Here are some notes for members attending our future workshops:


Casting Workshop Weekends at Northern Districts


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.

    Enamelling Workshop 3rd & 4th September 2016

    On the weekend of 3 & 4 September 2016 a group of 7 enamellers set about the task of making works of ART. (See below) People worked very hard to produce and learn new techniques to improve their skills in enamelling and design. A great time was had by all, led by our guru Barbara Try who saved many peoples’ pieces with her skills. A big thank you to her from all of us. Come along; put your name down to join us for the next exciting instalment of enamelling @ NDLC.


    Gem Tree Workshop – 6th August 2016

    Gem Tree WorkshopHelga was well prepared and had glazed all the gem tree base stones and wired most prior to the workshop so the 6 enthusiastic helpers had to use their artistic talent to choose the colour of the “gems” from many that Helga had available and match them with a suitable base. Gluing the “gems” on the wire loops required concentration with a little frustration but the happy group produced some charming gem trees. Thank you Helga for your guidance.


    Enamelling Workshop – 30 & 31 July 2016
    Seven members of the Club arrived bright and early to create some enamelling masterpieces. The class was made up of some very experienced enamellers who knew what they wished to produce to a couple of very novice beginners who needed assistance with ideas and colours. The Club room was soon a hive of industry and with the kiln nice and hot the pieces started to take shape. The work varied from Dusting, Lumps and Threads, Stencil work, using foils and some very complicated pieces of Cloisonné work. Overall the class seemed very happy with the pieces of enamelling they produced.


    Casting Workshop on 23rd and 24th May 2015

    Here are some photos from our recent casting workshop

    Carving Workshop Oct 2013

    Here are some photos from a most enjoyable carving workshop Frances held in Oct 2013.

    Photos from our Casting Workshop Sep 2013

    News from our workshop Jewellery Making For Beginners 2013

    After a slow start on the list of applicants we eventually had 10 starters, all of whom had had little or no experience. Two projects were tackled, a piercing exercise on Saturday to make a pendant; and a soldering exercise on Sunday to make a bracelet. Everyone looks very serious here but there was lots of chatting and laughing as most attractive pieces were created. Sunday found us winding and sawing links for the charm bracelet for which we made a ‘watch chain’ catch. Everyone should have been thoroughly pleased with themselves as without exception all the pieces made could be worn with great pride.
    Jean Macleay

    News from our Carving Workshop July 2012

    Bone or Soft Stone – Saturday 21st and Sunday July 22nd. Eight members attended the free July Carving weekend provided by the G&L Council as part of its education program.

    Nelson Robertson was again our instructor and he was joined by Kathy Selwood for one day. Kathy is a fantastic carver and instructor from the Orange Lapidary Club and was gaining some first-hand experience on how Nelson runs his bone carving courses. She had a magnificent 25cm tall pink/white marble carving of an eagle fighting a snake. She has been working on it for two years and is now up to the final polishing stage. Truly beautiful.

    Our members again produced some great bone carvings and even branched out into some inlay, scrimshaw, soft stone, and intaglio pieces. It was a great course and we are grateful to the G&L Council for this type of initiative to offer Clubs the opportunity to improve and expand their skills and techniques.


    Images from our Casting Weekend 2012

    We enjoyed a weekend of creating beautiful pieces. Click on the images below to see larger photos of our work.



    News from our Wire Wrapping Workshop 2012

    There were 5 participants in our first wire wrapping class of 2012. In just a few industrious hours all of us created a wrapped or caged cabochon ready to attach to a chain or brooch mount.

    We used stirling silver square wire as the body wires which support the stone and a half round stirling silver wire as the wrapping wire.

    The wrapping wires support and bind the square body wires.

    A previously prepared pair of flat nosed pliers was used to form the wrapping wire around the square wires to hold them in place.

    Specially angled bends in the square wires formed part of the cage and all the wires were then tied together at the top with more half round wrapping wire to then form a bale at the top of our stone.

    Elaborate wire designs were then a choice to finish and embellish the bale.

    Our thanks go to our instructor, Prof Lyn Bridson and also to Barbara and Tony.



    News from our Wax Casting Workshop 2011

    Feedback from the Casting Weekend held 2nd and 3rd April and cleanup day 9th April 2011.

