Lost Wax: Casting to Create

Here's a very brief overview of some of the steps involved in the lost wax casting process. The Applied Arts course at North Wales School of Art & Design is really hands on with teaching and practising important processes like this. Their focus is "on the high quality craft skills needed to be a professional maker".

Spruing-up with thin rods of wax makes a tree like structure which will allows the molten metal to flow into and fill the cavities.

Spruing-up with thin rods of wax makes a tree like structure which will allows the molten metal to flow into and fill the cavities.

"Spruing Up"

Taking your organic found objects or wax shapes you have made, you have to connect them to a wax tree with little wax branches called "Sprues" all pointing "Up" so that when turned upside down the metal flows down into the spaces left after the wax melts. You want the sprues to be as thin and delicate as possible when working on small scale castings as they will also be "transformed" into solid metal and you will have to cut them off where they are attached and clean up your castings. This makes "spruing up" quite fiddly and takes longer than you think! You need a steady hand and plenty of concentration when melting and applying the wax sprues.

When your tree is finished and all the parts are secure it is fitted inside a flask. Next is a crazy process which is all about precision and timing!

Plaster

You have to mix up a bucket of special investment plaster, carefully weighing up the quantities, making sure everything is clean and uncontaminated. The plaster starts to harden very quickly so processes need to be followed really carefully and quickly, so just like a TV chef you need to know the "recipe" inside out and have all of your things weighed out and everything to hand. However, instead of putting your "mixture" in the shiny oven in your glamorous chef's kitchen, the flask of plaster goes into a vacuum chamber to get rid of the air and ensures crisply defined castings. After the specified time in the vacuum, the flask goes into the kiln overnight. This will burn away the wax and organic materials leaving the cavity to then fill with molten metal.

Casting Day

Now you can prepare your casting metals. These have to be weighed out depending on the weight of the flask and how big the castings are going to be. Accurate measurements are really important. If too little metal is melted then when it's poured in, it won't fill out the cavities, meaning your one-off castings will be sad and empty or partially missing spoiling your hard work from the previous day! 

Casting grains of silver go into the crucible to melt ready to pour into the mould. 

Lovely brass for brass castings.

Brass scrap in the crucible

You can see the chopped up "sprue-trees" leftover from a previous casting to be melted and reused in this casting.

Working with hot metal is dangerous, so safety equipment and the right tools are needed to protect yourself and those around. And maybe a nice cold drink for afterwards, as it does get VERY hot! 

When ready (again, timing is everything so follow instructions and have accurate timers), the flask is plunged into a bucket of water. This causes the special plaster to fizz and bubble dramatically like a volcanic geyser so it's very exciting!

This reaction means that the plaster should dissolve and break away leaving the metal casting to be cleaned up.

It's like excavating your own fossils!

 Silver casting of wax rings by my sister Julie Mellor.

Brass casting of plant stems collected by my sister Rozanne Mellor.

Now the castings can be sawn-off by hand, cleaned up and transformed into whatever you have planned for them! I hope this shows what an exciting and involved process casting is! For more information on the facilities, Open Days and courses at North Wales School of Art & Design at Glyndwr University check out their website or message them on Twitter@NWSADAppliedArt 

"Loop" Ring Exhibition at The Biscuit Factory

Loop is the New Exhibition launched on the 4th March at The Biscuit Factory as part of their Spring Exhibition. Loop is a showcase of spectacular rings by 16 leading contemporary jewellers, and I was thrilled to be a part of it!

LOOP @The Biscuit Factory Newcastle

"From designs that are simple and minimal, to more elaborate statement pieces - the collection will be a stunning range for lovers of rings. Set apart from our usual jewellery collection, the designs will be presented in the gallery as miniature artworks."

Alongside LOOP, The Biscuit Factory’s spring show also includes a diverse collection of contemporary paintings, prints, glass, sculpture and textiles, headlined by 2014 BP Portrait Award second prize winner, Richard Twose.

