Ramblin' Dan's Workshop

The Sanctum of Fine Art and Invention

Wax Trees

I received a commission project to design and make some awards for a piano music recital Since the request came from my dear spouse, I could not wait to get started. She wanted something like the pendants I have been making but with a musical design. So I had the freedom to do almost anything I wanted. 

I created a small pendant designed on the look of a stylish  piano keyboard. For the male students I have removed the jump ring eye and will solder a tie-tac stud on the back. Otherwise they will all be the same.

This created the need to make a dozen items all the same all at one time. This is the first time I have had the chance or need to put 8 items on one central core casting tree. (I did do more items using a different smaller tree pattern.) It is S.O.P. in the world of lost wax casting to build sprue trees like these for casting. The big professional casters will easily have 50 or more parts on one central core tree. Definitely not doable in my low production shop.

keyboard clipart royalty free wavy keyboard logo by seamartini graphics 4241 keyboard
 This is the royalty free design I discovered. It is exactly what I wanted. The "Boss" also loved the design.  This is the CAD 3D representation I designed. The recessed areas will be darkened to near black.
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 This is my first eight item wax tree. I actually enjoyed building it.  Just another view. I could have easily gone another row higher and I think it would still have fit in my flask. But I wasn't certain.
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 This top view looks like there is still enough room for another layer.  I took the safe route and didn't put all my work in one basket. Look close, no jump ring eye. These are for the tac pins.
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 These are made with pink injection wax. Since I was firing up the kiln for the awards, it was a good time to try casting three of these "Tree of Life" pendants in the same heat, Not the first time I have used my new wax injection method.  Casting went very well. Here are the two "trees" fresh out of the acid pickle, looking pristine in their snowy white pure silver coatings.
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When I looked at these, my thought immediately shouted, "Stumps!" You can see I use a cutter. Originally I used a saw. Finished product. The top four are tac pins and the remaining eight are pendants. Size for each is about 3/4"x1", a popular size these days.

The design and wax production took two days. the CNC runs totalled about 12 hours run time. I don't have to watch the cutting so I can do other work during the process. If this becomes a popular design, I will make a rubber mold.

Wax detailing and tree building (spruing) takes a couple of hours or more and the investment takes about an hour with a two hour set up (cure) time. The investment actually hardens in about 10 minutes, but there is an exothermic cure period after that.

Firing in the kiln is a twelve hour process with a few hours at 1350 F. degrees. The molds are then held at 800 degrees for the casting process. After all that work the actual casting is about a 10-15 minute process each mold. The work up to this point is all in the preparation.

Then the real metal work begins. This run from the "white tree" stage to finished product (The last three photos.) took a solid 12 hour work day.

It's a long detailed process, but that suits me just fine. I love starting with a concept and creating a detailed finished product. It's like running my multi million dollar construction projects in a microcosm.

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