    Ten participants undertook the workshop. Three experienced members shared their knowledge to allow the others to learn or brush up the skills necessary to create our silver treasures. Some of us wished to make silver jewellery such as a ring or brooch or pieces for a bracelet or to cast silver pieces from our garden or from nature.

    After deciding on what we wished to cast, the basic process began with making wax models or adapting the organic pieces, we attached them to a tree (or carrier) which was also made of wax. Wax is easy to work with and inexpensive and the organic pieces provided our examples from nature. Some of these organic items required wax reinforcing to strengthen them.

    We had some unique items such as leaves, gum nuts, insects, flowers and other organic items. We used different forms of casting wax, for example, sheet waxes for thin flat pieces, sprue wax for thin
    sections and sticky wax.

    The wax tree, once completed (with organic pieces and created wax pieces attached) is fitted to the base of a metal cylindrical flask using more wax (button). The flask containing the wax model was then filled with investment. The investment is a powdered substance mixed with water that is similar in consistency to liquid plaster. Our wax and organic model, encased in the investment, was then heated in a kiln for several hours. The high temperature of baking in the kiln causes the wax to be lost by melting and vaporisation.

    A perfect cast of our design is thus preserved in the hardened investment and hence the name,
    lost wax casting.

    After the hot flask was removed from the kiln, it was placed in a centrifuge. In the centrifuge, silver grains were heated in the centrifuge crucible until molten then forced into our moulds as the centrifuge spun. Although we used silver, gold or platinum or other metals could be used. After the centrifuge stopped, the silver cast is allowed sufficient time to cool and harden.

    The tree is then exposed by plunging the flask with investment containing the silver into water to reveal an exact replica of the wax or organic originals still on their tree. The button and sprue tree are
    cut away and filed off the pieces.

    The metal is washed and/or pickled, cleaned and dried.

    For some examples of what we produced, the centrifuge, flasks and one of the silver trees, please see the photos.

    Thanks to our three instructors/facilitators Barbara, Sharon and Richard for their time encouragement and patience.

    Thanks also to Bert for his “deflagatory” skills.

    Article by Rod Powell



    Wax Carving

    Mark Young ran a series of wax carving lessons for us on Saturdays over 3 consecutive weeks.

    Those who attended the last series enjoyed the classes, and thanks to Mark’s expert tuition came up with beautiful results. Lessons were learnt about casting larger items, a technique we had not tried before,and we will know how to go about this much better next time.

    If another series is held next year a sheet will been placed on the notice board for those who would be interested in attending, to add their name.



    One of our talented members ran a wonderfull beading workshop. This one day workshop was limited to 10 people and cost $10.00.

    For future reference here are the details in case another day is held. Please bring your lunch and a hand-towel along with a selection of beads to make a necklace and 2 pair of earrings. Beads can be purchased at a number of places including Spotlight & Big W. There could be a nominal charge for other basic materials that the Club can supply.

    Please contact Nivea for any additional information.

    A list will be put on the notice board in the Cutting Room for those members who are interested in attending.



    Enamelling workshops have been run each year.

    Members attending have sometimes found that working bowls was considerably more difficult than working flat shapes. The challenges faced by all concerned were met with some original thinking and the experience of Annette Clarke from the Central Coast Lapidary Club, who we were fortunate to have with us for the day.

    By the end of a long day we believe that most of the participants learned a lot and were happy with the end result

    Kevin Davey reports that a successful afternoon was spent with our junior members with Barbara Try sharing her knowledge.

    Some interesting and outstanding designs were produced in a short time, our juniors are very enthusiastic and keen to absorb all aspects of lapidary.

    Here is a photo of some items created during the afternoon.

    In an earlier enameling workshop members spent a full day experimenting with colours and shapes.

    From all reports it was a great day with first timers quickly grasping the processes required while those who had been before reinforced techniques in preparation for future workshops where more complicated methods and different pieces will be attempted.


    Precious Metal Clay

    Members attending our precious metal clay workshop were impressed by the techniques and success they enjoyed, guided by our Instructor Margaret Lightfoot. A lovely and informative book titled “Introduction to Precious Metal Clay” by Mary Ann Devos has been purchased for the members and is now available for use within the club from the reference section of the club’s library.