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eminiscent of arroyos (dry riverbeds) and patterns
left in the sand along seashores, the linear, flowing
texture of cuttlebone casting is the perfect back-
ground for a textured gold frame, cast gold pebbles, and
a bezel-set opal cabochon all evoking water imagery.
Learn how to form a gold frame around your casting,

and then cast tiny gold rocks in a carved charcoal block.
Fabricate a simple bail, make a bezel cup for your favorite
cabochon, and solder all the components together using
the fewest number of soldering operations. To learn the
basics of this casting technique, see A Beginners Guide
to Cuttlebone Casting, in the May 2012 issue.
Learn how to

frame your casting

make a bail

cast gold rocks

build a bezel cup, and

solder it all together

by John A. Sartin
Make the
Most of Your
2012 Kalmbach Publishing Co. This material may not be reproduced
in any form without permission from the publisher.
Learn how to cast tiny gold rocks
that mimic the look of polished
river rocks. This pendant is 1 in.
(38 mm) long. 2
Cut the wire for the frame. Wrap a piece
of 22-gauge (0.6 mm), 564-in. (2 mm)-wide
rectangular 14k gold wire around the edge
of your casting [1]. Use a jewelers saw

a 4/0 blade to cut

B the ends of the
wire where they overlap, and file the
ends until they meet flush. Its okay if the
frame doesnt perfectly fit the casting, but
it should be as close as possible.
Solder the frame. Apply flux and one
pallion of 14k yellow-gold hard solder to
the join where the ends of the wire meet.
Light your torch

, and heat the frame
evenly until the solder flows B . Quench,

B , rinse, and dry the frame.
Shape the frame to the edge of the
casting. Tap the frame with a cross-peen
hammer on an anvil horn to stretch it until
it fits snugly around the casting [2].
Place the frame around the casting, and
use a ball-peen hammer to form the metal
into the castings curves [3].
If the frame still doesnt fit, hold the
casting and the frame together, and use
the cross-peen hammer to stretch the
frame until it fits snugly [4].
NOTE: Work slowly, and dont overstretch
the frame. If you make the frame too big,
youll need to remove a section of the
frame, resolder it, and form it to the
casting again.
Solder the frame to the casting. Cut
two 3-in. (76 mm) pieces of stainless steel
binding wire. Wrap one wire around the
frame and the casting, and twist the ends
together to secure the two pieces [5].
Repeat with the second wire. The frame
must be tight against the entire edge of
the casting.
NOTE: Be careful when soldering gold
and sterling silver; if you dont control
the heat, the gold can easily melt all over
your sterling silver (see The Eutectic
Phenomenon, page 5).
Place the framed casting face down
on a steel soldering screen, and place the
screen on a tripod. Solder the frame to
the casting with hard silver solder. Quench,
pickle, rinse, and dry the piece completely.
NOTE: Only stainless steel binding wire
can be placed in pickle without copper-
plating your pieces. If you have used low-
carbon, black, annealed-steel wire to
hold the frame and the casting together,
remove it before placing your soldered
piece in the pickle.
14k wire: 22-gauge (0.6 mm),
rectangular, 564-in. (2 mm) wide
14k scrap or casting grain (amount
is dictated by your design)
22k bezel wire (length depends
on size of cabochon)
Yellow-gold solder:
14k: hard, easy
21k: hard
Sterling silver:
Tubing: 732-in. (4.5 mm) outside
diameter (OD)
Strip: 18-gauge (1.0 mm), 532 in.
(4 mm) wide, in. (13 mm)
Sheet: 26-gauge (0.4 mm) (amount is
dictated by size of cabochon)
toolboxes, www.artjewel
Stone setting
additional tools & supplies
Stainless steel binding wire
Soldering tripod and screen
Small chisel
Miter jig
Metal shears
Steel bar stock: 1 x 2 x in.
(25.5 x 51 x 6.5 mm)
Mini bristle disks on a screw mandrel
Gold and silver (Hoover and Strong,
Opal (Southwestern Minerals,
All other materials (Rio Grande,
See Safety Basics at
1 2 3
4 5
Learn fundamental techniques
in these bonus tutorials:
Basic sawing of metal

