Wax modelling is fast and accessible. It feels more sculptural in nature than forging and forming metal by hand. This commission involved designing and making an 18ct yellow gold saddle shaped pinkie ring that cleanly blended into a comfortably narrow shank at the back. It would have been possible to make a ring like this using anti-clastic raising (a technique where metal is hammered on different shaped stakes to bend and form it into beautifully defined curves), but I opted to carve it from wax. If however you'd like to see some beautiful anti-clastic work I'd recommend checking out fellow Irish goldsmith Jessica Poole.
Ring wax comes in 6 inch long tubes and it's a matter of cutting off a section within which to "find" the ring. I went for a U shaped tube to accommodate the height of the ring and removed a 20mm wide section.
Working in wax varies from metal in that a few stokes of the file will remove a large amount of wax, but a relatively small amount of metal, making it very quick to manipulate, but also dangerously easy to remove too much material. As a result it's not so much a matter of "finding" that ring, rather of careful laying out and marking! All those little lines help to maintain symmetry and prevent accidents.
Once marked out, excess wax is sawed away before filing the rough shape of the ring - a messy business as you can see. Then, when the outline shape is good, it is refined and weighed and refined again until it is as light as possible.
When the model is finished and emeried to a nice polish it can be sent off for casting in what ever metal desired. In this case my first wax was too small so I had it cast in silver and had the larger one cast in 18ct. The models come back from the casters with this lovely low matt finish as you can see - too pretty to pass up a quick photo, but still in need of a good polish.
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