So far, anyway. I just did two lost wax silver casting this morning. There is always a bit of concern by me if they will turn out fully cast. I have been doing vacuum assisted casts very well but there is always a chance all the wax work will be lost from an incomplete pour. It is “Lost Wax” after all.
No problem today.
I had been putting this session off for a couple of months as it's been very hot here in Texas. The issue is that the kiln has to fire for over 12 hours and gets up to 1350 degrees. It does some pre heating and wax melting at 300 degrees for a couple of hours then starts to rise at 175 degrees per hour up to 1350 degrees. It holds 1350 for three hours. Next it cools to 800 degrees which is the casting temperature of the mold. I have programmed the kiln control to hold for 100 hours at 800 so I can do the casting on my own time schedule after the big heat.
It does have to stay at 800 degrees for several hours so the flask temperature can equalize at that number before I can do the cast.
This type of small lost wax casting means I am working with a lot of heat. The silver melting and pouring only takes about 10 minutes and is almost anti-climatic after doing all the work to get to the pouring ceremony. I had jitters doing my very first pours several years ago but now it is just part of the process.
I started firing my kiln about 5:00 PM. On Sunday I had previously accomplished the investment work about mid afternoon. The investment takes a few hours to firmly set before it can be heated in the kiln.
The garage (shop) temperature was about 90 degrees so the investment work went much quicker and the vacuum de-airing was much more vigorous than usual. In Texas hot water comes out both sides of the faucet in late August. Every detail in lost wax casting is measured and controlled even water temperature.
My main concern was what would a 1350 degree kiln do to the shop temperature. That's why I do kiln firing over night. I left the garage door open about 6-8 inches top and bottom all night to let the hot air out. I had two fans going. I was a bit worried about stray animal invasions under the door. Ha.
I monitored the shop temperature until midnight then woke and checked again about 3:00 AM. It was hovering at 85 degrees on my wall thermometer all night but warmer near the kiln. At 7:00 this morning it was still 85 so all went rather well. It was about 80 outdoors last night.
I made some coffee and started work prepping for the pours. It was all over before 8:30 and they both went very well. (See picture) Still a lot of the silver work left to do but the major fun of working in the heat is over. This is how silver looks straight out of the acid pickel which cleans the silver and makes it appear white. No silver finish work at all has been done at this point. These are raw castings.
Now the shop can cool down (?) to normal ambient 85 Texas summer temperature. At least the 105 degree days have stopped for awhile.
|Tessa's ring. 10.4 grams Sterling Silver||Tree of Life. 19.6 grams Sterling Silver w/ bale|
If this is not your first visit and you look very carefully, you may be able to see that this blog has morphed slightly.
Dimensional Art Org is now running in the newest version of Joomla which is a content management system (CMS) for creating web sites. Previously it was hosted in WordPress, another CMS. There are many reasons for the change that are off-topic for here.
An improvement is every post will have the opportunity for comment. It will require registration and a few security hoops to hop through, but that is the way it is these days. I would like to see some genuine feedback.
I used the same format as the old system and all the previous content was moved here. The original creation dates were lost but that is not critical for my purposes. I hope you like the change, I do…
I have discovered there is no easy answer to that question. I have seen it asked in many creative environments and the answer is never a single universal consensus. Just do a search on the internet and you will see and read what I say is true.
The issue begins and the answer changes with using a tool to aid the use of ones hands in making something. A sharp rock (flint) is considered a tool when it is used for human controlled cutting. So has that somehow diminished the definition of handmade primitive arrows? Another rock (a tool) was used to bash the sharp edges on the arrowhead. But the tools were actually handmade from available “raw” materials.
So… perhaps handmade must include the use tools? Handmade tools? No commercial made steel edge tools? I could expand on this line of thought but I proclaim that “pure” handmade is a very extreme limitation to be a part of modern interpretation of the handmade definition.
But there is another expansion into the use of machines. Does the use of a sewing machine prevent a man’s dress suit from being handmade? Probably. How was the cloth made? The term of preference is hand tailored to avoid the conflict with handmade.
One generally accepted definition is that handmade includes any tool or machine that is directed solely by the human hand. So this conveniently includes purchased or non-handmade tools and machines. It doesn't mention a powered machine... Hmmm.
I am actually not proposing any fix for the purest meaning of hand made. I am making my point that it is not a well-defined concept to the casual user of the term. What is handmade depends on whom you ask. Jewelry has a precise trade definition as found in this Wikipedia search. Does the definition infer the use of automated (automatic directed) machinery used to produce “finding” like clasps and chains and factory beads or even automated wire drawing (sizing), that should preclude the use of the term “handmade” in the jewelry business? So be it. The Wikipedia link may be defective as I certainly consider lost wax silver casting from hand carved wax as “handmade”. So even this example demonstrates the ambiguity of creating a one size fits all definition.
Perhaps it’s like defining pornography, “You know it when you see it.”
I understand the intent and tradition of the archaic term “handmade”. I personally make handmade items I believe to be within the definition. I may also add non handmade items like the necklace chain to finish the project. So there can be a mix.
I also make many items using my mind and hands on a computer input devise to store personally created directions that guide automated machines to do things my hands and limited muscle control cannot manage. These items are just as personally created (note the change in definition) as my handmade items. I can easily NOT refer to these items as handmade.
However, the machines are strictly limited to doing what I direct by the hand programing. So I can argue that I directly control what the machine produces, but breaking “hand” tradition is not worth the fight. I am happy with traditional handmade and love to work within the perceived definition, just because it is traditional.
I also do not feel less of a creative person using my modern definition of personally produced items using computer numeric control (CNC) machines.
Personal CNC makes precision dimensioned components from my human directed inputs. As far as single person art, it is still as pure and traditional as it can be, because I control all the steps. I have total design control. The final machine execution is automatic but there is total human effort in creating the machine movement.
Including automation in handmade is more a concept of creativity control verses human muscle control. I can honor the difference.
So I will leave the term handmade as a sacrament to muscle control in the creative process. My choice of the words “personally created” will include any creative process under total control of myself.
I made this for a close personal friend whose hobby interest is playing and somewhat collecting guitars, Gibsons preferably. I free-lanced this design but it is Gibson-like. I call it "no strings attached " for obvious reasons.
This ring is 100% hand carved from a block of wax. Total effort, working a few hours at each session, was about a week, start to finish.
There is a bit more information on this project at: Ramblin' Dan's Workshop.
I am now confident with the lost wax casting process. My intention is to work on more detailed designs, since I have less fear of losing my work in a bad cast. It's become a lot more relaxing and fun to do. Actually, it always has been fun ;)
I have taken the big step and retired from my construction and energy management career. Now begins the time when I get serious about further developing and exploiting my artistic desires. The key word in the previous sentence is time.
Time is a very valuable resource that is already receiving lots of external pressure. I have mentally set some priorities and limits on my time. Now fully into retirement (all 6 weeks of it at this writing) I see time has to be managed as much as ever. It can easily be squandered.
I place time management at a high priority, but I will admit not as critical as when working within a large corporation. I like being my own boss again. I am going to enjoy my retirement and not create high pressure critical path time goals. I just need to manage my time and not let it manage me.
An old adage is still true. Practice makes perfect. My new abundance of time allows me to practice my artistic desires. I am far from perfect and consistent practice is the key of improvement, same as an audition at Julliard. A different kind of art, but the path to acceptance is the same.
My goal is to be an accepted artist. I can claim it all I want but it is really something that has to be earned. Practice will get me there. I am getting serious… ;)