How to file

Lighting and using a torch


Pickling and cleaning

Making a bezel

Sweat soldering

Patinating with liver

of sulfur

Setting a cabochon
in a bezel

Videos, 3
Add texture to the frame. Texture the
edge of the frame by tapping a small chisel
with a hammer around its perimeter [6].
Gold rocks
Carve a charcoal block. Use a flex shaft
with a round bur to carve a variety of small
indentations in a charcoal block [7].
Form the gold rocks. Place a small piece
of 14k gold in one indentation. You can
estimate the amount of metal you need
to fill the cavity. Light your torch, and
melt the gold in the cavity [8].
Once the gold is molten, take a 1 x 2-in.
(25.5 x 51 mm) piece of -in. (6.5 mm) thick
steel bar stock, or a second flat charcoal
block, and carefully place it on top of the
melted gold [9].
SAFETY NOTE: Do not drop or slap
the steel bar stock (or charcoal block) on
top of the molten gold; this can cause it
to splash out and burn you, as well as ruin
the casting.
Remove the steel bar [10] or second
charcoal block, and pick your cast rock out
of the cavity with a pair of tweezers [11].
Repeat the process in another indentation
to make a total of 14 gold rocks. Place
them in pickle until they are clean.
6 7 8
9 10
Cut the tubing. Insert a piece of 732-in.
(4.5 mm) sterling silver tubing into a miter
jig. Cut a 45 angle on one end. Measure
1132-in. (10 mm) along the longer edge of
the tubing, and cut an opposing 45 angle
of the other end [12].
Cut the sheet. Cut a 532-in. (4 mm) wide
strip of 18-gauge (1.0 mm) sterling silver at
least in. (13 mm) long. Using a round
needle file, file a groove in one short end
so that it matches the curve of the tubing.
Solder the tubing to the sheet. File a
groove in a charcoal block with a round
file. Make it deep enough to allow the strip
to align with the center of the tubing [13].
Solder the tubing and sheet together
with hard silver solder. Quench, pickle,
rinse, and dry the assembly completely.
Cut the sheet so it extends 18 in. (3 mm)
from the tube, and file a curve on each
14 15 16 4
side of the sheet with a half-round needle
file [14]. File the end of the sheet to match
the curvature of the top edge of your
framed casting. Remove any burs left
from sawing with a flat and round needle
file, and sand the edges until theyre
smooth with progressively finer-grits
of wet/dry sandpaper.
Bezel cup
Cut the bezel wire. Select a cabochon,
and use dividers to measure from the
bottom of the stone to where the shoulder
breaks, just beyond the point where the
cabochon begins to curve inward [15].
Transfer this measurement to a piece of
22k gold bezel wire with the dividers [16].
TIP: I prefer using 22k gold bezel
wire when setting soft stones
because it is very malleable.
Solder the bezel wire. Wrap the bezel
wire tightly around the base of the
cabochon. Cut the wire with shears where
the bezel wire overlaps. File the ends flat,
and solder the bezel wire closed with hard
21k yellow-gold solder. Quench, pickle, and
dry the bezel. Check the fit of the stone,
and make adjustments as necessary.
Sand the edge of the bezel. Make sure
the bottom edge of the bezel is flush by
gently sanding it in a figure-8 or circular
motion on a piece of 400-grit sandpaper.
Again, check the fit of the cabochon.
Solder the bezel to a backplate. Solder
the bezel to a small piece of 26-gauge
(0.4 mm) sterling silver sheet with medium
silver solder. Remove the excess sheet
extending around the bezel with a
jewelers saw, and file and sand the
bezel cup [17]

B .
Assemble the pendant
Lay out the components. Before
soldering your components together,
decide which end is the top of your
pendant, and lay out your bezel cup and
gold rocks. If you stack a few of the rocks,
set aside the ones that will go on top of
the others; they will require a different
solder than the others.
Attach the gold rocks. Set the bottom
layer of gold rocks upside down on a
soldering block. Apply flux, and sweat a
pallion of medium silver solder

B on each
rock. Melt a pallion of 14k yellow-gold easy
solder on the stacked rocks you set aside
previously. Pickle the rocks, and set them
aside in separate groups.
Flux the entire front surface of your cast
pendant. Place the bezel cup where you
want it, and then place all the layers of
gold rocks solder-side down around the
cup. Carefully remove the bezel cup with
a pair of tweezers, making sure not to
disturb the rocks.
Allow the flux to dry before soldering;
this keeps the rocks in place and makes it
easier to solder.
Place the pendant on a steel soldering
screen on a tripod, and begin heating the
pendant from below [18]. Watch for the
stones to drop slightly; this indicates that
the solder on the bottom of the rocks is
beginning to flow. Move the flame to the
top of the pendant, and continue to watch
the movement of the rocks. Remove the
17 18 19






