Sandcast Native American Indian Jewelry - Native American Indian Jewelry _____________________________________________________________________________________ By Seth - http://kotahbearjewelry.com/ Sandcast Native American Indian jewelry making was first introduced by Navajo silversmiths in the early days around 1840. The process begins by using a sandcast, or tufa stone mold, then carving the design into the stone. With this mold, a piece of silver jewelry is made and may become the master template from which all other sandcast jewelry pieces of the same design are produced.Sandcast jewelry making is done by hand and is very labor intensive. The Sandcasting method takes the artisans about three days to make a fair sized medium bracelet. What Is Native American Indian Jewelry Sandcast jewelry making was introduced by using sandstone or tufa stone. Tufa stone is created from crushed volcanic ash which is relatively soft and easier to work with than sandstone when making the carvings. However Sandstone will hold up much better, but the Tufa stone is is the choice among Silversmith because the soft stone is easier to carve.
There are many processes involved in Sandcast jewelry making before the jewelry piece is finished. The artisan starts by cutting a stone into two pieces and grinding both halves until they are smooth on one side. The tufa stone is
sometimes drenched in water to keep the dust to a minimum while carving. Next, vents are carved into the stone outward towards the edges of the stone so that the extremely heated air from the molten silver will have an escape from being trapped in the mold, thus damaging the jewelry design. The next step involves heating the mold with a torch forming carbon on the inside of the halves preventing the silver from sticking to the mold when the halves are separated. Finally the mold is ready to start the silver casting.The halves of the tufa stone are placed together with the pour channels aligned. The, artisans use a number of methods, such as wrapping with wire, plywood board and clamps, or rubber straps tightly around the halves to keep them secure while pouring the molten silver.
The silver is then heated in a crucible with a torch until it is at a high temperature of 1850 degrees. Traditionally, temperature was judged by the color of the molten silver. That is still the most common method used by many artisans today, but now use crucibles that where the heat is digitally controlled. This increases the chance for a successful pour. The molten silver is then poured down through the channel and into the carved mold. Thus the piece is said to have been gravity cast. The tufa stone mold is allowed to cool and the silver piece is removed.A tufa mold may allow several pours if the design is small and relatively simple. With larger, more complex designs, one or two pours is usually all that can be made from a tufa mold before the stone breaks or the design is ruined by the heat of the silver.
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