Tag Archives: casting


Cuttlebone Casting – Texture from the Sea

Pretty Pink Princess Party Birthday Cake Ring by Jennifer Stenhouse

Cuttlebone casting is one of the oldest jewelry casting methods. It is quick and fairly accurate, its main limitations being the size of the item to be cast. However it is perfect for casting at a jewelry scale and produces a wonderful unique texture that is a favorite among jewelers and jewelry lovers alike. 

Look at this adorable cuttlefish. Such a cutie.

Cuttlebone comes from a squid-like mollusk known as a cuttlefish. The cuttlefish has a chalky internal shell with a hard, thin crust surrounding a soft internal shell.Because the cuttlebone’s soft interior can be easily carved and withstand high temperatures make it perfect as a mold making material. These days cuttlebone can commonly be found in pet stores for parakeets and parrots as a bill sharpener. 

Cuttlebone washed up on the beach

The cuttlebone can be found on beaches after sea storms and the technique has been used in Mediterranean  countries for centuries and was using in mass produced jewelry up until the 1950’s. These days the majority of cast jewelry is done by centrifugal casting which is faster and cheaper than cuttlebone for mass production. However it is still a favorite method among artists because of the unique texture that the cuttlebone produces on the metal and the spontaneity of the technique.

Halo Rings with cuttlebone texture by Jennifer Stenhouse

This texture is created naturally by the cuttlebone. It is reminiscent of ocean waves, shifting sands, and topographical maps. It can be uses as a small design element or the focal point of the piece. Learning to cast cuttlebone isn’t too hard and if you wanted to do it in your own studio the casting set up is much cheaper and easier than with lost wax casting. Jennifer Stenhouse will be teaching Cuttlefish Bone Casting: Beyond Texture with us Sunday, August 13th where she will give some tricks and tips that can extend the versatility of your cuttlebone designs. Come play with us and learn all about this wonderful technique:

 

Class Details: Cuttlefish Bone Casting:Beyond Texture

August 13, Sunday, 10:00-5:00

Class Fee: $145| Basic materials included

To register give us a call at 206-524-0916 or stop by our studio at 5919 University Way NE, Seattle 98105

Low Tech Gravity Casting

Melting silver scrap for gravity casting

Melting silver scrap for gravity casting

Come play with fire this summer! Spend three Wed evenings, July 12,19, & 26, 6:30-9:30 learning everything you need to start doing this fun and fast form of casting.This class is only offered once a year and features, among other things, sand casting, cuttlebone, and tufa stone casting. Gravity Casting is a great way to learn metal casting with out a huge set up like lost wax casting and is a great class to use up any scrap silver you might have laying around.

Gravity Cast 4

Keeping the metal hot right before pouring into the mold.

Gravity Casting

Gravity Casting is a permanent casting method where metal is heated until it is molten and then poured into a mold. The molds can be made of many materials such as metal, sand, tufa stone, and cuttle bone. In jewelry making the most frequent mold materials are sand casting, tufa stone, and cuttle bone.

 

Learning to cast isn’t just about making jewelry components. By knowing how to cast you can alloy your own metals; for instance creating sterling silver out of fine silver casting grains or pouring ingots. An ingot is a block of metal typically oblong in shape. Ingots can be rolled out in a rolling mill (creating sheet or wire) or can be forged. Pouring ingots is a great way to use up small bits of metal scrap and shavings getting the most out of your precious metals.

 

Cuttlebone cast earrings by Jennifer Stenhouse

Cuttlebone Casting

This metal casting technique takes advantage of the properties of a finely porous bone-like internal organ that is shared by all members of the cuttlefish family. Using cuttlefish bone to carve out molds in order to cast is one of the oldest casting methods on record. It creates a very distinct texture that is unique to carving the cuttlefish bone. Cuttlefish bone will wash up on beaches from naturally-deceased animals all over the world. It’s ease in carving and accessibility is probably what led to it being used as a mold material since ancient times.

 

Pouring into a tufa stone mold

Pouring into a tufa stone mold

Tufa Stone Casting

The Spanish coming to New Mexico and Arizona is what brought the tradition of silversmithing to the American South West. They taught the Navajo and Pueblo people how to cast molten silver to create jewelry and other items. The mold material that they used was tufa stone. Tufa stone is a soft and porous volcanic stone that can be found in many parts of the world including the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Tufa stone can be easily carved and withstand high heat making it an excellent mold making material.

Melting the metal to pour into a sand casting mold.

Melting the metal to pour into a sand casting mold.

Sand Casting

Sand casting is a metal casting process where sand is used as the mold material. Jewelers and industry uses the sand casting process and it is the most commonly used method in industrial casting. The basic process is that a pattern is made in the sand and then molten metal is pored into this recess. Once cooled the casting resembles the pattern made in the sand.

 

 

Have we got you interested in gravity casting yet? Come check out this class and all classes on the summer schedule at Danaca Design by clicking right HERE!

