Friday, October 15, 2010
Everything's Coming Up Roses (And Leaves)
For an uncounted number of sporadic terms now, I have taken a metalsmithing class at the college where I work. Much classier, of course, to call it silversmithing except that one is not limited to working in silver. I figured it would be fun to show you a few of the things I have made. You will be seeing more of some of these in another post, hopefully soon, so I won't explain right now what they are all about. You'll just have to stay tuned for further developments.
These pieces were made by a process called lost wax casting. The piece is created in wax then encased in a type of plaster, which is heated in a kiln until the wax burns out, hence is "lost", and molten silver is poured into the cavity left in the plaster. Various types of wax are available ready-made but none were suitable for what I wanted to do, which was to model the roses as one would do with clay. There just isn't a type of wax available that would do that, so I had to create my own. Hmmm . . . . . . . maybe I should market it . . . . . . .
These are all made of sterling silver. Not the traditional .925 sterling everyone is familiar with, these are Argentium sterling silver. The major advantage of Argentium sterling is that it doesn't tarnish. Well, it tarnishes exceedingly slowly, always a lovely thing with silver!
The picture shows the roses as they came out of the mold - there are three of them which are all on a common "stem". I later cut them apart. The leaves also were made into a sort of a tree-looking affair to cast and were later cut apart. The wax I created produces that matte finish on the roses. The leaves were made of commercial casting wax, so are smoother and therefore shinier. I polished the roses, which removed the matte and made them shiny, but I didn't like the result so unpolished them again, after which they looked more like the leaf in the third picture.
The picture below shows the third rose, which is behind the two in the above picture. It shows what the roses actually look like without the lamp shining on them. This picture and the one below it will give you just a hint of the end product. :o)
The brownish color in the first picture is due to the lighting when the picture was taken. The roses really are silver-looking, as in the second picture. Well, at least they were . . . . . before I baked them in the oven. Now they have a lovely bronze-ish color. Haven't photographed them since I did that, but will do that shortly.
As I said, stay tuned for pictures of the finished project. Yes, thank you, it was finished this past February. Our professor had a show of her work in the gallery of the college President's office and kindly included work by three of her students, this project being among them.