The raw stone
First, the tufa is cut into blocks.
Then the design is carved into the rock with a variety of instruments. In one block is the design, and the other block is the backer.
The carving tools
The tufa is actually pretty soft before it's stabilized, so I'm able to use knives, wax carving tools, dental instruments and clay carvers.
Pouring the molten metal
Then the model is sooted up, so it will release easily. The two blocks are bound together and molten metal is poured into the model.
Breaking out the casting
Here's how the casting looks after it comes out of the mold. Doesn't look like much, does it? All of the vents and pouring gate has to be cut off, then the remaining casting is filed and sanded into its final shape.
Here's the working design. It has olive jade, peridots and pink mother-of-pearl.
Here's another tufa piece that was modeled after the shadows on a snowdrift. It is now at The Jeweler Gallery in Laramie, WY
You can see more views of the one below at
You can see more views of the piece below at
If you've enjoyed the step-by-step story of how a piece of jewelry is made, look for similar stories in the "Making Jewelry Storybook" sections.
Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak