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  • Ellen Hunt

Casting About

I rented a jewelry studio this summer, complete with a casting setup. I've been doing my own casting for the past few years, but always with an expert at hand to give advice and answer the always emerging questions that I have. Lost wax casting is a science, and an art, with a bit of chance thrown in for good measure to always keep me guessing. The elements that affect the final outcome include heat, humidity, how long the burn out is in the kiln and how quickly the kiln heats up. Then factor in unknown and unforeseeable flaws in the metal, and you can imagine that even when all the steps are followed precisely, the outcome may vary. I've been having a great time casting, learning how to handle the hot crucible as it comes out of the kiln (at about 900-1000°) and goes into the centrifugal casting machine, all while keeping the metal molten without burning or boiling it. To do it all gracefully, three hands are needed, but I've gotten this dance down to a medium shuffle. With some practice, it will all flow smoothly. In the meantime, I'm getting used to the pace of the burnout, the texture of the investment on a hot day vs. a scorching hot day, this is Texas after all, and making friends with the local assayer, who I'm visiting weekly to replenish and recycle my metal. I can't think of a more interesting way to spend a summer!

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