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  #1  
Old 05-21-2005, 01:31 AM
Indigo Indigo is offline
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Question Getting Started in Wax

Hi!

I've recently been given a whole load of casting supplies, Resin, silicone, vacuum, etc. And what I really want to do now is move towards wax carving/sculpting, and casting. I make figurines from a few inches to sometimes 15 inches or more. I've been researching different kinds of wax, and have found that the microcrystalline wax is the kind often used for my purposes.
I have a 1lb block of amaco carving wax, but online I have seen the option to buy large packs of microcrystalline wax for just 1.50/lb. Is there something different in the way these waxes are made? is the more pricier (amaco) wax just more highly refined?

Also, I'm rather clueless about the whole process. I had originally planned to melt my wax and cast it into a cylindrical shape, and then just carve away like it was a block of wood. However, after reading through the forums, I have seen that armature is required for some of the larger pieces. As far as armature is concerned, would I place a metal skeleton into the cylindrical wax cast, or somehow apply the wax to to the armature in a greater amount than needed, and then carve away the excess?

Sorry for all the questions and my obvious cluelessness when it comes to this medium! I'd really appriciate it if anyone could reccomend any books or websites which detail figurative wax sculpting.

Thanks in advance!

Indigo
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  #2  
Old 05-21-2005, 09:57 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Indigo - Here are a few facts or opinions, hopefully somewhat educated. Microcrystalline wax is a generic term for wax that tends to form in very small particles, and is a nearly smooth, continuous material when it solidifies. It comes in all colors from white (candle wax) through various browns and nearly pure black. For sculpture, you want a hard, high-melting variety, and color is more or less immaterial.

Smallish sculpture (up to say, 15 inches in max dimension) probably won’t require an armature in reasonablely cool locations, but if you feel the sculpture needs strengthening, small pieces of wood or bamboo, such as ice-cream or barbeque sticks, can be inserted and built upon. They will burn with the wax when a cast is made.

Larger sculptures also go through a wax stage. The original typically is formed in a clay of some sort, and then a mold is made and filled with wax. The wax is encased in a plaster-like material; the wax is melted out, and bronze, aluminum, or other material is poured into the hollows of the mold. This is the “lost wax process”.

Hope this gets you started!
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  #3  
Old 05-22-2005, 12:16 AM
Jamo Jamo is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Here are a few tips I have learned from wax. Keeping a light pointed on a block of wax at a medium setting will turn it into a modelling consistency that is malleable. You can model it only so far until it cools. After that you can use a blow torch or heat gun to soften it again. For small figures I wouldn't use armature. For smaller figures I would set them firmly on a rigid surface so that you can avoid handling it. I find the warmth of your hands will significantly deform the wax through handling. The rigid surface allows you to manipulate the piece without causing any malformations to it. getting into larger pieces you can use styfoam carved to a general shape then lay the wax on top of it in liquid form, built up with a paintbrush. For medium sized sculptures you can use metal armature keeping in mind that it does not burn like styrofoam. It may be a task to section it off into smaller pieces for mold making if it is a complicated piece. Make sure that on the armature there is something for the wax to grab onto so it doesnt slip a fall off the armature. Paraffin sucks dont use it. If you like carving wax is great. If you are a strict modeller then wax leaves something to be desired but is still manageable. Its a personal prefference thing.
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Old 05-22-2005, 09:25 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax; climate considerations

Jamo - I've wanted to say something about your making that large piece in wax since you first posted, but I didn’t get to it right away, and then it slipped into the background.

People in climates warmer than Newfoundland might want to be careful if they choose to sculpt directly in wax. What kind of wax is it that you use? I typically sculpt in oil-based clay, make a mold, cast the piece in a relatively hard, high-melting sculptural wax, clean that up and give the wax to a foundry for casting.