Gallery Curator, Lauren Baker, comments: “As jewellery curator, I am surrounded by some of the most creative and utterly wonderful jewellery the UK has to offer. While making plans for this year’s exhibitions, the uniting theme for many of the makers I approached was clear - they were all responsible for some exceptional rings; I wanted them all!

This giant Swarovski ring is one of my latest pieces, which is included in the exhibition on until 31st of May 2016

Let's go For a swim at Kalithea

This is one of my favourite places to instantly melt any cares away. Over these few years we have seen the Spar be restored to it's former glory and eaten lots of tzatziki in the little cafe overlooking the beach and it's straw parasols. The most blissful hours have been spent in the cooling waters on baking hot days, encircling the volcanic rocks and spying crabs and colourful fish.

The traditional Spar, now restored

The traditional Spar, now restored

The baking hot beach-too hot to stand on the sand!

The baking hot beach-too hot to stand on the sand!

Lovely textures of volcanic rocks where gases bubbled and the shells of  prehistoric sea creatures fused with them.

Lovely textures of volcanic rocks where gases bubbled and the shells of  prehistoric sea creatures fused with them.

Shell mosaic made from pebbles in the floor of the spar

Shell mosaic made from pebbles in the floor of the spar

Mosaics in the spar carry motifs from the sea and beach around it.  I also found inspiration in the shapes of these sea creatures to create a special present.

I incorporated sand from the beach we all visited together into a pair of cuff-links. The two shapes are taken from my cast of a real pre-historic ammonite, and a perfect pink shell I found on the beach on our holiday.

I hope this present is a little reminder of the wonderful holidays we have spent so far, to carry a bit of those happy times away with us.

Silver & resin cuff-links, using sand from the beach in Greece.

Silver & resin cuff-links, using sand from the beach in Greece.

Give Me A Spoon, Exhibition at Atta Gallery

This Fantastic exhibition at Atta has been extended until  Sat 15th Nov! 

The jewellery gallery in Bangkok is currently home to a collection of amazing wearable objects, all developed from the idea of a simple spoon.

The artists featured all have their own unique approach to this humble utensil, demonstrating various techniques and a utilising a variety of materials.

Albert Setyawan, ceramic wearable "spoons"

Albert Setyawan, ceramic wearable "spoons"

Ho Koo's side scoop spoon and precious  "grains"

Ho Koo's side scoop spoon and precious  "grains"

Poly Nikolopoulou  unusual, textured spoons

Poly Nikolopoulou unusual, textured spoons

Simon Cottrell's spoon  Silver +10% Zinc alloy, Monel, Recycled woven nylon cord.    You can see Cottrell's work at Schmuck Munich, where he has been selected to show next year!

Simon Cottrell's spoon Silver +10% Zinc alloy, Monel, Recycled woven nylon cord.

You can see Cottrell's work at Schmuck Munich, where he has been selected to show next year!

 

I am a lover of spoons, using them to mix and make my work which themselves become records of the colours and textures that I use.

One of my Hewn rings and a spoon from my studio.

One of my Hewn rings and a spoon from my studio.

The idea is to challenge artists to create something that they do not normally create and exercise their creativity by translating their practice into a new kind of work. Most importantly, it is for the artists to have fun!" - Vipoo Srivilasa, Curator (you can view the website here)

 

For this exhibition it was a chance to take an everyday object and explore it's shape, symbolic meanings or function with the individual artists creating their own interpretation of a spoon. The simple brief allows exploration of ideas and materials leading to a fabulous array of textures and shapes and making a familiar object into a wearable, thoughtful piece of art.

Yiumsiri Vantanapindu

Yiumsiri Vantanapindu

Whether a usable object or decorative, spoons have many meanings. Love spoons were a folk tradition, made by young men and given as a token of their affection to a woman they admired. The wooden carvings were a chance for them to show their skill, taking time and patience. The complicated shapes and symbols  communicated how deeply they admired their loved one. If a girl accepted a spoon form a suitor she might then wear it or tie it to her clothing to show that she was taken, in a similar way to an engagement ring. Even more of a reason for them being the perfect focus for a jewellery gallery!

