Over the next few weeks, I’ll be fleshing out the production process that we use at Crooked Howlet Designs to give you a proper insight on what is going into each piece and equip you with the tools to design, create and finish your own ring.
I’ll give you all the info, as well as current places to purchase everything you need and point you in the right direction of the services we trust and use. Essentially, after this, you’ll be gunning for a shot at the title.
weekONE – Concepting and Wax Carving
As with most things in life, the first stage is generally the hardest to kick-off. You’re usually running in blind and fairly clueless. I’ll give you a play by play on how you can start, today…and I’ll probably ditch the sporting analogies.
Concepting doesn’t need to take any particular form. I always hear about these designers taking inspiration from particular processes or drawing on the beauty or obscurity in nature…fuck that. An idea will come to you on the ass-end of a bender or while picking at a scab. Save all that pretentious smack talk for when your telling some online blogger about the idea being a born out of the “vulnerability of man”. They love it..
The method in which we create our designs, is called Lost Wax Casting (will explain in full later) and we hand-carve the designs from carving wax - specifically, blue carving wax. You can purchase these waxes online very easily by just typing in Jewellers Carving Wax, or use riogrande.com otherwise, in Sydney you can call into AJS (Australia Jewellery Supply). The brand and type we use is called Matt Blue Wax Ring Tube. The colours represent the density/hardness of the wax, so how difficult it is to carve - blue being the softest. I’d recommend blue or green (slightly tougher).
When it comes to carving your piece, you’ll need:
· Files – large and small needle files.
· Carving tools
· Ring Tube sizer
· Measuring device or ring template
Not all of the above is necessary – some items will just make your life easier in the long haul. If you’ve got a cracking eye for symmetry and design. you’ll be sweet.
Once you have a general idea for the design, mark off an appropriate section of the wax ring tube and cut it off with a wax cutter or even just a bog standard hack saw. Try and keep this cut square, it will make everything easier. So measure off the section with a ruler and keep it at a 90 degree angle.
The Ring Tube Sizer is a necessity, it just carves out the inside of the ring tube to the size you want it. https://www.riogrande.com/Product/Matt-Ring-Tube-Sizer/700570
Dividers make it easy measure even distances for all your cutting/filing – definitely get this involved in the process as much as you can. You will split a distance between the points then mark out the cutting areas on the wax. http://jewellerssupplies.com.au/dividers-german-75mm-p-1282.html
From here, you’re on your own. Go ham. Let loose on the piece of wax with your carving tools and files. Large files to get the piece close to the shape, smaller files for finer areas and the carving tools to carve out your details. For the carving tools, literally just get a pack of cheap tools from China and use a stone to shape the tools the way you want them.
Whether your carving an anatomical skull or a plain band you’ve got some hours ahead of you and some frustrating times. Be patient and pluck away at it slowly. Remember your only taking a small shaving of wax away each time, so it is easy to correct and get fine detail, just takes time.
You will have the opportunity to fix this piece up once it is in silver, but get it as close to perfect as you can with the fine files and sandpaper – as it is a lot easier to play around with in wax than silver.
Rip in and next week, I’ll outline the process of getting the piece cast into metal and finishing the product.