I usually transport the finished wax in a large plastic garbage can, wrapped in a smaller plastic garbage bag and surrounded with plastic-wrapped foam pads to cushion it for the journey. Despite my using a high-melting wax, here in the southern U. S., I find that the wax is easily deformed at any stage.
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  #5  
Old 05-23-2005, 02:54 AM
Jamo Jamo is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

thats a very good point. Us Newfies are used to shoveling snow in may and breaking out the shorts in 5 degree weather. Shipping wax/working with it in the summer can be a pure nightmare. In climates like florida you have to pretty much keep the wax in an air conditioned room in the shade. you wouldnt need a lamp to keep it malleable. Thats a tough one to deal with and requires special shipping needs where it is 25 degrees all the time. Unless you could arrange something with a shipping company in a controled temperature environment and while you are working the wax keep it in a cool area. I have no other ideas towards this. Its not a problem where I live. I use microcrystalline foundry blend or victory brown.
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  #6  
Old 05-23-2005, 02:59 AM
Jamo Jamo is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Also, hollow cast waxes from molds dont have the benefit of having a combustable armature that usually limits deformation. The sculptor that I apprenticed from used to add bamboo sticks while casting the wax in the mold
supported with burlap. Both combustable materials and perfectly fine to use at a foundry for lost wax casting.
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  #7  
Old 05-23-2005, 10:37 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax; choice of wax

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamo
Also, hollow cast waxes from molds dont have the benefit of having a combustable armature that usually limits deformation. The sculptor that I apprenticed from used to add bamboo sticks while casting the wax in the mold
supported with burlap. Both combustable materials and perfectly fine to use at a foundry for lost wax casting.

(From earlier post)...I use microcrystalline foundry blend or victory brown. ...
Are you saying he painted wax into parts of an open mold, and reinforced the wax with sticks, burlap and so on, then closed the mold and sealed the joints? I have used that painting technique on large molds, but never added internal agents as you describe.

As for “Victory Brown”, the local art departments use that, but I gave it up long ago as much too soft for this environment. My studio is air-conditioned, and so are the schools, but I still found it too sticky and messy.
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  #8  
Old 05-24-2005, 07:57 PM
Jamo Jamo is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

I'm not saying I would recommend it but that is what this one sculptor did. It does limit warping to some degree but wax unsupported by a complete structure still moves in mysterious ways. Also he wasn't using this added material in the sculpting stage but for foundry purposes afater the mold was taken. On that note wax with a styrofoam armature underneath doesn't move at all. If it is the same victory brown we are talking about I didn't find it sticky at all. maybe it's preferrence but I have found in the past that warm wax can be a pain to keep detail while handling.
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  #9  
Old 05-24-2005, 10:58 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax; Victory Brown

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamo
I'm not saying I would recommend it but that is what this one sculptor did. It does limit warping to some degree but wax unsupported by a complete structure still moves in mysterious ways. Also he wasn't using this added material in the sculpting stage but for foundry purposes afater the mold was taken. On that note wax with a styrofoam armature underneath doesn't move at all. If it is the same victory brown we are talking about I didn't find it sticky at all. maybe it's preferrence but I have found in the past that warm wax can be a pain to keep detail while handling.
I suspect we are talking about the same “victory brown” wax. When I first started, I did some Internet research, probably after becoming unhappy with this wax. I could be way off the mark, but my impression is that it was marketed under that name during World War II, and possibly earlier. I believe local sculptors said the same thing.

Certainly, it is a microcrystalline wax, and so are several others I tried before settling on my current one. I believe all of these are petroleum derivatives, just different “fractions” removed from a distillation process during refining, at different temperatures.

I also forgot to say that local sculptors may add up to ten percent paraffin, the normal white stuff used in food canning. Paraffin makes the mixture a bit harder and gives the surface a higher luster. More than ten percent is said to make it too brittle. I think paraffin also is considered microcrystalline, and that it simply is a very highly purified form of the same thing.
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  #10  
Old 08-03-2005, 06:43 PM
grayem grayem is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

I beleive you can buy summer wax and winter wax from wax suppliers, like Remet.com
I saw a video of a foundry on a tropical island and they mxed red sprue wax with the brown to get a stiffer wax that wouldnt melt too fast. I ahve working the summer with what must have been winter wax outside in the sun, and it jsut didnt work. It was like silly putty after 2 hours.
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  #11  
Old 08-03-2005, 10:17 PM
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Yes, obviously direct experience with the wax you have is necessary. These waxes often are mixed by the sculptor, and until you try, you won’t know the properties.

