weekTwo - Casting
This week we’ll be fleshing out the next stage of the production process - Casting.
I apologise for the delay between posts. Week Two of this blog series didn’t come in the true definition of a Weekly Blog; the Christmas beat down had me pulling hours I didn’t know existed and as the way priorities function, ‘training up potential competitors with weekly posts’ wasn’t leading the charge. Nonetheless, here it is.
Casting, simply refers to the setting of a molten alloy (such as sterling silver) and in particular to the process we use, Lost Wax Casting is the method in which the wax will become a metal cast of what you have carved.
This segment of the process will more than likely be taken on by a casting house, but I may as well give you a mega quick run down on how it works. I will leave out all the technical jargon…not in a pompous manner, just purely because I can’t remember it. Believe me, I would love to flex some tech knowledge, but the last few years my brain has forced out a bunch relevant info, to make space for pointless Simpsons quotes and old MySpace passwords.
So, once a casting house receives your wax, they will attach it to a ‘tree’ with several other waxes to be cast in the same metal. This tree will then be put in a cylinder like object and covered in a plaster. This cylinder is heated in a casting oven/kiln and the wax will melt out the bottom, leaving a detailed cavity with the shape and design of your piece.
This cylinder will then be placed on it’s side and set onto, what I can only really describe as a 'spinning pole', in a large magnet driven drum - the molten silver is poured at the base of the cylinder and as the pole spins around the drum, the silver shoots up into the tree, filling the cavities.
The ring will then be cut off the tree and given back to you, ready for finishing.
Sift through these ramblings and you have yourself the process. No doubt it’s peppered with technical and spelling errors - but the basic concept is there.
Now, specifics - Where to cast?
As we are based on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, I can really only give my review of local casting houses. But you will be able to find one local to you, just by searching “Casting Houses..”
There are three main casting houses in Sydney that we have used; Pure Castings, Rapid and Palloys. All based in Marrickville. I will add the links below.
Pure Casting is a smaller Casting House, which I first started off with. They have a smaller company feel and the head of production, Paul, is a good egg and will sit with you for hours to show you the ropes. Good friendly feel in this joint, however after a few mistakes and missed orders, I had to give them the flick. But a great starting point before high volumes come into play. Also very affordable - probably the cheapest.
Rapid I have only used a couple of times, but they definitely have the best online system. Super efficient and easy to use. Fairly small casting house as well, run by a younger team who would love to help out. However, you will pay slightly higher silver and casting prices.
We currently have settled down with Palloys Group, as we found this to suit our needs best. As they would be the largest casting house in Australia and a part of a big parent company, you get that feel - a little disconnected from the process and people that work there, but they deliver on a real professional service. They have casting houses in NSW, VIC, QLD and WA, so this covers Australia for all you! They also provide every essential part of the process you may need - finishing, stone setting, CAD, findings etc. They do it all.
So bringing it back to the end of weekOne - where do you stand? With a carved wax and needing casting… Get on the blower to one of these casting houses and let them know you want to cast a ring. All you will need to do is send in your wax, protected in cotton wool and a hard box - with a simple instruction on what alloy you want it to be cast in; Sterling Silver, Brass, Gold etc.
Hope this was able to point you in the right direction for the second stage of the production cycle - and in our next post, like a pissed uncle leaning from the back seat to take the wheel, I’ll steer you through the finishing process.
Palloys Group - https://palloys.com.au/
Pure Casting - http://www.purecasting.com.au/
Rapid - http://www.rapidprototype.com.au/