'Rio Grande'.

Q: I just recieved my 'Rio Grande' catalogs, and all I can say is "WOW" I have been reading those things nonstop. I just have a quick question: can anyone give me a very brief explanation as to what all of those waxes are for in the 'Tools' catalog? I know they have something to so with silversmithing. Do you carve the wax into the shape of the object and make a mold? It seems complicated. Can anyone give me a very short descprition as to the use of those waxes?

A: Yes, the waxes are carved, cut, layered, twisted, and attached to each other in an endless array to create the object to build a mold on. Wax is as unlimited as your imagination. Each type of wax has different properties such as hardness and bendability. In an intricate carving, you want a hard wax, but they are really like clay. When you are finished with your wax, and happy with it, you make a wax "sprue", a stem and you use a type of plaster called "investment". After putting the wet plaster mold on a vacuum & vibrater to rock and roll any bubbles out of the plaster. The plaster mold with the wax goes into a kiln, which burns out the wax (this is why it is called the "lost wax" method) leaving a perfect (with hard work) mold in which you will continue the casting process using a centrifuge & molten liquid hot metal. Fun stuff, believe me. A magical connection to metal . The first centerfuge ran on rubberbands, big ones mind you, pre-electricity. You should see if one of the high schools, colleges, or YMCAs offer a class in this. It isn't as complicated as it seems, but you do need the space and the right tools. There are very simple casting methods, like sandcasting (which is pretty ancient), and casting with a very old and unique method that uses the bones of a cuttlefish. These are not for wax, they are for a carving in stone or metal, and are fun as well. You can learn a lot from the 'Rio Grande' catalogs, and I respect them as they do give so much info in their catalogs. Hunt around & see what is being taught in your area. There is always more to learn and enjoy. Most of all, have fun ! If I remember right, mine came in just a couple weeks after I sent the E-mail - try another one if it has been a month or more. I know they are doing new catalogs right now - the new beads one came about a month ago and the display one last week. I think I ordered it about 2 months ago. I had totally forgotten about them and 2 days ago, this huge package from 'Airborne Express' came to my doorstep! I was surprised that even though I didn't pay for the catlogs, they sent them by 'Airbore Express' (it's expensive!) I also just got my new 'Fire Mountain' catalog. Wow! They have a lot of new gemstone beads.