Casting is a process used to replicate and mass produce jewelry in precious metals without the need to hand fabricate each piece. A master piece is made either by hand in metal using traditional techniques or more commonly in wax carved into the required shape either by hand or using computer design software and computerised lathes and mills.
If you have a metal master it is vulcanised within a rectangular piece of rubber with a rod attached and protruding from one edge. The rubber mould is then cut in half to remove the master pattern and the mould can then be injected with wax repeatedly to produce multiple wax replicas of the original.
Once you have wax models they are put in a canister and a plaster that can take high temperatures is poured around them. The canister is then placed in a hot oven the wax melts and leaves a hollow cavity in the plaster. Molten metal is then poured into the plaster mould and once cooled you will have multiple copies of the original master pattern.
This is just an oveview of casting and the films make it look simple, but each process from creating the wax models, cutting them from the rubber moulds, building the wax tress and melting and pouring the metal are highly skilled techniques which combine science and artistic talent which require’s a great deal of practice to perfect.
There are commercial casting companies that will provide all casting services for you even if you require just one piece and they are experts at what they do. The biggest concerns people have with using a caster are obviously expense but its a competitive industry and a skilled job, its actually multiple highly skilled jobs to cast from start to finish. Many casters if they make your moulds and waxes will obviously hold and store the moulds or designs which make some people uncomfortable so its also very common for jewelers to make their own moulds and waxes but have them cast for them.
So if your thinking about casting for yourself our best advice would be to take it one step at a time in collaboration with the services of a commercial caster. Start just making designs or carving waxes and have them cast then once you’ve perfected that practice mould making, vulcanising and cutting moulds. Once you’ve perfected the mould and wax model part of the process then consider the if next steps are right for you.