• mackenzietalangton

The positives & negatives of lost wax casting

As a designer and maker It is my goal to develop a distinct visual language, a vocabulary that is shared between objects and that communicates to the user the presence of the makers hand.  In pursuit of defining this Identity and imprinting myself in my creations I have embarked on forging my own branding iron in the form of my Logo using the process of Lost wax casting. 

My decision to embark on this difficult and lengthily process is symbolic and representative of my ideals as a furniture maker and as my evolution as a maker in the modern age. Through using the aid of CNC machining to create the original engraving that would form the wax mold, which would then be used as the “positive” mold in the lost wax process I have engaged simultaneously with the modern age of machining with the traditional, ancient process of lost wax casting. This fusion of old and new techniques is central to my capstone project in that it represents a desire to maintain the presence of analog, or “hand madeness” while simultaneously maintaining relevancy in the modern age.

Logo engraved by the CNC in MDF, sealed with resin.

Negative wax casting

Double boiler used to liquify bees wax

Wax "positive" cured and ready to be removed

Wax positive with raised logo

Wax positives with trees of wax and sprues, suspended in baking pan

After wax is melted out of mold the negative is placed in a kiln to temper and evaporate any left over wax.

Copper is smelted in a crucible inside the forge.

Once metal is fully melted it is poured into plaster mold and left to cool.

Failed copper positive from mold (after grinding) :-(

Through this process I have engaged with a material I have very little experience manipulating and though the experiment was a failure many lessons were gained. The multitude of processes to develop the engraving and mold have widened my knowledge of generating forms, duplication and an understanding of different building materials like plaster and wax and of course, metal. This experiment has also engaged with the conceptual aspect of my capstone project in seeking to blend techniques of the past with the present. It has also brought me closer to the definition of my own visual language, symbolism and creative identity.

Works Cited

Hunt, L.B. The long history of Lost wax casting. Gold Bull, (1980).

Sias, Fred R. Lost-wax casting: Old, new and inexpensive Methods. Woodsmere press, 2005.

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