IMG_6683_rings_e

I’ve always been fascinated by jewellery, and working the The Royal Mint has made me think more about precious metals, so I thought I would explore lost wax silver casting techniques last year.

IMG_7391_rings_e

I’d made a few rings when I was studying in Osaka in 1999 so I used these to make some rubber moulds. These could be injected with warm liquid wax: once cooled they could be customised. I experimented with adding to the form with blobs of wax that came out of the machine, and also carving away with a woodblock tool.

IMG_7059_rings_e

The completed wax rings had to be stuck to a wax tree, which was then entirely covered in plaster. The wax was melted out, and the plaster put into a fancy machine that poured molten silver into the empty tree spaces. This is what comes out: a dark grey lump of rings attached to the tree like branches. It takes about an hour per ring to file off the stalks, smooth out the edges and polish each one up to the familiar shiny silver finish that we see in the shops.

IMG_7063_rings_e

I made 12 rings at a time, and loved the fun of playing with the shapes and forms.

IMG_7481_rings_e

This is one of my favourites: it’s a kind of distorted cube. The one below I gave my sister for Christmas: called the milk splash. I’ve loads more ideas I’d like to try, so look forwards to experimenting more…

IMG_7521_rings_e

Advertisements

Well, after a long period of silence, I can finally say that I’ve been designing coins for the Royal Mint. The first ever Lunar calendar series of coins for the UK were launched today with these versions in solid silver and gold. The designs started off as linocuts; I had to code-name the project My Little Pony on account of having to work in a communal studio and not wanting to raise too much attention to this diversion from my usual themes…

lunar_hors_design_eOn a trip to the Royal Mint I saw how skilled engravers carve the design into plaster by making a mirror image and inversely deep image of the original pattern. They then rework the models in very low relief, and finally reduce the image down to the correct size. I couldn’t believe how much labour and skill is involved throughout the process.

lunar_horse_eFor more information, or to buy your very own copy- please see the Royal Mint website or this website for daily coin collecting news. I would love to say I have tons of free samples, but sadly no, not yet! Now for the next challenge: 11 more animals in the series…