For practical purposes wearable spoons make sense. In a nomadic lifestyle you would carry the objects that you used daily. They were useful, and therefore precious and important. 

Spoons in my studio

Spoons in my studio

Easily overlooked, the spoon is simple & reliable, perfectly formed for it's purpose and a daily necessity. I am happy to celebrate this essential tool (and I couldn't polish off my dessert without it!).

Hooray for the beautiful, useful spoon!

You can see plenty more pictures from the exhibition here on the Atta Facebook page.

 

 

 

Summer Celebration Ring

Let's Celebrate!

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Confetti Cake! Recipe can be found on Best Friends For Frosting.

My dear friend Natalie recently asked me to make her a ring for some summer parties she was going to. The dresses she had bought for these occasions were mostly a black background with splashes of gorgeous bright florals, perfect for dancing outside on balmy summer evenings, sipping champagne cocktails under colourful paper lanterns...

                                                                         Photo by Tanja Lippert Photography via   Bridal Guide

                                                                         Photo by Tanja Lippert Photography via Bridal Guide

These studio fragments selected for their corresponding colours look just like the bits of rock left at the bottom of a sweetie jar! 

These studio fragments selected for their corresponding colours look just like the bits of rock left at the bottom of a sweetie jar! 

To stand against the black Natalie wanted something in a happy, sunny, summery yellow, and we added flecks of colour in hand picked shades that would also highlight the floral details in the fabric.

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Scattering confetti in celebration!

The finished ring, the coloured and metallic fragments appear like scattered confetti!

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If you would like more information on having your own special ring made, get in touch! I'll be happy to answer your questions!  :)

You can email me at info@jademellor.com

Collaboration! Summer Selection with Natalie Stoker

Happy International Collaboration Day! Here's a photo-shoot of some choice objects for the summer season. It's to celebrate my recent collaboration with talented textiles designer Natalie Stoker. Check out her gorgeous designs in her shop here.

SUMMER SELECTION!

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One-of-a-kind necklaces made from natural volcanic pebbles and antique cut glass embellishments. Swimsuit not compulsory, I'd suggest thrown over a plain white shirt where it will give a bit of beachy texture to the stuffy city commute. Keep your eyes on the SHOP for when they arrive.

A polished pairing of a hand sculpted bangle and ring in metallic flecked white resin will show off even a subtle summer glow. Finish off with your fave shades and a lick of ice-cream. (I recommend Ginger's Comfort Emporium's "White Chocolate and Pink Peppercorn"...).

The print for these scrumptiously soft cushions has been created by Natalie using photographs taken in my studio of the processes during making my objects. You can read more about the inspiration behind this collab in the new shop here.

Happy Collaboration Day! Hope you all get to spend it working on something fun with friends and family, (even if it's as simple as peeling the spuds for a nice meal together).

"Let's collaborate... You bring the G...I'll bring the T!" Wahoooo :) 

Galactic Exhibition

One of my necklaces at the exhibition: Pyrite encrusted cube necklace on oxidised silver chain

One of my necklaces at the exhibition: Pyrite encrusted cube necklace on oxidised silver chain

An Exhibition of Jewellery that is Out of this World!

At the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists 

22nd July - 19th October 2013

 

Here's a new pair of earrings in granite and sterling silver

Here's a new pair of earrings in granite and sterling silver

I was so excited to be invited to take part in this exhibition. There will be ceramics, jewellery and glass all by artists inspired by outer space.  Here's a list of those taking part: 

Tracey Birchwood, Annie Cracknell, Jemma Daniels, Christine Davies, Simon Denvers, Samantha Donaldson, Emma Farnworth, Alice Gow, Akiko Hirai, Jade Mellor, Ros Millar, Myung Nam An, Mandana Oskoui, Danny Ries, Charlotte Sale, Alex Shimwell, Emily Thatcher, Perin Towlson, Irena Maria Varey, Charlotte Verity