Casting with Jewelers Cast

This was J.B.'s greatest discovery. It will give you greater creative leeway in surface casting than casting with the Garnet Blocks. The clay-like quality of the Jewelers Cast will take just about any model or shape you care to impress. You can make a silver replica of this model. You can also experiment with different materials to obtain a variety of patterns or textures. Try wire mesh, wood to get a wood grain texture, or other things from nature like leaves, nuts, or shells. Hard plastic models, pewter figures, and previously cast pieces have worked well for us as central design elements. Use your imagination in combining design elements to create many interesting and beautiful pieces. You will need Jewelers Cast powder, Garnet Casting Block, water, tweezers, an acetylene torch, and the usual pickling solutions.

mix paste
make patty
level patty

Step One

Mix a measure of Jewelers Cast with water to the consistency of a thick paste. The Jewelers Cast is reusable so you will want to keep it in a permanent mixing container with a good lid. Remember when you were a kid and would make mud pies? Well, this is your chance to go back to those days. With a little practice you'll get to know just how much water is enough. There are three important states of the Jewelers Cast to familiarize yourself with: the wet state, the evaporated state, and the dry state.

Step Two

The wet state, in which the cast resembles a thick wet paste, is needed for making a patty. At this stage the material is too sticky to take an impression. Place a pile of wet Jewelers Cast on your Garnet Block and level it with the metal spatula to a thickness needed for your casting model.

Step Three

The second state, or the evaporated state, is the ideal stage for making a mold. To achieve this state, let the patty sit for 15 - 30 minutes. Water from the Jewelers Cast will absorb into the Garnet Block and evaporate into the air. When the surface is dull, not shiny, it is most likely ready for use. You can test the patty further by tapping it lightly with a spatula. If the patty is sticky or water comes to the surface, wait a little longer. When the Jewelers Cast is no longer sticky, tap your model into it firmly with a small hammer. You can use the metal spatula to steady the model as you tap it.

Step Four

Carefully lift the model out of the Jewelers Cast. Rinse off the bits of sand and dry with a paper towel. Place the model back into the Jewelers Cast and tap gently. Repeat this step until you are satisfied with the detail and depth of the cast. If you are using more than one design element, follow the same procedure for each element. You may complete this step by giving a unique texture to the design.

The last two states of a Jewelers Cast mold.
(evaporated state on the left, dry state on the right)

Step Five

The dry state is crucial to the success of your project. There must be no moisture left in the patty or steam will push the silver out of the mold or cause it to bubble during casting. After impressing the design into the patty, let it sit 4 - 8 hours (overnight for best results) until completely dry. It will become a light gray color and have a crusted appearance. To shorten the drying time, you can heat the Jewelers Cast for a few minutes with your torch to harden it. We do not recommend this because the flame creates a film that seals the natural venting of the Jewelers Cast.

Step Six

J.B. prefers to begin casting with a prepared piece of plate. Follow steps two through four of the instructions for casting with the Garnet Blocks. An alternate method, preferred by J.B.'s son Wil, eliminates the step of making a prepared piece of plate. Place a pile of scrap metal onto the mold. Heat it with a torch, using a circular motion, until the metal balls-up. Position the soft metal into the mold with a pointed tool like an awl, then wet the Garnet Casting Block and press the molten metal into the mold. With Wil's method, wait a few seconds longer to press the metal than you would with J.B.'s.

Step Seven

Let the metal cool back to a dull, red color before removing. Pickle the piece as usual. It is ready to be trimmed, polished and buffed. Instructions on our preference for finishing a piece will follow the sections on soldering and fusing with the Garnet Blocks and Jewelers Cast.

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© BownCo 1994