Friday, November 2, 2012

07 Carving Wax Nº 3

The wax pot is probably the most important wax tool. I use an electric hot plate and an old aluminum pressure cooker pot for my wax pot. I melt my wax directly on the burner. I have a mark on the dial of the hot plate which tells me exactly where to set the heat for softening the carving wax. A little bit hotter than that setting melts the carving wax without causing it to get too hot. A meat thermometer may be used to check the temperature of the carving wax when it is melting. Click on any image to enlarge it.

This is another old aluminum pressure cooker pot that I use as a wax pot. It does not have handles, so I wear heavy duty leather gloves when I am handling it. I also have a small pouring ladle that I use for pouring small molds, like for hands or feet. The small ladle gives me more control of the pouring.

This photo shows some studio-made metal wax working tools along side a jeweler's alcohol lamp. The lamp is filled with denatured alcohol. The lamp has a wick which is lit, and burns with a clean flame. A metal tool is heated in the flame to warm it up for working with carving wax.

I made these metal wax working tools from the banding strap that was discarded from a pallet of building materials. To make the tools, I drew the outline of the tool onto the banding with a Sharpie permanent marker. Then I used a grinder to grind away the metal up to the line. I finished the tool with a file and some sandpaper.

This is a finished metal wax working tool that can be heated with an alcohol lamp. Other tools that I have for working with an alcohol lamp are old dental tools. Just about any metal object can be used, as long as it is the shape needed, and has enough length so it can be held without getting too hot to hold onto.

This photo shows some other wax working tools that I have in my studio. There is a small blow torch. It has a wick, and is filled with alcohol, and lit, then I blow through the pipe to direct the flame over the surface of the wax  to smooth it. Next to the blow torch is the jeweler's alcohol lamp. Also shown is a Weller SP-23 25 watt soldering iron. I use the soldering iron as a wax pen.

This is a close-up of the soldering iron. Extra tips may be purchased for the soldering iron. These tips may be lightly forged to make different shapes for the wax pen. Also shown is the paring knife I use to scrape carving wax.

This photo shows, from left to right, the Weller SP-23 soldering iron, a package of extra soldering iron tips, a wood burning tool, and the Variable Temperature Soldering Iron Controller I made in order to convert the soldering iron and wood burning tool into wax pens. This controller was an inexpensive and easy project to make. It uses a 600 watt push-on/push-off rotary dial dimmer switch to control the amount of electricity that goes to the soldering iron. The triangle is a night light that I plugged-in to the outlet so I can tell when the controller is ON/OFF. When the soldering iron is plugged directly into the wall outlet, it is always ON, and at the maximum temperature of about 700 degrees. That is much to hot to work on carving wax. When the soldering iron is plugged into the controller, I can regulate the amount of electricity going to the iron, so it is not always at maximum. I can also turn it ON/OFF easily by pushing the rotary dial.

This is a professional wax pen. It is a  Giles Precision Waxer. These wax pens have been manufactured by the Giles company since the 1920s. The cost for one of these wax pens is about $150.00, brand new. A replacement handle costs about $70.00. This Giles wax pen was mentioned in the book, Pop Sculpture by Tim Bruckner.

This is another studio-made tool. It is a hacksaw blade with some masking tape wrapped around one end for a handle. The teeth point backwards toward the handle, and it is used to cut carving wax, or make slots for stringing. The hacksaw blade is pulled to make a cut.

Other carving wax tools include drill bits, Die Sinker's Rifflers, refiled steel nails, and sandpaper. Sand paper comes in different grades or grits. Sheets of 80 grit, 100 grit, 120 grit, 240 grit, 280 grit, and up to 600 grit may be used to finish carving wax. The sandpaper is cut into small pieces for finishing the carving wax. The small pieces of sandpaper may be organized and stored in a small box.

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