How to make models for casting pewter jewellery

Written by rebecca suzanne delaney | 13/05/2017
How to make models for casting pewter jewellery
Casting jewellery in pewter requires careful attention to detail. (Getty Creative)

Pewter is very popular for fashion jewellery, sculpture and other small household objects. Pewter is a less expensive alternative to silver or gold. Casting allows a designer to create an attractive, innovative model and then cast many duplicates of that model that will all look substantially the same. Carving a wax model is the traditional method to make models for casting pewter jewellery. Although there are many new methods of making models for casting pewter jewellery (including using metal clay), carving the model from wax is still the most commonly used technique as wax is considerable less expensive than metal clay and many other modern model making materials.

Things you need

  • Paper and pencil

  • Carving wax

  • Carving tools

  • Steel wool

  • Old pantyhose

Sketch the design for your model. Consider the size of both the model and the finished casting when you sketch. Pewter is a softer metal than bronze or silver so the pewter castings must be over 2mm thick or they will tend to wear out or break off. Depending on use, the model may need to be substantially thicker than 2mm.

Measure the amount of wax you need to carve your piece. Mark the wax and cut off a piece for carving with a mitre box.

Carve your design.

Check for sizing as you work.

Smooth the wax. Imperfections in the model will be in the final cast pewter. Begin smoothing the wax by using steel wool. When most imperfections are gone, begin using nylon pantyhose to remove all remaining imperfections.

Tips

  • Pewter (tin) casting is a different process than lost wax casting. Pewter requires multiple models since pewter is cast directly into rubber moulds. Pewter casting is most suited for large production runs. To cast pewter, most casters makes a master mould of the model and then duplicates it to create 20 or 30 copies of the model. The models are cleaned up and placed into one rubber mould. There are many tools available to carve wax models for casting pewter jewellery. Jewellery supply houses make specialised wax carving tools. Old dental tools and pottery, polymer clay and metal clay sculpting tools are also great for carving wax models for casting pewter jewellery.

Warnings

  • It is easy to make a model from wax, but it is difficult to make a model well. A common error beginning model makers tend to make is spending not enough time finishing the model to remove imperfections before casting.

Things you need

  • Paper and pencil
  • Carving wax
  • Carving tools
  • Steel wool
  • Old pantyhose

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