July Classes

Summer is here and before you get too busy making vacation plans don’t forget to schedule some summer classes too. Play for a day in a one day “quickie” or spend a whole week in an immersion class. We also have kid jewelry camps too! Here is what is coming up in July but check out our full schedule online here 

Featured Classes in July:

 

Kids wirework and beads

Jewelry Summer Camp for Kids 8-12
July 17-21, Monday-Friday, 9:00am-2:00pm,

Class Fee: $300

Looking for a fun and artistic activity for your 3rd-6th grader this summer? Have them come spend a week making jewelry with us. These week long camps teach cool jewelry making techniques such as bead making, creative wire-working, metal texturing, stamping, and basic riveting! No experience necessary and return students welcome.

Total Immersion: Beginning Jewelry Making
July 24-28, Monday-Friday, 10:00-5:00
Class Fee: $595|Basic materials included

Come spend a week taking a jewelry vacation! This class is all three of our beginning series workshops rolled into one. Each day you’ll go home dreaming about what to create the next day. Absolutely no experience needed.

One Day “Quickie” Classes:

Enamel earrings by Linnie Kendrick

                                                                                      

Kiln Fire Enameling Basics I
July 8, Saturday, 10:30-5:00pm
Class Fee: $145|Basic materials included

Get a taste for the timeless beauty of colored glass on metal. Students will learn how to properly apply richly colored opaque enamels onto flat and domed sheet metal by both sifting and wet-laying. No experience necessary.

Soldering Essentials
July 9, Sunday 10:00-4:00pm
Class Fee: $95|Basic materials included

Whether you’ve had a soldering class, attempted to learn from a book, or never even tried, if you are looking to learn how to silver-solder or just get better at it, this class is for you. Expect lots of hands-on time at the soldering table and practice with different torches. No experience necessary.

Summer Don’t Miss Classes:

Melting scrap metal in preparation for pouring into the mold.

Low Tech Gravity Casting
July 12, 19, 26, Wed Evening, 6:30-9:00pm
Class Fee:$295|Basic materials included

Learn the fundamentals of casting by exploring the ancient technique of pouring molten metal directly into molds carved or formed from sand, soft stone, and other surprising materials. This process does not require any major equipment so it is easily reproduced in a home studio or in your back yard! No experience necessary.

Beautiful shapes can be created with fold forming techniques

Fantastic Fold Forming!
July 22-23, Saturday and Sunday, 10:30-5:00
Class Fee:$265|Basic materials included

Fold forming is an exciting technique wherein sheet metal is manipulated and hammered to create fabulously textured, 3-dimensional, organic forms. This is a quick porcess, so students will have the opportunity to create a variety of basic forms in this quick workshop. All levels.

PMC…create as you would with clay but once fired becomes all metal

Bronze Precious Metal Clay Basics
July 29-30, Saturday, 10:00-4:00pm
Class Fee: $95|Materials kit $30 payed to instructor

Striking jewelry can be made easily and inexpensively with Bronze Precious Metal Clay, bronze clay that when fired in a kiln results in pure metal! This workshop will focus on the basics of working with PMC Bronze however students might also explore components for earring and pendants. No experience necessary however intermediate level students encouraged.

Wax Working for Jewelers

Carved wax and wax carving tools

Carved wax and wax carving tools

Lost wax casting is widely used today for mass producing jewelry and jewelry components but is also used to create unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces as well. Wednesday nights, Oct 14 – Nov 18, 6:30pm-9:30pm our Wax Working for Jewelers will get you started creating your own waxes in no time.Whether you are a new or returning student you will learn the fundamentals and some good tricks for designing and creating wax models for casting in this six week workshop. This is a reoccurring class so if you missed it this time check back for future classes!

Carved wax jewelry sprued to one "tree" ready for casting

Carved wax jewelry sprued to one “tree” ready for casting

One of the most important parts of casting is starting will a well designed and carved wax model. Without proper planning the metal may not be able to flow correctly during the casting process resulting in a partial casting. And knowing how to design a wax with an eye toward the finished design not only helps with the look of the piece but can save you a lot of time in clean up after the casting is done!

Jewelry right after casting

Jewelry right after casting

The final waxes will be sent out to a professional casting house and returned the final week for finishing. This is a multiple week class and so students are able and encouraged to come into the studio during Practice Hours to work on class projects.

To find out more about this and all of our current classes please go to www.danacadesign.com 

Danaca Design is open Mon-Fri 11am-6pm and Sat 10am-6pm. If you are in the Seattle area stop by to see our jewelry gallery and mercantile at:

5619 University Way NE, Seattle WA 

Gravity Casting – Playing with Fire

Melting silver scrap for gravity casting

Melting silver scrap for gravity casting

Kicking off the summer class schedule at Danaca Design is Gravity Casting July 11 & 12, 10:30am – 5:00pm. This class is only offered once a year and features, among other things, sand casting and tufa stone casting. Gravity Casting is a great way to learn metal casting with out a huge set up like lost wax casting and is a great class to use up any scrap silver you might have laying around. 

