Lost wax method or casting is an ancient process dating back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. It is still the best method for capturing exquisite detail in metal objects, which could not otherwise be produced given the complexity of their design. This process allows anything modeled in wax to be recreated fully and faithfully into various metals. The lost wax method is still employed today in the areas of sculpture, fine jewelry, restorative work in dentistry and in the industrial setting. It is a demanding and expensive process, but rewards the artisan with an object of great detail and individuality.
- The critical first step is to create a wax (although clay and other
materials can be used) original model of the sculpture. Care must be taken to capture the smallest of detail; all details and features the artist desires in the finished piece must appear in the wax
- The wax model is then encased in liquid rubber which, once set, is
carefully cut away to provide a “negative.”
- Molten wax is injected into this cavity, which is allowed to cool. It
is next removed from the rubber mold in the form of the original. After careful inspection, the new wax model is covered with plaster of Paris and fired.
- The heat melts the wax, which trickles out through a tiny opening and is thus “lost.” All that remains in the plaster is a perfect hollow in which every surface detail of the wax model is captured. Molten silver is then poured into the plaster mold.
- Once the silver has sufficiently cooled, the plaster mold is broken
apart, revealing the silver casting. The casting is then cleaned and checked to ensure that every detail of the original has been faithfully reproduced in silver.
- Finally, the piece is hallmarked and polished.
Historically, the lost wax method has been used to create many beautifully crafted cane handles, as demonstrated below.