Thursday, April 21, 2011

Casting Stones In Place

While on my little hiatus I was casting. Not that long ago a colleague tried casting some gems (diamonds) in place. It’s risky business but the design was perfect for it. When you are casting in place with gemstones you have to think red, white, and blue. You can cast diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. Her castings turned out great but the diamonds either turned white or clouded. They were toast! What a mess. She had to pull them out of the piece (they were the customers). She reset new diamonds (top quality ones) by a different method in their place. That blew us all out of the water since we assumed the diamonds were going to cast okay. Rio Grande Jewelry Supply had told her she could cast the stones in place. It was a lesson learned the hard way. It was kind of a Paul Harvey thing...what we were missing from Rio Grande was "the rest of the story".

A couple of weeks later on one of my “surfing” journeys I Googled casting stones in place. The results were interesting as you always get the PMC information coming up and I know you can do man made stones – some garnets – etc. with PMC. I am PMC certified. Then, what I found on either Ganoskin or Shurline (?) was that if you cast the big three in place you need to alter your burnout procedure in the kiln because if you don’t you will “cloud out or white out your diamonds”. Other gems, if inclusions are there can crack – including the diamonds. Okey dokey – question answered as to why the diamonds were damaged. You also have to air cool the flask after casting. Normally you quench the flask after about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the flask/ work. Damn – blew it both ways on those diamonds.

I like answers. If you could put CZ’s and other things into PMC and fire the crap out of them was it possible to do the same in a regular casting method? I don’t know why not. So, experiment number one was born. Pristine white CZ on one set of earrings and a natural garnet set in wax modeled on another (they were $15.00 garnets – not cheap but not expensive and had inclusions). It was a regular burn out of the kiln (to rid us of the wax and make room for the silver) – and a regular method of casting silver.

The Garnets – not so good. If someone is kissing my ear (LOL) and eyeing my earrings at the same time they will notice hairline cracks and other nonsense which would make them non-saleable. They are now MINE – greedy little bugger that I am. You can see them up close if you offer to kiss my ear at the Gathering. Hence, I’m not too worried about anyone getting up close and personal enough to notice the cracks.

The CZ set – B-I-N-G-O.

They cast well – they are shiny – there are no cracks – and you could use the regular method of casting to include them in your piece. Hallelujah!

I’m now on a quest, of sorts, to make a collection of OOAK (one of a kind) earring pieces to use with beads. I will make others that are plain silver but I want some pieces that had a little bling. Would it be great if it were the big three gemstone bling? Of Course, but since the burnout kiln we are using is universal (several of us use it) it will be CZ’s.

The photos are of some of the”bling” earrings in progress. They were just removed from the cooling flasks. Since they haven’t been put into the pickle yet they are gray. Soon they will be silver, freed from their sprues, bright and polished. When they are I will post them.

Maybe when I have my casting equipment set up I will try the big three. For now – bling works.


Anonymous said...

OMG.... those are so rocking! I love them. WOW! awesome deliciousness!

Sharon Driscoll said...

Thank You - I'm hoping once they are polished and have some great beads on them they'll get oodles of attention at the Gathering

Anonymous said...

This is so cool! If sapphires are ok, then you can use whatever color you want. Don't they exist in pretty much any color? (well except for red - then they are called rubies...)

Sharon Driscoll said...

Absolutely you can use Sapphires in any color - and they are the colors of the rainbow. You just have to stick to the concept of Red, White, Blue. I'm guessing those are some of the hardest stones on the MOH's scale and the most heat resistant. I can't wait to alter mu own kiln schedule and see if the results work. I'm still working on getting that equipment set up.