You might buy a small amount of wax from a local sculpture supplier or art school, if you can, or ask them to look at a small sample of the wax you have, for comparison. Then you can get an idea of whether you need to mix a harder (higher-melting) wax with what you have, or try a harder wax overall. Just remember, always get microcrystalline wax. That can come from different sources, such as petroleum or bee honeycombss.
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  #12  
Old 10-25-2005, 10:37 AM
Bford Bford is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

It this is the wrong forum for this, I apologize in advance...please advise if so. I am going to be up front - I work in the wax industry - I sell wax. Regarding Brown Micro wax - VB wax is longer being produced. We have formulated a very good replacement. I know this product has been a mainstay to sculptors for many years...and I want you to know someone is out there interested in keeping the tradition alive. In reverence to this post not becoming any more of a commerical, i am not listing my company name or products. Feel free to contact me directly with any questions or if i can be of assistance. Thank you for your time.
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  #13  
Old 10-29-2005, 09:25 AM
sdg77 sdg77 is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

indigo- hi! i am also just getting started in wax in a foundry class at my local university. i really hated the stuff at first- found it hard to work with- but i am learning- and i am really beginning to enjoy it. i use the victory brown wax.

i work the wax like clay- i keep a bucket of hot water to soften the wax and a bucket of cold water to freeze it when i get something i like. i also keep a hot plate to heat some basic tools and a cheap soldering iron. You could also use an alcohol lamp. The tools i use the most are my fingers and the skin is getting worn off in some places! i model the wax like clay, but once it is frozen i also can carve away at it.

i think you just need to play with it- it may be frustrating at first but keep at it!

also for stiffening the wax- my prof. recommends 1lb parafin to 10lb victory brown- and absolutely nor more than 2lbs per 10lbs.

hope this helps!
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  #14  
Old 10-29-2005, 02:15 PM
F.C. White F.C. White is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

BFORD,

I would very much like to have more information in what you offer of a wax product. Thanks.
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  #15  
Old 10-30-2005, 01:43 AM
BMBourgoyne BMBourgoyne is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

I would strongly recommend this book:
Figure Sculpture in Wax and Plaster (Paperback)
by Richard McDermott Miller
ISBN: 0486253546
its about $10.00 at Amazon.com, as it is a old Dover book, but I've yet to see one better-- it is very straight forward and very useful for modeling wax sculpture.

good luck
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  #16  
Old 11-13-2005, 07:36 PM
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realsculpt realsculpt is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

check out" Ross wax" company in new jersey i dont know thier number but they make some great waxes, also darby dental, sells yellow bite wax, its what i use, you can also get "castaline" thats really cool stuff. i would get a crockpot, melt wax in it a tthe 200 degree setting or less, this can keep it liquid, then pour it in to bricks or plastic cups as it cools it can become pliable. Darby sells wax pens too, they are for dental and jewelry making, that are pricey though. you can also smooth wax with mineral spirits and a stencil brush. I know some withh get those cheap clipon spotlights, tape a metal pie pan to it and heat the wax with a low watt light bulb, to keep it pliable.

for figures, i know people in the toy industry sculpt un supersculpty, then mold it and then pour wax into it to do final details.

anyway hope that helps a bit.
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  #17  
Old 03-07-2006, 10:11 AM
Bford Bford is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Looking for a Victory Brown type wax? I am the manufacturer of this wax...if you need less than pallet quantities, I am happy to direct you to one of our distributors.

Test Description Test Method Min. Max. Typical
MELT POINT °F(°C) ASTM D-127 150 (65.6) 170 (76.7) 162 (72.2)
PENETRATION @ 77°F ASTM D-1321 20 35
PENETRATION @ 110°F ASTM D-1321 90 200
VISC @ 210°F (SUS) ASTM D-2161 70 100
COLOR ASTM D-1500 DARK BROWN
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  #18  
Old 03-25-2006, 11:53 AM
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dondougan dondougan is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Getting started in wax

Ancient waxes for lostwax casting were usually combinations of beeswax, crushed and sifted lump rosin, and charcoal dust for color - all materials mixed when the wax was at liquid.

