Surface casting with the Garnet Blocks will give your work a beautiful sandcast texture. The amazing thing about this procedure is that your Garnet Blocks can be used over and over again (See the instructions on resurfacing). To do surface castings with the Garnet Block you will need your Garnet Casting and Soldering Blocks, some scrap silver, carving tools, torch, and pickling solutions.
Carve your design into the Garnet Casting Block with carving tools. You can also stamp your design in with silver or leather stamps. Be careful not to carve or stamp any deeper than 1/8" into the Garnet Block. Even shallow carvings will show up in beautiful detail on the cast product. Make your design small initially until you gain experience. We recommend starting with a design of about 1/2" to 3/4" in diameter.
Follow steps one through five of the instructions for making plate. Be sure to make a piece of plate about 1/4" larger than the design you will want to cast. Place the piece of prepared plate over your carving, overlapping the design all the way around.
Heat your plate with the torch until the plate reaches the molten stage and the edge of the silver shrinks to about the size of your carving (see Step Four of the instructions for making plate). Wet your Garnet Soldering Block and have it ready in your other hand while still holding the torch. Remove the heat and immediately use the bottom of your Garnet Soldering Block to press the silver firmly into the carving. Use a rolling action to obtain the best results. If the metal does not fill the carving it means that the metal was not hot enough underneath. You may have to repeat this step several times until you are sure the carving is completely filled with silver. With practice you will get a feel for the process.
Use tweezers to lift the casting off the block and follow the same pickling procedure as you did in making the plate (see Step Five of the instructions for making plate). You may notice that small pieces of the block have come off with the cast. This happens because the molten metal is pressed into the pores of the Garnet Block. This is the sign of a good cast since the metal has completely filled the mold. Unfortunately, it means you can only use the mold a few times. However, you can resurface the block to be used for numerous other carvings (see the instructions on resurfacing). See the instructions on finishing a piece to complete the project.
J.B. Bown shows how to press molten silver into a cast using the Garnet Casting Block.
Notice how he holds his torch and the Casting Block at the same time.
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