I recently purchased an electric melting furnace for the ability to cast metal in the absence of a torch. The immediacy and direct nature of cuttlefish bone casting makes it a natural choice of mold for this process, and I found myself once again stunned by the incredibly visceral experience.
The furnace takes about an hour to get melting temperatures, so I am able to spend a lot of time on my molds by pushing models directly into the soft substance or by carving it with a tool. Its a real pleasure to carve out the calcified material, understanding that the negative spaces I create will be filled with molten sterling silver in a few moments. As I mentioned in an earlier cuttlefish casting post, the growth pattern of the calcium carbonate creates an incredible texture in the casting: the molten metal picks up every detail from the growth striations. Similar to woodgrain, the structure varies in density leading to unpredictable and delightful imagery. I was able to capture some of those growth striations, and it has truly invigorated my interest in this medium.
This particular round of casting was a partial success: my ring did not come out as planned, as my mold ultimately had a weak spot in the bottom where the molten silver began to leak out before it cooled. However, the impression I had carved still came out strong in the casting, and I will be able to clean it up and solder it to a ring shank. As is always the case with casting, it helps to be open to the process and to embrace whatever may solidify when the metal cools.
Even if the object is unexpected, there is joy in pulling the final cooled form from the charred bone.