Project #1: A Simple Cast Pendant

This first project, a simple pendant cast in the Garnet Block, is a good place for beginners to start. The most difficult part of the casting process is being able to judge when the hot metal is ready to be pressed into the mold. This definitely will require some practice and experimentation on your part. Project One will get you feeling comfortable with your tools and with the process. Keep trying until you feel that you can judge the readiness of the metal. Do not let the simplicity of the process fool you. As you can see, casting with the Garnet Block can produce some intricate and beautiful jewelry.

Carve the design into the Garnet Casting Block.

Carving the design

With a sharp tool (we use a dentist's pick) carve the design you wish to cast into the surface of the Garnet Block. You will want to keep the carving fairly shallow, no deeper than 1/8", in order to ensure that the metal will flow smoothly and fully into the grooves. As you can see from the photo, your design can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose. It is, however, a good idea to limit it's diameter to 1 1/2". It is difficult to keep your metal uniformly hot if it has to cover too great an area. For your first project, a smaller diameter of 3/4" will give you more control and keep frustration to a minimum.

Heat the plate to make a cast piece.

Preparing the metal for casting

J.B.'s son Wil bypasses making plate and casts his designs by placing scrap metal directly on the carving and melting it together before pressing it into the mold. Preparing a good piece of plate slightly larger than your design, however, will give you extra control and will save you the trouble under or overestimating the amount of metal you'll need for the cast. Detailed instructions on making plate are included in the second section of this book.

Cast piece just out of the mold.


With your prepared piece of plate in hand, you are ready to begin casting the pendant. Place the plate over the carving and moving your torch in a circular motion, heat the plate until it is red hot. Continue heating the plate, watching it carefully. When the edges begin to ball up, it is ready to be pressed into the mold with another Garnet Block. As we said earlier, the hardest part of the process is recognizing when the metal is ready. Keep at it if it does not work the first time. Remember, if the metal is too hot, it will spatter and run when you press it. If it has not been heated enough it will stick to the block you are pressing with, rather than the filling the mold. Only when you feel that the carving has been adequately filled, carefully remove the plate with brass tongs and pickle as outlined in the instructions from section two.

create the jump ring
solder the jump ring

Soldering the jump ring

Make your own jump ring by bending 16 or 18 gauge silver wire into a loop with a pair of round nosed pliers. Cut off the extra wire at the joint. Next, carve a groove into the Garnet Block so that the jump ring will stay perpendicular to the pendent. Place the jump ring into the groove so that the joint sits level with the surface of the Garnet Block. Set the pendant into place so that the top edge touches the joint of the jump ring. Using tweezers, place soldering snips at the juncture of the loop and pendant. With the torch, direct the heat to the end of the pendant opposite of the jump ring. Once this end is hot, move the heat around in a circular motion until the solder has melted and flowed into place. Remove the heat immediately. You now have a pendant that is ready to be finished and attached to a leather string. For suggestions on polishing and finishing, see the instructions in section two.

| Project #2: A Pendant, Cast using Jewelers Cast | Contents | Introduction | Title |

© BownCo 1994