Patty McFall

I liked making things before I knew I was an artist. Early on it didn’t matter if it was painting murals on my kids’ walls or building a dog house. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know “how” to do any of it or even have the right tools. It wasn’t important that I knew ahead of time if it would be a success – there was just joy in the doing.

When I found sculpting those feelings all made sense to me… I was an artist. I found inspiration in all the details and loved being able to transform a lump of clay to capture a precise moment of expressed emotion. The challenge for me was to control the urge to “do it all” and just focus on one medium. But the creative opportunities of designing and making jewelry was so intriguing to me I just couldn’t resist. I wholly embraced this smaller sculptural version of artistic expression. Whether fabrication or casting I apply the organic elements of nature and the flowing graceful lines I loved in my sculpting experience. It was an easy transition from sculpting in clay to carving in wax – both use the lost wax casting process but with jewelry I am casting in precious metals in my own studio rather then using a foundry.

Look through the slideshow below of my casting process.

The First step is to create the image you want to cast.

In this step it is important to pay attention to any flaws, dings or crumbs left in your creation as they will still be there after the casting.

If you intend to set a stone this might be the time to create the bezel. You should keep in mind the shrinkage that will occur.

After you are satisfied with your piece it is time to build a sprue system for the molten metal to flow through.

Then it is mounted on a rubber base that the flask will fit on and which gets filled with the investment material.

When the burn out process is complete it is time to melt the metal, in this case it is sterling silver.

It must liquefy and be at the same temperature as the flask coming out of the kiln.

Note the flask is now on the vacuum casting machine.

My husband made me this wonderful contraption as a 3rd hand to allow me to carefully move the flask from the kiln to the VAC machine.

The metal must stay fluid all the way through the pour.

After the flask cools down a bit it is time to quench it in a bucket of water. Still very hot.

After the water stops boiling you can shake the investment loose with your hand.

Some times it needs a little digging to help it out.

The finished product in the rough.

A lot of work still to come. Clean up, sawing off the sprues, filing and polishing.

I think this one came out swimmingly. 🙂

If a stone was planned, sometimes there is still grinding and fitting to be done.

This is the end results of one of the earlier slides. This was a commission of a Blue Whale wall hanging with a 30,000,000 year old whale bone fossil.