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Casting Carved Bone And Stone Pieces In Silver


Lachlan

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  • 1 month later...

Yes.

I have done a few pieces using cuttlefish bone casting. This works well and shows off the contures of pieces nicely. Any holes will need to be drilled out of the metal after casting.

Alternatively you could make a mold, cast wax into it and use lost wax casting to create your silver copies.

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Forgive the poor image quality of the casting, it was taken with my phone. This shows the original jade carving and a cuttlefish bone casting in silver made from it.

 

I realized that while I consider this technique relatively easy, it is still casting, which is a rather involved process. Cuttlefish bone is nice because it does not require burning out, vacwm or a centrifical caster. If you are looking for a cheap and easy manner of mass production, this is not going to be what your are looking for.

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When pressing the jade into the bone, it compacts the bone leaving a smooth surface. I used a soft brush (toothbrush) to remove the compacted bone dust to reveal those layers. I could have left the final layer of compacted bone in place to produce a smooth surface, but that would not have been nearly as interesting.

 

I took two cuttlefish bones and used a file to flatten the soft side of each. The carving is gently pressed into the center of one the pieces, then removed and the compacted dust is brushed out. This is repeated until the piece is about half way in. Then I leave the compacted bone and piece in and press the other cuttlefish bone on the other side of the piece. Again it is brushed, then pressed again until the two halves meet up. With the piece inside, I make registration marks to ensure proper alignment of the two halves. I then carve a large funnel shaped sprue out from the top point in my carving. I remove the jade piece, brush out the cuttlefish bone one last time to ensure the texture is nice and clean then wire the sides together. Silver was melted in a small crucible with an oxy acetylene torch and then poured into the sprue of the cuttlefish mold. Any excess molten silver was dripped into water turning it back into casting shot. The bone burns, but holds its shape long enough to produce a single cast.

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"Everyone always says that, but no one ever tells me the other way." MST3K

 

For lost wax casting, silicone molds and wax injection are probably what you are looking for.

Mold making is quite an art form all of its own. I recommend a clear RTV silicone. It certainly helps to be able to see your piece while cutting the mold. Every undercut and bridge greatly adds to the complexity of the mold and the possible errors when casting wax into it.

Even the most delicate carving will feel very heavy and bulky in metal. For silver, this also comes with a hefty price tag.

 

I have reproduced one carving this way. In general my carvings are ill suited for lost wax casting production.

 

This has a good step by step for lost wax casting in glass. http://www.glasskulls.com/asending-sequence/

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Yeah I was considering that they would be heavy and contain a lot of silver. I was hoping to use this to get a few more $ out of each carving I do, much like a painter sells prints and an original. However Im thinking the weight of silver in some of these pieces could make them more expensive then the jade/bone originals!

 

Maybe only worth it for smaller simpler pieces like these?

post-2388-0-91421700-1391551309.jpg

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Sterling silver should be about 3.5 times as dense as nephrite, so you can always weigh your jade piece and estimate the amount of silver that would be required.

 

I too had hoped that casting would let me use my jade as 'originals' and have an affordable product to sell. I found that the materials and time involved in casting made the pieces more expensive that I had hoped. I probably just didn't do production on the scale I would have needed to for it to be worthwhile.

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