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Wax Carving How To 

Wax Carving Jewelry Tutorial

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Wax Carving How To Jewelry Tutorial

This wax carving jewelry tutorial shows the basics of wax carving techniques and how to carve waxes for your jewelry designs using the lost wax method.

I start this tutorial off with wax carving an Egret. I want to carve a cameo of about 30mm by 30mm for use in future picture pendants. So I am going to carve it, then cast it into silver, finish the master, vulcanize it and inject it for future use. The focus will be on the method of wax carving in this tutorial.

This free jewelry tutorial follows the same format as in the paid for pdf jewelry tutorials. This gives you a good insight into the to technical teaching methodology.

Wax Carving How To Tutorial

Carving wax is an excellent medium for jewelry making, expanding your jewelry design range by using the lost wax method.
In this free jewelry tutorial I show how to carve wax and the wax carving tools that I use.
Also, this is how I do it. There are many, many other ways of achieving the same result and some that are probably better than mine. However this is what works for me.

Wax Carving How To Purple Wax Block / Sheet

I like Ferris or Matt purple wax. I buy it in sheet and block form from jewelry tool suppliers.
All the tools I shown are by and large hand-made, but Kate Wolf sell excellent sets of tools.

Wax Carving How To - Tools for Wax Carving

These are the ten top wax carving tools that I like to use.
The first four are pickers with pictures below.
No. 5 is just a pin for heating to build up wax.
No. 6 is a bristle brush.
No. 7 is a riffler file that has been bent 
No. 8 is a Barrette needle file  
No. 9 is an old toothbrush
No. 10 is a scalpel.
I use pencils as permanent holders, and then I spray then different colours, so white are always ball frazers of various thickness's and black are always tapered points of various thickness's, etc., etc.

Wax Carving How To - Picker Tool

This is the picker. This is my most useful tool of all.
It is simply an old burr that I ground to a point and heated it up to soften and bend it. Then I polish it up. I have various types of these, and they go into a pin vice.

Wax Carving How To - Bent Riffler File

This is a riffler file, which I heated up with a torch and bent upwards. Very handy, and since I only file wax with it, there is no need to re-harden it.

Wax Carving How To - Using a dental diamond bur for wax carving

A dental diamond bur, also heated up and bent. I have various shapes of these.

Wax Carving How To - Bent ball frazer tool

A bent ball frazer, probably my second favourite wax carving tool next to a pick.

Wax Carving How To - Adhere print to wax

So now we come to the actual start of things. The subject is a White Egret, a bird common in Botswana and where I took the picture. After I sized the picture in Photoshop, I printed it out. Exactly the size I want. I also printed out the picture in full size and, for that matter I have MANY other pictures of the subject that I am carving stuck up around me. Never carve from memory alone.
Here I have used masking tape to stick my small picture onto the purple wax sheet. Nice and flat and neat. I used to use clear adhesive as well and sometimes I still do, but it can seep through the paper and cause some loss of clarity. Now I take my scalpel and cut through the paper and into the wax, leaving a thin line as the start of my wax carving cameo.

Wax Carving How To - Outline drawn with scalpel

Like this--- birds are straight forward, but were I to do a face or something more defined, I would obviously put more lines in the wax. Not to many though, because otherwise they become confusing and you get lost. Now it is time to use tool no 1, the bent polished pick. The thin one first.

Wax Carving How To - Defining wax shape with picker

Here I am defining the shape and carving the background wax away. As ol' Leo said, I am removing all the stuff that doesn't look like an egret.....

Wax Carving How To - Carving progress more definition added

By now I have removed quite a lot of background wax and I am starting to look at the thickness of the final piece. I want it to be about 2-3 mm. When I have the right thickness, then I file the wax on the back away, toward the egret, until the surrounding wax becomes transparent. Then it is easy to cut the remaining wax away, using tool no1, your pick.

Wax Carving How To - Finished wax surface ready for casting

Like this. Now I sprue up the carved purple wax by joining the blue sprue wax with heat, then into the investment powder and cast it using a centrifugal caster. Once I have it cast, normally in silver that is mixed in a 97% alloy (because it casts easy and is easy to engrave) I will then re-sprue and vulcanize for mass production, should that be the need.

Wax Carving How To - silver master and wax injected copy

Here is the original silver master made from the purple wax carved egret. The master is vulcanized and a copy is made with wax injection using the green wax.

Wax Carving How To - Hollow out wax to save metal

This is a carved mermaid showing the front and the back. The finish of the wax is important. The more polished and finished off now, the less you have to do later when the master is cast. A trick is to use nylon stockings in a small ball to smooth out the wax surface.
Note, how the the back has been hollowed out. This is done with a light behind the wax piece. The lighter in weight your wax the lighter your finished metal piece.

Wax Carving How To - Wax to silver to 18k gold mermaid

Here the wax carved mermaid has been cast in silver, vulcanized and then the final cast was done in 18k yellow gold. The rock is handmade out of copper. This mermaid on rocks choker pendant was a commissioned jewelry piece.

Wax Carving How To - Example of wax woman with robes

Another example of a wax carved woman figure with robes which is then cast into silver.

Wax Carving How To - Hummingbird wax on wax bangle

Here I have carved a hummingbird, made a wax injection copy which I then incorporate into a bangle cuff design with organic wax edges.

Wax Carving How To - Carved Fish Eagle Pendant

These are typical pendants where I would use this type of wax carving method.

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