Instructables
Picture of Cuttlefish Casting
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Heres a simple way to cast pewter, heres my way of casting, theres more info out there online aswell. This is an ancient technique that allows the casting of basic shapes without the cost of expensive mould materials.
Cuttlefish wash up on the shores all the time, all thats left when found on the beach is a white oval shape with a soft side and a hard bony side.
What you need:
A few cuttlefish( can be found at the beach or pet stores have them for Parrots!)
Small off cut of hardboard.
Leadfree pewter.
Blowtorch or small camping stove.
Sanpaper.
files.
Hacksaw.
 
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Step 1: Make the mould.

Picture of Make the mould.
cuttlecast.JPG
cuttle-mould.JPG
So get hold of a nice dry cuttlefish bone, if its damp it wont take a mould and the hot pewter will spit. Cut off one end of the cuttlefish bone with a hacksaw, so that you have a square end.
There are two ways to make the impression in the mould, you can carve away at the soft side with small files and nails or you can use a simple piece of jewellery you have around and push this into the soft side of the mould, so that when its removed it leaves an impression. (see photos)
Flatten the soft side of the bone with some sandpaper wrapped around a bock of wood. Then make the impression about half inch or so down from the top of the flat end of the cuttlefish, then with a file make the pouring sprue from the top of the mould. This is where the molten pewter will be poured in and when finished it gets cut off.
Take a small piece of hardboard that will fit over the back of the cuttlefish, this will become the back of the mould, rub this board lightly over the soft side of the bone so that it sits flat.
In the photo of the cuttlefish with the round shape, Im making a ring with a flat top so this mould has a sprue to pour into and a hole at the base for the metal to flow into another mould for the ring top. (but thats another story!)
webman38026 months ago
Do you do anything to darken the backgrounds (such as on the bracelet example in Step 4)? Or is that just unpolished pewter? It looks like a wash of black paint in the recesses.
Hi Webman, sorry to take so long to get back,
yes I do sometimes use black acrylic paint to darken the dimples in pieces, if you put it on before you polish the piece it will stay in the dimple, but the raised bit will shine up.
Hope that helps
Cheers
heres a link to some work on Deviantart;http://windswept-gallery.deviantart.com/#/art/Amber-rings-408641786?_sid=6cfb0095
Kynan4th1 year ago
Finally a use for those things. If only the pewter washed up as well!
i use homemade clay to make the mould, then clamp a piece of good old tennessee maple to the top for the second part
Homemade clay sounds interesting, whats that?
Cheers
native clay-dirt, water, and a little ash from a fire to hold it together
webman38022 years ago
Nice use of available materials. As Raised said, we don't have them wash up on this side of the Atlantic (at least not in my area), so the only source would be pet stores. Have you ever tried plaster or resin to see if that would work as a mold?
Some years ago I tried aluminum casting and tried using plaster of paris as a mould. I was unable to get my aluminum hot enough to flow so I melted the metal directly in the mould and when it got soft enough it conformed to the shape of the mould. The problem I had with plaster of paris is it didn't take the heat well and just by itself would crumble and break. I reinforced it with metal wire i had around here. It worked but I'd try something else first. I am wondering about using the type of cement used in kilns to make the mould. When the weather gets warmer I will be using charcoal blocks to do some casting. I think this should work as I have used them to cast gold some years ago. I"d love to find a way to make my own charcoal blocks as they can be a bit pricey when bought. You can find them under Charcoal Soldering Blocks in jewelry supply catalogs or web sites.
Thanks for the reply webman,
I have tried plaster of paris and auto body filler(bondo) which do work and stand up to the heat well. I still use a few two part moulds for jewellery, so I will do a structable soon. The other thing I have tried is silicone sealant, that comes in tubes for sealing around showers & sinks, it works but its a bit tricky to use.
Cheers
I wonder if oogoo would work well here?
If your casting pewter Try blue tack the none stick putty for putting posters on your bed room wall.

Do it outside - It will burn if hot enough.
And as a small safety issue I would cast over a tray of dry sand so any spills will not splash over you.
thepelton2 years ago
Another material that can be used for easy casting of metals is soapstone, especially if you live inland, like I do.

I recall finding and throwing away a cuttlebone when I was on liberty with the Navy in the Phillipines that was about fifteen inches (38 cm) long.
pie R []ed2 years ago
Where do you get pewter bars?
Hi,
I get leadfree off the web, in the uk a company called Tiranti sell it. Best to shop around on the web as the price does vary a lot. For small casting you can use leadfree plumbers solder from the hardware store. This has a high tin content, hope that helps.
I've found dented pewter mugs at the thrift store for dirt cheap sometime. Like $1-2 for a scratched up tankard with a clear window at the bottom. These weigh about 5 oz each.

To compare, I can get a 16 oz bar shipped to my door for about $17.49 if I spend $100 from www.rotometals.com

The key is to make sure it says "pewter". if not, it's probably zinc. There are a few other tests, but this one will let you sort 99% of the stuff you find.
foobear2 years ago
I wish we had cuttlefish on our beaches! The freaky creature with the cute name
Awesome! I remember the barrettes from before. All beautiful!
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