[Ansteorra] wax sculpture

Hillary Greenslade hillaryrg at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 6 10:10:53 PST 2010

Greetings Tangwystl, 
If not experienced in lost wax metal casting, I might suggest you check to see 
if there is a local gem and mineral society in your area.  They probably have a 
setup for casting and will have folks with professional experience to assist 
you.   Also, check any local arts and crafts guilds or centers, and perhaps the 
local college art departments.  It's a good idea to get someone who has done 
casting before to assist you the first time, as it can be a dangerous process 
dealing with the hot elements.  

There are also a few good books on the subject, I can recommend two: 
Centrifugal or Lost Wax Jewelry Casting Book by Murray Bovin, it's a pretty 
complete technical book
Practical Casting: A Studio Reference Book by Tim McCreight

I'm not sure if beeswax would have been the wax of choice for historical metal 
casting, perhaps an amalgum of beeswax and some other waxes may have been 
possible; but I've not done the historical research, so not sure.   Else, I 
believe that some molds were made based on a wood or clay carving that had a 
clay shaped around it, and when the clay dried, the wood sculpture was removed, 
the metal was then poured into the clay mold... there have been some molds found 
in period.   

If you intend to do lost wax casting, you would carve your wax piece, invest it 
in a plaster of paris type material, with sprue holes setup, then burn out the 
wax carving in a hot kiln, then pour the molten metal into the hollowed out 
plaster usually using a centrifuge, when cooled, split apart the two halves of 
the plaster and remove the harden metal object.   If you create your wax object, 
you can get it commercially cast.      

You may want to consider using one of the current metalsmith carving waxes, they 
come in three hardness strengths usually; then use an alcohol lamp and some wax 
carving tools to carve out your shape.   

You may want to check out the SCA (or pre-1600s) metalcasting group on Yahoo, 

Post message: Metalcasting at yahoogroups.com 
Subscribe: Metalcasting-subscribe at yahoogroups.com 

Good luck, Hillary


I'm trying to make something out of wax so I can make a mold around it and
cast it in pewter.  However, I tried beeswax, having read that it was soft,
as well as being available in period, and found it awful to work with.  It
was really hard and flaky, and I melted it, then when it was still warm, but
not solid, tried to sculpt it, using a hairdryer to warm it up when it
started to get too hard onthe outside.  But it kind of had a consistency
like mashed potatoes and broke apart really easily, and then I was unable to
get the pieces to melt back together.  So my question is, does anyone have
any experience with wax sculpture, and if so, could you tell me what kind of
wax I should be using or how I should be working with it?

Tangwystl verch Gruffydd
Kristina J. Dombroski
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2010 16:32:35 -0600
From: Kristina Dombroski <krysna at crystaldaggerclothing.com>
To: ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org
Subject: [Ansteorra] wax sculpture

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