Failing as part of the process
After reading a chapter on cuttlefish casting from Anastasia Young’s Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques, I felt instantly motivated to give it a try.
I was lucky to have met Anastasia in person a couple of years ago, when I attended her resin classes at Central St Martins, London. So I knew that she’s an excellent teacher and the written instructions were very clear and straightforward. I was certain that it would work…. but it didn’t.
Despite that, I will describe the process, in case you’d like to give it a shot too.
First, I sanded two pieces of cuttlefish bones, until they were flat:
I decided to use one of my shells for casting and pushed it halfway onto the surface of the bone:
I also pushed three small pieces of toothpick around the shell, which would help in aligning the two bones:
I gently pushed the two bones so that they would meet, while the shell was still inside. Cuttlefish bones are fragile and inevitably I broke a few before I figure out how much pressure they could take.
Next, I removed the shell from the mold and brought the two bones back together. I also curved a pouring channel using a sharp knife. The picture below was taken before carving the channel so you can’t see it in this photo:
I melted some silver into a crucible and added a small quantity of borax. I held the bones in place using cross-locking tweezers. I should have also used binding wire but I forgot it.
When the metal was molten, I tried to pour it inside the channel and this is the stage where I encountered the main problems. I couldn’t get the metal inside the mold, it had already cooled and stayed in the pouring channel.
I ended up burning the top part of the bones as I was trying to direct the flame towards the metal but also stay as close as possible to the mold. I tried several more times and once I managed to get some of the silver inside the mold but the casting wasn’t any good:
My first cuttlefish casting experiments didn’t go as I anticipated but I wasn’t disappointed. I still learned a lot from this process. It seemed that either my torch couldn’t sustain the heat for too long or I needed practice with my pouring skills.
If you happen to have done cuttlefish casting before, I would love to hear any tips that you might have. And if you’d like to try it for the first time like I did, let me know how it went. I love to hear such stories!
Thanks for visiting!