Argentium® sterling silver end caps to finish off some of my newest kumihimo necklaces. The process starts with me hand fabricating a model of each size of cap by carving it in a hard wax using a lathe & hand tools.  Using the lost wax process (see below), that model is burnt away & a silver prototype is produced.  That prototype is refined to the next level with hand finishing & then a rubber mold is made of it using a vulcanizer (no, not from the planet, Vulcan, but I do love that word!).  Hot wax can be injected multiple times into that mold  to make as many copies as desired.  Those injected wax models are then incorporated into a bush-like structure (branching from a common plug-like base) using wax sticks & a hot wax pen.  The wax is then “invested” or submerged into a plaster of Paris type material under vacuum pressure to remove any air bubbles.  Once it has hardened, the “investment” is then heated in a kiln overnight to burn out the wax, leaving a plaster-like cylinder with voids that are interconnected & branch off of the base.  Precious metal is then melted & forced into the base of the cylinder out to the ends of the “branches” using a centrifuge.  After cooling, the plaster investment is dissolved away in water, leaving the casting that you see above.  The individual pieces are then cut apart & undergo final finishing.  There is some shrinkage that occurs during this multi-step process, so you have to guess at the size for the original model & then see what you end up with at the end.

As you can appreciate, going from an idea for a finding to a final hand-cast product involves many steps, time & effort, but it is worth it to get exactly what you need.  I pride myself on having the exact size of cap needed to finish any of the many different glass bead or gemstone kumihimos that I make.  This gives the final product a truly custom appearance.

Remember to mark your calendars for my upcoming shows:

Artisan Jewelry Show, Pasadena CA on May 9-11 (Mothers’ Day Weekend)
Long Beach Fine Art & Wine Festival, Long Beach CA on May 24-26 (Memorial Day Weekend)
La Jolla Festival of the Arts, UCSD Warren Campus, La Jolla CA on June 21-22
La Jolla Art & Wine Festival, downtown village of La Jolla CA on Oct 11-12