A Frog and Wax
At New York’s State University, FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), Chie has been teaching Jewelry classes for 20 years. His classes include basic skills such as “Wax Carving”, “Sawing” and “Solderimg” to advanced techniques such as “Handmade Platinum Jewelry” and “Experimental Techniques in Metal”.
Wax Carving is one of Chie’s favorite as well as his students. Wax…...? Who would imagine that beautiful gold and silver jewelry starts as a block of wax? The method, however, is not uncommon to jewelry making at all. It is called “Lost-Wax Casting” process, and the Mayan Indians developed it centuries ago.
Let Chie show you how his cute frog pin is made.
The process begins with designing on a piece of paper. After tracing the design on the wax and cutting the frog out, Chie starts carving. A few pencil lines turn into a fully formed sculptural piece. This process requires a person who is an artist and a craftsman. The finished wax frog is then set into a flask (metal container) which investment (plaster) is poured until it completely covers it. The flask is placed in a kiln until the wax burns out through a sprue (channel) in the investment. All that is left of the “wax frog” is a cavity bearing an exact imprint of the original. Into this cavity, molten sterling silver is poured. When the silver cools down and sets, the investment is washed away and the frog, now transformed into sterling silver, remains. The wax was actually lost.
That is why it is called “Lost-Wax Casting”.
After filing and polishing the sterling silver frog, the next step is texturizing the metal. Although this process requires skillful hands and a lot of patience, Chie enjoys considering what kind of texture he could give to the frog. Now the frog has got his skin. Then he solders findings (pin joint and catch) to it and polishes it. Finally, that cute frog is ready to be worn.
To make in large quantities, a rubber mold is made from the silver frog as a master model. Molten wax is injected into the cavity of the mold and the lost-wax casting process is repeated.