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LOST WAX | the technique

When I started my jewelry making journey, I didn't quite know how to get past the basic beading and wirework that's very much a gateway to more advanced techniques. The fact that I didn't wear large beaded pieces only added to my impatience - I wore metal jewelry and wanted to learn how to make something from nothing; how to bring my own design to life - I just needed to find out how. Enter the lost wax technique, or more commonly, lost wax casting. A process of metalsmithing that dates back almost 5000 years. And while that may sound impressive, I was not yet born so I shouldn't get credit for lost wax of Christmas' Past.

*^Start to finish

Before we go too far back, let me explain the process. It's a pretty straightforward technique. You begin with a wax model, a design that has been sculpted from wax or clay (see photo below), this is then placed inside a cylindrical canister. Once secured, a plaster-type material is injected into the canister and quickly surrounds and hardens around the wax piece(s) inside. It is then heated up and the wax liquifies and drips out, aka lost wax (eureka!). In the canister is now a mold in the shape of your design where the wax once was. The liquid metal is then injected into that negative space, hardens, and is then removed from the fill. After that, the piece can be polished, stones can be set and jewelry is born. This is not a process only used for jewelry, and it's important to note that this is a fairly general overview of the technique. That being said, it's a pretty awesome and primitive form of metalsmithing that deserves recognition. 

*^Original wax models

It is also important to note how the wax piece is originally made, as that part can vary significantly. In todays world, many wax models are created using software programs that create a digital rendering and then print a 3D model. I use an alternative way of making each wax piece, which is all done by hand. I heat up wax and drip it down in layers to build up the general outline and/or shape of the design, I then use tools to carve and sculpt each piece to completion and create the details in each design. The photo below shows the tools used for this part - it's an incredibly peaceful and inspiring medium, and definitely my favorite part of the process. 

And there you have it: A quick and easy rundown of the Lost Wax Casting process. All Lili Klein Jewelry is made using this technique, drawing inspiration from artists past and present, all of whom have created so much from this incredible process. 

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