AMS Spring 2023

Make All the Things Part 2: Ring Creation and Casting a Wax Ring, Part 1

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A curious mind and a makerspace results in interesting potential. Previously I had explained my intention to create a ring with the materials in my local MakerSpace of Pumping Station One. The last month was dedicated to a bunch of preparation and learning the process. It has been an immense experience that is still continuing, but I will inform everyone about the first developments of this project and follow ups as needed. 

Original Ring Design

Firstly, I was curious and wandering around Pumping Station One and learned about the Small Metals Area. I just saw the material there and realized what I could do almost instantaneously. I am a firm component of being able to create items for oneself. It is a very empowering mindset to realize that we can do things for ourselves. Coming up with an idea and driving it to completion is a great feeling and experience. Honestly, it is one of the best feelings I get within this world. But let’s stop my geeking out, and let’s get into the details.

I wanted a lion ring. I then put in substantial effort towards this goal. To create this ring I utilized carver’s wax initially for the body of the piece. Then I found a 3D printed lionhead online that I thought was stylish. This then was used for the front facing design of the model. I attached this onto the ring body with sticky wax in a uniform manner. This then created my prototypical design for a ring. The majority of the work done in this stage was dedicated to sanding, as well as molding the ring, to the specific weight I wanted to use. This work took a couple of days of crafting, but now that I understand the process more, it will take even less time than the next time I want to do this. 

Kiln

The next part of this project was filled with lots of hot wax and continuous failure. Sprues of hot wax are needed in terms of attaching a model. This model is plastic and wax, which means that it will be burned within a kiln for metal creation purposes. Chemistry is a fun thing, but I digress.

The sprues must be attached in almost a tree-like structure in order for an item to be cast from plastic or wax into a metal such as silver. This tree structure is placed in a container. In order to cast this, we utilize silicon powder. The silicon powder is weighed in terms of a conversion sheet that a jeweler would use. Then it is mixed with water in order to create a gel. This gel is placed into the aforementioned container and it is left there until it hardens. Once it hardens the container is prepped for placement within the kiln. Mind you, a kiln temperature is around 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. So it is indeed a dangerous process if one is not careful.

Ring After

Once the container is taken out of the kiln, it is now important to understand the conversion of plastic or wax into metal. The tree like structure built is now flipped upside down. A metal of a choice is also melted at a very high temperature. Again, high temperatures are dangerous. Fortunately, I had the help of people at Pumping Station One. This metal is then poured into the container that was taken out of the kiln. The molten metal travels down the tree-like system and it effectively burns the plastic and wax. The silicon powder essentially holds the piece in place and creates a barrier so that the material does not dissipate and lose form. When the molten metal cools down, the container then may be taken to a water bath for cooling. This then concludes the first part of the process. What is needed after this is post-processing, and I will tackle that in a new article.

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