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3rd Class: Casting – Day 2

Today was the last day of classes for this year’s Winter Workshop at Rio Grande in Albuquerque.  For me, that meant the second day of the Casting Class with Phil Scott and Gregg Burgard (who has another web site out there too, for his beautiful glass art, but it is still trying to load in the background as I type this, so hopefully it will load faster for you.    I’ll have to try again when I get home.  That being said, you can also find some of his work over on his Facebook page too.)  In today’s class we took the wax pieces we’d invested and cast them, as well as learning about how to make silicon molds to use in duplicating a pattern.  The silver pieces we cast were then cleaned and dropped in a pickle solution to clean off the metal, leaving it a whitish color.  We did not have time or handy tools to shine them up today though, so they will still look white in my photo.  This meant that I had to put them on top of the little green box that Rio had provided us so that you could see the contrast.  The other pictures I’ve been taking on the bedspread in the hotel room this year, and the white on white wouldn’t have shown up as well:

Three sterling silver charms and a wax arrowhead pattern with dime for size comparison

Three cast sterling silver charms and a wax arrowhead pattern with dime shown for size comparison.

I threw a dime into the image so you could see the size of the little charms we cast.  The red arrowhead was one I made that I used one of their demo molds for, to try out the wax injection system, after Gregg had shown us how to make and cut the molds.  That is something that has intrigued me for a long while now and it was very exciting to learn it.  The arrowhead got a bit smooshed on it’s way back to the hotel though, so if I decide to cast it I’d need to repair the bail and add a sprue first.  Both were already on there when I pulled it from the mold though.  Mind you, it took three tries before I managed to get one of those out of the mold with a bail intact.  There’s a little bit of a learning curve in bending the silicon enough to get the piece out safely when there are looping bits like that.

The bulk of the casting was shown using a centrifugal casting machine.  I love centrifugal casting, but had only seen huge machines for it and didn’t have the space to consider that for my studio.  The one I linked is the one they used today, and it is much more compact and far less dangerous to manipulate than the huge ones I was accustomed to.  The machine I purchased a while back was, instead, a vacuum casting machine that looks similar to this one, that I’ve had some problems with.  So, when I asked, I was one of the people who were allowed to do their casting on the vacuum machine they were demonstrating on.  I was also able to get a few insights on what might be the problem with mine, so maybe when I get home I can get it running properly.  If not, I’ll just call Rio and their techs can help me figure it out.  Yes, this week I am a walking, blogging, neon advertising sign for all of Rio’s capabilities.  lol.  Now if only I was so good at marketing my own stuff…

Today was a bit frustrating for me as I realized that while I hate to have classes be over, I don’t know that I could do one more day in a row without a break.  My health isn’t always the greatest and today the week caught up to me.  But I did manage to get through it without stopping.  I did slow down a couple of times though, to the point where a couple of people noticed.  I’ll be glad to get home and spend Sunday resting with the family and getting back into my rhythm.  Once we make the move out to Colorado I hope to see my health improve with the dry air and altitude there.  Not to mention the mountains that just call “Climb me!  Come explore!” to me whenever I see them.  The exercise from that ought to toughen me back up.  Not to mention be fuel for my creativity in making new jewelry.  Not that I haven’t had several design ideas during this week alone.  Perhaps Rio Grande is my muse… 😉

I need to let this week percolate a little before I try to sum it all up.  Tomorrow will disappear in travel and Sunday will be “family time,” I’m sure.  So, sometime during the week I will have to get another post in on this trip.  And now that I’ve started blogging here I will hopefully keep up with more posts on the progress as I take my little home studio and turn it into my career.




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