Friday, April 22, 2011

Making Jewelry Storybook~Tufa cast jewelry

Tufa casting is cast directly into a rock called tufa. It is carved, then cast with molten metal. Below, you'll see the steps taken for the piece above. This was also featured in a trade magazine called Lapidary Journal, and a general publication called Big Sky Magazine/Art. It is now at The Jeweler Gallery in Laramie, WY.

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

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