Gravity Cast 4

Keeping the metal hot right before pouring into the mold.

Gravity Casting 

Gravity Casting is a permanent casting method where metal is heated until it is molten and then poured into a mold. The molds can be made of many materials such as metal, sand, tufa stone, and cuttle bone. In jewelry making the most frequent mold materials are sand casting, tufa stone, and cuttle bone. 

 

Learning to cast isn’t just about making jewelry components. By knowing how to cast you can alloy your own metals; for instance creating sterling silver out of fine silver casting grains or pouring ingots. An ingot is a block of metal typically oblong in shape. Ingots can be rolled out in a rolling mill (creating sheet or wire) or can be forged. Pouring ingots is a great way to use up small bits of metal scrap and shavings getting the most out of your precious metals.

Melting the metal to pour into a sand casting mold.

Melting the metal to pour into a sand casting mold.

Sand Casting

Sand casting is a metal casting process where sand is used as the mold material. Jewelers and industry uses the sand casting process and it is the most commonly used method in industrial casting. The basic process is that a pattern is made in the sand and then molten metal is pored into this recess. Once cooled the casting resembles the pattern made in the sand.

Pouring into a tufa stone mold

Pouring into a tufa stone mold

Tufa Stone Casting

The Spanish coming to New Mexico and Arizona is what brought the tradition of silversmithing to the American South West. They taught the Navajo and Pueblo people how to cast molten silver to create jewelry and other items. The mold material that they used was tufa stone. Tufa stone is a soft and porous volcanic stone that can be found in many parts of the world including the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Tufa stone can be easily carved and withstand high heat making it an excellent mold making material. 

 

 

Have we got you interested in sand casting yet? Come check out this class and all classes on the summer schedule at Danaca Design by clicking right HERE!

What Can You Do With Wax?

WAX 8

Ring was carved out of wax and then cast in silver

Ring was carved out of wax and then cast in silver

The Wax Working for Jewelers class with Jennifer Stenhouse starts this week at Danaca Design. It is a six week class that will teach the fundamentals and some good tricks for designing and creating wax models for casting. 

 

Very fine detail can be achieved

Very fine detail can be achieved

 

Lost wax casting is widely used today for mass producing jewelry and jewelry components, but is also perfect for creating one of a kind jewelry pieces. 

 

 

 

Wax comes in many forms. Sheet and tubes are the most common.

Wax comes in many forms. Sheet and tubes are the most common.

 

Wax for jewelers comes in many colors. The color of the wax tells you the hardness of the wax. Green is the hardest and is good for sharp details but it is brittle and can break easily. Medium hardness wax usually comes in shades of purple, red, and blue and is the most commonly used for jewelry design. It is less brittle than the green but still allows for good detail.

 

Look how tiny!

Look how tiny!

Here is an example of a finished wax carving that will become a charm…

 

Lost_wax_4

…and here it is after casting.

So for jewelers wax can do a lot! Now what will you do with your wax?

Wax Working for Jewelers

Rings from wax

I got started with jewelry my sophomore year in high school. After quickly scanning the class options on registration day and passing over the jewelry making class I signed up for drawing instead. One day while students were working the instructor had a weird colored…thing…on her desk. She was using a flame and some kind of tool to attach more colored pieces to the bunch, and I had to know what she was doing. As I got closer I saw what looked like rings, and I was even more excited. Not really having any concept of how jewelry or rings were made, I was very intrigued when I learned those colored parts were wax, and that wax was about to be replaced with metal. I went to work on changing my schedule and next term I was in the jewelry making class learning how to saw, file, solder, shape metal, carve wax, and set stones. I took jewelry making class every term from then on until I graduated.

wax sprue parts

The weird colored thing that drew me in was a wax sprue tree, full of rings that were nearly ready to cast. I still love the look of a sprue tree! Sprue trees are part of a process called lost wax casting, which you can learn about in our class on Wax Working for Jewelers coming up here at the beginning of April.

Wax Working for Jewelers
Instructor: Jennifer Stenhouse
April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7, six Wednesday nights, 6:30 – 9:30
Class Fee: $275 | Basic materials included

The ancient technique of lost wax casting is widely used today for mass producing jewelry and jewelry components but it is also used to create unique one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.  Learn the fundamentals and some good tricks for designing and creating wax models for casting in this comprehensive workshop.  Students will explore a variety wax types and techniques and be introduced to the casting process to better understand how to prepare ideal waxes for casting.  Projects will include pendants, rings and charms.  The final waxes will be sent out to a professional casting house and returned the final week for finishing.  No experience necessary however returning students are welcome
*Students enrolled in multiple week classes are eligible and encouraged to work outside of class on class projects during Practice Hours.

Carved and Cast Leaf Pendant

stacey big cast ring with purple stone

 

Stacey big ring with purple stone sideviewIf you would like to register for this class please call us at 206.524.0916, Tue-Fri 11-6, Sat 10-6.