Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Water Casting... Thoughts?

A few months ago I took a water casting class at The Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach, CA. Fun? Yes!

Water casting is pouring molten metal into a pot of water, where it almost immediately solidifies in random shapes. As students, we each got to melt a mixture of sterling silver and a bit of copper in a crucible with an acetylene torch, which we then poured into the pot of water. It was fun (and a little scary!) to use the torch in one hand (a much larger and hotter torch than I usually use), and swish molten silver around in dish in the other. I kept visualizing myself splashing some out on my foot or someones pant leg. Exciting! :) We could either pour the silver directly into the pot of water, or pour it into a bundle of straw which had soaked in the water and was standing up in the pot. I wish I had pictures to show you of the straw method, but I didn't go that route, so no pics. They came out in sort of a long shape with vertical grooves in them. They almost looked like some kind of crystallized mineral or something. They were pretty cool, but I watched several unsuccessful attempts, and decided to just use the pot of water.... It was a larger target to aim at! I had time to do it twice, and ended up with two very different pieces.

This was the first one I made. The metal hits the water and cools immediately in whatever shape it splashes into. Each piece also comes out with an interesting patina. The colors in the patina depend on several factors like the temperature and length of time the metal was heated, the combination of metals used, and the speed of cooling. We didn't get into trying to acheive a particular patina... we were just newbies, but I kind of like the golds and greens and pinks in this one.

And this is my second piece. I like the more compact shape of this one. I played around with the patina a little after I got home because I wanted to accentuate the high spots by darkening the nooks and crannies. I like the effect, and I also like how, over time, the high spots have darkened to a goldish color because of the copper mixed in with the silver. However, the original patina had some of the same greens and pinks that the first one has... maybe I should have just left it alone. Trial and error. Live and learn.

Ever since I took this class I have wondered about making some pieces like this to sell. They are very different from my usual style. I normally like to plan something out ahead of time, and then make my jewelry according to plan. These water cast pieces are completely random. I suppose with practice I could control the outcome a bit, but not much. You get what you get. Maybe that's good?

What do you think?


1 comment:

  1. Very nice technique, I've read about it before. Your second piece has some unique texture and is very eye-appealing! Great job!