Softer waxes have more beeswax, harder ones have more rosin. Softer waxes allow for greater ease in modelling work, harder waxes allow for greater ease in carving work. The color is to allow easier perception and modelling of form by reducing or eliminating the visual distortions caused by the natural translucency of the wax.

Commercially-prepared and colored waxes are much less trouble for the contemporary modeller/founder than compounding ancient wax formulas (I've tried it the old way), but knowing the methods can only help your understanding of the processes.

For working in non-air-conditioned Italian foundry studios the common means of dealing with Mediterranean summer heat and its effect on the wax model is to keep a tub of water (in a shaded area) in which the wax models are placed/stored between working sessions.

Anything combustible can be used in the lostwax process as either a form, texture, or as a reinforcing armature -- though the required time to burn-out the mold completely (usually about 24 hours at full burn-out temperature [550-degrees Centigrade] for a 100% wax model investment) will be increased with usage of anything in the model harder and denser than the wax itself. Bamboo skewers and toothpicks are commonly employed as reinforcing armatures, and thin enough that they will not increase the burnout time if used.

Blocks of expanded styrene foam can be used as a core for more massive forms, though as a general rule-of-thumb solid bronze castings should be no more than 1-1/2-inches thick maximum -- anything thicker will tend to deform as the molten bronze cools and shrinks in the mold.

In practical terms the thinnest areas of the model for casting should be no less than 1/8-inch, and twice that thickness would be preferred for the wall of a hollow casting. Small surface details can be made thinner, but only if in sufficient contact with substantially larger masses that will prevent premature freezing or 'cold shuts' when the molten metal is being poured into the mold.

Shrinkage is not an issue with cast iron.
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  #19  
Old 11-24-2006, 04:20 PM
Mimiche Mimiche is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

thank you to direct me to a distributor for victory brown wax I'm in Louisiana
Michele
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  #20  
Old 12-28-2006, 05:52 AM
joaopedro joaopedro is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Hi!
I've recently melted some wax from candles into cylindrical molds, and got some nice wax cylinders in which i'm planning to sculpt 1:32 figurines. I was thinking about using the figurines to make a mold out of plaster and then melt the wax out of the mold. Afterwards, I would melt lead and poor it into the mold to make 1:32 lead figurines. My question is: will the lead fill all the parts of the mold without creating any bubbles? Will the lead be liquid enough to fill the mold so that all the details are clearly perceptible? Have you got any suggestions to improve this method? Or do you know another method?
Best regards,
Joăo Pedro
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  #21  
Old 11-12-2007, 10:42 PM
VRMMotion VRMMotion is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Hi Bford,
I read the thread where you described yourself as a distributer of victory brown type wax. I need to buy a bulk ammount. What is the name of your company?
Thanks!
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  #22  
Old 11-13-2007, 05:30 PM
dilida dilida is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

VRM,

Hi, this is an old thread you are replying to, so I don't know if Bford is still around. There has been some discussion of Victory Brown here, try searching it for all the responses. The bad news is they don't manufacture it anymore, and the best replacement, Optimus 3, is not quite the same. But good luck, maybe you can find some.

lisa
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  #23  
Old 11-27-2007, 04:09 PM
VRMMotion VRMMotion is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Thanks,
Fortunetly, I have just bought a large slab of Victory Brown from a company in NYC. They call it victory brown sculpture wax, and so far its just what I was looking for! This mysterious wax is obviously making a comeback . . .
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  #24  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:14 PM
dilida dilida is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Would you be willing to share the name of this company?

lisa
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  #25  
Old 06-04-2009, 09:38 AM
Indigo Indigo is offline
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Re: Getting Started in Wax

Hello!
I know this is an old thread but I wanted to thank (only 4 years late ) everyone who posted. It helped a LOT! I ended up getting 10lbs of a very dark and medium wax, I believe it was from eBay.
The only problem with it is that, like I mentioned, it's toooo dark! very hard to see any detail!
I will probably be buying some new wax here soon that is a lot lighter, perhaps a medium tan.
Thanks again for the input guys! I consider myself experienced in wax casting now
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