Workshop Wednesday: Bronze casting with cuttlebone
I had the opportunity to take a workshop in cuttlebone casting with HMS's jewelry assistant Arianna a couple of weeks ago and am currently obsessed with the process. This method has been used since ancient times and utilizes the soft, carvable interior structure of a cuttlefish as the mold-making medium to create everything from jewelry pieces to sculptures.
The interior of the cuttlebone has a fantastic, wavy, wood-like grain that transfers to the final piece in a somewhat unpredictable way.
To create a casting mold, each cuttlebone piece is cut in half and then each side is sanded flat, creating a surface to carve into.
A design is then carved into the soft, flat surface with dental tools - just a little bit of pressure is necessary - the cuttlebone is incredibly soft! I made a ring by first pressing a ring that fit me into the surface and then carving out additional shapes. Others in our class made pendants and little sculptural objects - this technique is versatile, limited really only by the size of your cuttlebone.
Arianna taught us some great tricks for ensuring that the two sides match up perfectly when they are pressed together and wired shut to create the casting mold.
Next is the fun part: fire! Using an oxy/acetylene torch or another hot burning flame, you'll heat your metal (we used bronze) in a heat-proof crucible, making sure your cuttlefish mold is set up in a good heat-proof situation, too. We used a tray filled with sand and 2 fire bricks to create a stand for the mold.
You'll be heating your metal for a long time, so get comfortable! Arianna taught us her tricks of the trade for getting the metal up to temperature and pour just right, so that by the end of the cl
A little buffing and cleaning of the metal, and our pieces were looking pretty fresh - my ring, with its natural cuttlebone texture, looks like a little mountain range.
To get the full run down of how you, too, can make some sweet cuttlebone casted bronze pieces, be sure to sign up for Arianna's next workshop on December 13 and you, too, can spend a Saturday afternoon pretending to be a medieval metalsmith.
You can sign up for this weekend's casting workshop, or any of our other awesome classes, right here: https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/home?studioid=14605