Here are some notes for members attending our future workshops:

Casting Workshop Weekends at the Northern Districts Lapidary Club

Workshop organisation

The casting workshop will run for two consecutive days over a weekend. Participants must be able to attend both days.

  1. A maximum of 10 participants will be planned for and a maximum of 2 novices will be allowed (unless approved otherwise by the instructor).
  2. The workshop costs are $25.00 per participant (including the investment powder but excluding purchases of wax items, silver, etc., available from the NDLC shop).
  3. Participants not having at least a basic tool kit (refer to the list below) will not be admitted.
  4. All participants will be asked to be punctual, as to avoid holding up all others. All participants will be asked to adhere to the requests of the instructor.
  5. The instructor will not tolerate any unsafe practices and / or unsafe equipment.
  6. It is advisable that participants have already an idea what to cast and bring e.g. natural items like leaves or gum nuts, wax models or commercial models, cotton lace items, etc., to sprue.

Day 1

  1. Saturday will start at 9 am sharp with the induction, covering the safety hazards and the casting item requirements.
  2. After selecting a pot, all participant will be guided to organise their models for casting, then completing the casting tree. Novices will get any advice needed.
  3. The instructor will examine casting trees in progress as required and / or requested. All completed trees will be examined prior to investment pouring.
  4. Lunch will start at approx. 12.30 pm. All participants must aim to have all work completed by then.
  5. At 1:30 pm, preparations for investment pouring will start, the investment pouring itself will start the latest at 2 pm. Participants will be asked to volunteer for tasks.
  6. The completed pots must settle overnight.
  7. All participants must calculate the weight of their silver (gold) required and place the silver (gold) into cups (best results being achieved with a total silver weight below 100 gram, the absolute maximum which can be used 160 gram.
  8. The fee for the workshop plus any money for wax / shop items purchased will be collected. Day 1 should finish at approx. 4 pm.

Day 2

  1. The instructor will place the pots into the kilns, increasing the temperature of the kilns gradually, so the models burn out completely (hence “lost wax casting”).
  2. The instructor will install and check the centrifuge and organise the firing gear.
  3. The participants are not required to be present until the firing starts at 2 pm sharp but all are encouraged to meet for lunch at 12:30 (and discuss the casting process).
  4. One by one, a silver (gold) load will be placed in the crucible and molten, the corresponding pot placed into the centrifuge, which will then be triggered to spin.
  5. After a waiting period, every participant will pick up his / her pot and plunge it into the prepared water bucket, in which the investment powder will shoot out sidewards.
  6. There is time allowed to cut cast pieces off the tree and to scrub them clean. Nevertheless, there will be no time to polish the pieces. Day 2 should finish at approx. 4 pm as well.

What to bring to the casting workshop

(a comprehensive guide, you may not use all, the crucial items are in bold below).

      • A cutting board.
      • A tripod & mesh (or stable burner housing), a methanol burner and a wax melting cup (with handle) or electric melting pot. Note: The melting arrangement must be safe / stable.
      • Various dentist tools / wax sprucing & carving tools. The most critical one is a Lecron (pictured below). Warning: Without having at least basic tools, the instructor will not accept a participant. Note: These tools are not available in the club.
    Lecron Dental Tool

    Lecron Dental Tool

      • A battery driven wax melting pen (e.g. a MaxWax); not mandatory but very handy.
      • A thin needle (in a cork to ensure safety).
      • A pen, a sharp pointed texter, and notice paper.
      • Bristle brushes (narrow ones and wider ones), to be used to layer wax on the backs of leaves or other fine objects.
      • Your desired models, e.g. leaves, seeds, nuts, wax mould models, etc.
      • Silver / gold (in small, clean pieces) at least 50% new. Some silver can be purchased from the shop.
      • Wax sheets, sprue sticks, sticky wax, mould wax, melting wax, etc. All these can be purchased from the shop.
      • Plastic tweezers.
      • A calculator and flat-bed scales (capacity at least 200 gram, resolution at least 1 gram).
      • A scalpel (or a very sharp, pointy knife).
      • Wooden dowels for rings (approx. 10 cm long, diameter as per the rings).
      • Moulds for wax models. The instructor may make some available.
      • A small water bowl, if you want to pour wax into water. The club will have one available.
  • Here is a leaflet you may download and print, describing our casting workshop weekends for members, what’s involved and what to bring as described above plus some more photographs Casting Weekend at the NDLC File Size is 346 KB File Type is pdf.

 Casting – great fun for all participants

Casting workshops are routinely organised on weekends in the colder months, two to four times a year. The participants can be creative by selecting models from nature or making their own models from wax (instead of simply buying industrial models). The main idea of using casting techniques is “texture, texture, texture”. Even fine details, like the hairs of a Geranium leave or the stamen of an orchid, will “survive” the casting process, if done properly. Raised, indented or cut out surfaces make castings genuinely unique. The resulting silver or gold jewellery, e.g. rings, brooches, pendants, pieces for a bracelet or a larger metal object for a competition, often reflect the artistic prowess of the participant. Once properly cleaned and polished, the casts are real sparkling treasures. The casts can be further enhanced later on, either by combining several casts, or adding facetted stones or cabochons, or using enamelling techniques.

During a casting workshop, discipline of participants is crucial, be it bringing in required tools, working safely with hot tools, avoiding spill accidents, or being punctual for the important parts. Participants will be asked to volunteer for casting tasks, e.g. helping pouring the investment, marking and moving pots, taking the pots from the kiln to the centrifuge, etc. Without this help, the casting workshop cannot be successful, as the instructor cannot do everything.

Every casting workshop will be announced well ahead of time in Lapis and a participants’ sheet will be displayed on the board in the cutting room. If you have any questions about casting, call the instructor under the number on that sheet.

Please find above this article a casting information sheet.

The photos below this article show either working steps during a casting weekend, wax trees and models, or completed castings.

    • Enamelling Workshop

    • Costs:  Beginners using Club Enamels – $25.00
    • Experienced Enamellers using their own Enamels – $15.00
    • Equipment for beginners – while you will be working on copper shapes, you need to bring along the following items.
      • Towel
      • Fine tweezers
      • Fine paint brush
      • Flat Bladed knife
      • Elastic bands
      • Disposable gloves
      • Notebook & pen

      Must wear closed in shoes. A face mask and a fork are provided

      Equipment for More experienced Enamellers – if you wish to work on silver it is suggest that you purchase 0.7mm piece of FINE silver. It must be fine silver otherwise you will have problems with fire scale. Cloisonné wire 0.8mm x 0.15mm (this usually comes in packets of 1 metre from A & E Metals.

      • All the above bits
      • a pair of small sharp scissors to cut the cloisonné wire
      • Very fine paint brushes
      • Mandrels to help make circles and other shapes
      • Fine pliers
      • A plastic screw top jar X 2
      • Some very small craft containers
      • Head visor
      • A small tool to scoop enamel approx.20cm long (see pictures)
    • Finished Items

      An Enamelled Trinket Box – done with cloisonné and silver foil.

      More Cloisonné Work

      Basic Enamelled Designs on Copper

      More Enamelling Photos

Carving Workshop

Here are some photos from a previous carving workshop.

Jewellery Making Workshop

Typical projects include a piercing exercise to make a pendant and a soldering exercise to make a bracelet.

Wire Wrapping Workshop

In just a few industrious hours everyone should be able to create a wrapped or caged cabochon ready to attach to a chain or brooch mount. Stirling silver square wire is typically used as the body wires which support the stone and a half round stirling silver wire is used as the wrapping wire. The wrapping wires support and bind the square body wires.