Cuttle Fish Bone Casting is a method of metal casting dating back hundreds of years. Nowadays this method of casting has been replaced with waste wax casting. The reason I was drawn to this method of casting is due to its use of discarded cuttle fish bones. Reading peoples stories of how they have found them lying on the beach, taken them home and created something special from it.
Cuttlefish casting is an inexpensive technique as it doesnâ€™t rely on heavy machinery. The bone itself consists of two parts. One side is tough whilst the other is soft and spongy. If you are lucky enough to
find one along the beach, they must be cleaned and hung in the sun for a few days to dry. The ones I used were purchased quite cheaply from a pet shop as they are commonly used in parakeet cages.
To start this process take your cuttle fish bone and using a sharp blade cut it in half. Place the two soft sides of the bone together and rub back and forth until they lie flat against each other.
You can temporarily hold the two bones together with masking tape whilst you do the next bit. Start by carving an oval into the top edge of the bones. This works as a funnel in which you pour the molten metal into.
Take the bones apart again and start carving your design into the spongy part of the bone. You need to carve a small chute for the metal to run down before it gets to the carved design.
You can also push metal objects into the spongy side to leave an impression.
This is how the cuttle fish bone looks when an object has been pushed into it. You can see the imprint it leaves behind. There are times when you cant push the object in very far. This is due to the
compacting dust, you can rectify this by carving into it with a knife or specific carving tools.
Hold the pieces together and wrap a long piece of wire around them to keep them firmly in place.
If you are using Pewter tankards, they will need to be cut into smaller pieces using sharp pliers. You must use a stainless steel saucepan or ladle, preferably with a pouring edge.
Place the bones between two bricks, these will hold it whilst you pour the molten metal into it. This is the sensible option although you can just do what I did and thread two pieces of wire through an old tin can.
Take your melting vessel and place your metal inside it. I have chosen to use pewter but you can use silver. It doesnâ€™t take long at all to melt on a hot stove.
Pour the molten metal into the funnel being careful now to splash any. Do not rush this process as it can easily go wrong.
Once the metal has cooled, open up the mould and give it a rub with some wire wool or a metal file.