Dearest readers, If you have seen the last few posts you know that I have been struggling to get my casting operation up and running. I have so many new ideas in my head that are dying for a chance to make it into metal form and I have several pieces in my current collection that are much easier to make by casting rather than by hand fabrication. Well.... I did it! Or, I guess I should say "we did it!", because my faithful Shop Monkey was there assisting, and he managed to snap this very unflattering photo just after the event:
Man, am I happy. I can't even explain how happy I am. I've done casting before, but always under someone more experienced who was "in charge". This was the first successful casting that I did under my power. There is a difference.
(On an unrelated note, for all of you jewelry junkies out there who might think making jewelry is glamorous....check me out above. That is pretty much how I look at work. Grubby, hot, hair pulled back, with dirty fingers. Not terribly glam.)

And it worked!

First I took a lot more care with my wax carving:

(in process)

Which is carved down from a slice of this:

Using these:

I don't know why it is, but somehow I automatically assume that when the ring comes out in metal it will magically be better than the wax. But that is not the case. You have to make the wax as perfect as you possibly can, because any flaws will be exaggerated even more in the metal and you will spend so much time finishing the final product that it makes it not even worth it to cast it in the first place. Checking the proportions:

I thought I had done a really good job on these waxes, but it turned out that every little file mark on the wax was a hundred thousand times more pronounced in the metal. So I spend a lot of time filing and sanding the next day. Live and learn.
I then invested the molds and burned out the wax. I think what was key for the success here was that I bought a new casting machine:

This is a centrifugal casting machine. You wind it up and then heat your metal in an attached crucible. When the metal is almost ready, you have your Shop Monkey remove the flask from the super hot kiln and place it on the swing arm inside the drum. After you have pushed the exit hole of the crucible up against the mouth of the flask you let the arm swing around, forcing the molten metal in the mold. It works like a charm, and I trust it so much more than the vacuum casting method.
The unfinished results:

They look pretty rough here, and I think I need to get higher heat investment. I talked to Jeff Hoover (at Hoover and Strong, my metal guys), and he suggested the centrifugal machine and different type of investment for the palladium white gold that I use a lot of. He said what I have for now is fine, but it would be better to get the other stuff when I run out. I have a 100lbs of it, so I don't know how soon that will be....
But here is the finished product!
Sapphires, diamonds, moissanite! I love stones!