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4300 Magazine
TRANSFORMATIONS

The design process of Mignon Faget

Transformation + Workshop

The Model

A wax model is carved in intricate detail by the model maker.  Every detail of the design is captured and perfected in this process.  Depending on the design of the piece, a model can take up to 30 hours to carve for a single item of jewelry.

The wax model is transformed to a metal model through a process known as “lost wax casting.”

THE CASTING

From the original metal model many pieces of jewelry can be made.  A rubber mold is made by covering the metal model with a solid mass of layered, unvulcanized rubber and subjecting it to heat and pressure to vulcanize or “cure” the rubber. Using a surgeon’s knife, the rubber mass is dissected and the original model is removed. Molten wax is injected into the rubber mold; the resulting wax reproduction is used as the master to produce mass numbers of the article. The wax model is placed in a flask and surrounded with investment (a plaster-like compound that withstands high heat). After the investment has set, the assembly (flask) is placed in an oven to create the mold for the jewelry. Putting the flask in the oven allows the wax to melt and flow out of the flask creating a hollow space. The wax is “lost” – hence “lost-wax casting”. Read more about the casting process after the jump!

Sterling silver or 14K gold are poured into the mold during the casting process and the result is a raw casting of the jewelry.  A raw casting has a dull appearance (with a “skin” of metal), with a sprue, or piece of metal where the liquid form of the sterling or gold entered the casting.

This raw casting enters the workshop to be finished by the craftsmen.  The sprue is filed off by the jeweler and the casting is transformed into a pendant or ring or bracelet…