. I wanted to share with you a little about my creation process. Not sure about you, but I love getting a sneak peek into an artist’s studio or seeing the steps of how objects are fabricated. There’s a lot of mystery nowadays surrounding how jewelry is made due to the increase in mass production and computer generated designs of goods in general. I think a lot of us lose touch with when and how human hands come into the picture. Myth and Stone jewelry relies on lost wax casting, a process that goes back 6000 years! Some genius (or several geniuses) figured out that if you sculpt an object out of beeswax and cover that model with clay and bake it--the wax melts away but the clay bakes leaving a hollow cavity or mold that molten metal can then be poured into. Wow, what a discovery!
When I first fell in love with jewelry making, I had no idea about wax carving. I got the chance to fabricate a bracelet in high school out of metal and then continued with metal smithing classes in college. It took me a long time to acquire the tools needed to make jewelry this way so for many years I was wire wrapping with crystals and beads, with just a few sets of pliers. I enjoyed this but thought it would really free me up creatively if I could reproduce a design rather than make it from scratch again and again. I signed up for a wax carving class and it turned out that I liked working with wax even more than metal! With wax the only limitation is the imagination, you can make anything you can dream up. And now when I spend 5,10, even 20+ hours on a carving I have the ability to recreate it with a mold.
Most of the current pieces in my collection were made this way. I start with a block of wax (which is more like a hard plastic and less like a sticky beeswax), I etch the design into the surface of the wax, and then I remove everything that isn’t my design. This looks like snowfall in the studio, wax shavings flying everywhere. The wax is removed with handheld sharp tools much like dental tools and also files, tiny saws, drill bits, and burs of different shapes. This takes a long time and the wax gets to be very delicate, easy to snap. I carefully send these off to a casting company that will make the mold and turn these into silver or gold pieces (the process still very similar to the ancient way yet more refined and efficient). I’ve considered doing the casting but it takes equipment I don’t have and skills I haven’t learned….it’s also more of a technical skill whereas the designing and carving is the creative, which is what I’m into. The jewelry pieces are sent back to me and I clean them up, filing or sanding imperfections, soldering components, polishing, and setting stones.
My one of a kind pieces use a slightly different, more experimental approach. I wasn’t taught how to build up wax but this is how these are made. I use a heated wax pen and build up wax drop by drop, into my desired shape. I then use my other wax tools to carve or texture the pieces. This works well to fit uniquely sized or shaped stones where I won’t need a mold because I only have the one stone, and won’t be recreating that exact design. You can see in the pictures above the waxes come in all different colors, and corresponding hardnesses.
The day my castings come in the mail is a joyous one in which I open the box and stare at the new treasure wanting to keep them all. Well meaning tech minded folks have asked me if I’ve considered getting with the times and using computer programs (CAD) to design my models…..you can then have a 3D printer create the wax model for you. But then my hands would have nothing to do! I value the handcrafted and I think anyone wearing Myth and Stone does too.
A lot of people seem amazed when I tell them this is how I make jewelry, they’ve never heard of this process despite its ancient roots. I love the idea of upholding an art form that could easily be lost in our digital world and sharing with you exactly how my pieces come into being. Have you learned anything new? Feel free to share this article with anyone who might be interested. And as always, I’d love to hear from you.
I too love the ancient component to wax casting! Thank you for the intimate look at What you’re up to
I have to say I’m quite impressed with your artistic talent and your ability to express it. That’s a true gift.