Discover three types of
torch flames and when to use them at
Cast Away (July 2006)
Where to buy: 800.533.6644,
John A. Sartin is an award-winning jewelry artist who merges
new and old fabrication techniques to create truly original,
one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art. The driving influence
behind his work is the challenge; to conceptualize the piece
then solve all the problems that arise in the making of the
piece is the most enjoyable aspect of the craft. Currently
residing in Alburquerque, NM, his work can be seen at art fairs, festivals, and at his
website, www.
all levels
One of the oldest forms of casting is a safe and
easy source for jewelry-making creativity.
by Jennifer Stenhouse
The texture of these jewelry
pieces is from the cuttlebone.
The opal brooch is 21 x 59mm
(13 16 x 25 16 in.).
uttlefish bone or cuttlebone is the center bone of a squidlike mollusk. Youve
probably seen cuttlebones at your local pet store hanging in birdcages for the birds
to sharpen their beaks. The chalklike material (calciumcarbonate) has a thin, hard
surface on one side and a soft crust on the other, making it ideal for direct
casting, one of the earliest known casting processes. In direct casting, molten
metal directly fills a design carved into a mold surface, producing a mirror image
of the design in the finished cast object. Cuttlebone casting is safe, fast, versatile, and inexpensive.
It can easily be done with basic jewelry tools and a torch.
The fragile cuttlebone must be handled with care to avoid cracking the bone. The length and
thickness of the bone will limit the size of your casting. Most bones are oblong
and range fromfour to 14 inches (10.235.6cm) in length. Despite its
fragility and size restrictions, cuttlebone has its benefits. The
cuttlebone mold burns during casting, producing carbon,
which keeps the molten metal clean of oxides. It is also
easy to carve; any sharp tool will work. Also, due to
its organic origin, cuttlebone has growth rings, like
wood grain. This distinctive fingerprint texture
makes cuttlebone a favorite for many artists to
use with direct casting.
Cuttlebone casting plays a starring role in this dramatic
neckpiece that combines forged elements, bezel-set
gemstones, and pearls.
62 Ar t Jewel r y Jul y 2006
36 Art Jewelry May 2012 37
hen you think about casting, you likely think of lost-
wax casting, a technique in which a wax model is
made, invested in a flask, and burned out in a kiln.
Then, molten metal is poured into the empty cavity. As
an alternative, this project introduces you to cuttlebone casting,
an easier, centuries-old process that requires far less equipment
than traditional lost-wax casting.
A cuttlebone is the calcium-rich internal skeleton of the
cuttlefish, a squidlike mollusk. Cuttlebone has been used for
centuries as a casting medium, because its easy to carve and
it imparts a distinctive ridged pattern on the cast piece. Each
cuttlebone can be used to cast only once, so be sure to plan
your design carefully.
A Beginners
Guide to
Get started with a centuries-
old casting
technique that you can do
at home!
Prepare the cuttlebone. Inspect your
cuttlebone; one side is hard and shell-like,
and the other is soft [1]. Use a jewelers
saw with a 4/0 blade to cut B the
cuttlebone in half lengthwise, following
the natural delineation between the hard
and soft side of the bone [2]. Discard
the soft piece, or set it aside for a future
project. Cut the piece of cuttlebone
with the hard shell in half widthwise [3].
NOTE: The soft part of the cuttlebone
is easy to saw, but the hard part is
surprisingly difficult. Saw slowly, and
dont be surprised if you break a blade.
Choose one of the hard-sided pieces.
Attach a piece of 80-grit sandpaper to a
hard, flat sanding block, or tape a piece of
80-grit sandpaper to a flat work surface.
Rub the soft side of the cuttlebone against
the sandpaper in a figure-8 or circular
motion until the surface is flat [4].
This is a dusty process; wear a dust
mask or particulate respirator, and always
sand the cuttlebone outside or
over a trash can.
Carve the design. Draw your design onto
a piece of thin cardboard, and cut it out
with a craft knife [5]. This allows you to
change the orientation of the design on
the cuttlebone and achieve different
textures in your final piece [6]. Make sure
to leave at least in. (9.5 mm) of space on
the cuttlebone around the top, bottom,
and sides of the design.
Trace your design onto the cuttlebone
1 2 3
4 5 6
Cuttlebones range in size from
610 in. (15.225.4 cm) long; use
the largest one you can find. 5
the eutectic
Sterling silver, 22k gold, and 14k gold have different melting temperatures.
Sterling silver melts at 1645F (896C), 22k gold melts at 1830F (999C), and
14k gold melts at 1500F (816C). Add to that different grades of silver and
gold solders, and you are soldering with multiple distinct alloys with different
melting points, and that can cause a problem.
When alloys are combined and they reach a specific temperature, they form
a separate alloy at the point where the alloys meet, causing the melting
temperature of that join to be lowered. This is called a eutectic reaction.
When soldering, make sure you heat all components evenly. Repetitive
soldering cycles increase the possibility of the gold melting and flowing
freely across your pendant.
flame when you see a shiny flash of solder
under the rocks.
Quench the pendant in water, and
scrub the surface vigorously with a brass
brush and a drop of dishwashing liquid.
If you sweat-soldered the gold rocks
correctly, they will be permanently
attached. If some of the gold rocks fall
off, solder them again. Try to get them
all attached the second time.
Attach the bezel cup. Apply flux to the
pendant and the bezel cup. Heat the piece
from below, and solder the bezel cup onto
the pendant with easy solder. Quench,
pickle, rinse, and dry the pendant.
Attach the bail. Place the bail in the
groove you previously carved in the
charcoal block. Line up the end of the
bail with the top edge of the cast pendant
[19]. Apply flux and a pallion of easy silver

If youve never tried cuttlebone
casting before, its time to learn
the basics! Pick up some design
tips, carve your cuttlebone, and
cast your custom design with A
Beginners Guide to Cuttlebone
Casting. This introductory article
by John A. Sartin was published
in our May 2012 issue. Purchase
your copy at www.artjewelrymag.
solder to the join, and heat it evenly until
the solder flows. Quench, pickle, and
clean the pendant.
Finish the pendant, and set the stone.
Apply a liver of sulfur patina

B , and
use a brass brush to highlight the textures
of the pendant. Polish the areas of the
pendant you want to shine with fine-grit,
radial bristle disks mounted on a screw
mandrel in a flex shaft. Set your cabochon
in the bezel

B .
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