Introduction: Simple Wax Cast Replicas in Clay
Wax is a great material that's easy to find, melt, and re-melt! Beyond its obvious usefulness to candle-makers, others might choose to cast it because it can be carved later, or to create another mold for lost-wax casting a metal. First and foremost here, it's a cheap and easy way to try some casting without much waiting or money!
Wax - You probably don't have to buy any! Wax can be found left at the bottom of any candles you've burned out. Crayon wax will function too, though if turned into a candle it may not burn as well.
Mold - I used an oven bake clay here. Air dry could pretty much get you there too! I tried wet clay, of both types, and play-doh, but found they were sticking to the wax pretty bad and almost impossible to clean off.
Step 1: What to Cast?
This process isn't suited for casting every shaped object! Think, you'll want something you can press down into the clay, then pull back out without messing up the impression in the clay. Features you couldn't pull out, undercuts, will need a different molding method! Each of the items I have pictured would be pretty good for this.
Step 2: Creating the Mold
Protect your work area with something like parchment paper.
Take your clay and work it into a ball, and press into the table to make a size large enough to press your object into.
Press the face of your object you want molded down into the clay.
You'll notice the clay pushes away from the edges - you can push up around the object for a bit tighter fit, but leave some of that angle. You'll thank yourself, it makes it much easier to remove the wax.
Off for drying by your clay's instructions! With this standard Sculpey clay I had some success heating for less than the recommended time to keep it a bit more flexible for removing our finished wax in the end.
Step 3: Melting the Wax
Because wax melts at low temperature and we don't want it to burn, it's only safe to use a double boiler method instead of putting a pot of wax right on the stove.
'Double boiler' means we will have our melting pot suspended above boiling water, like you see in the 2nd picture - heated by the water and steam more gently. I used a metal pitcher that came with a coffee machine, but any vessel you can rest on a boiling pot of water works.
Since this is less delicate than tempering chocolate and isn't a proper double boiler that traps steam fully I let my metal container submerge just slightly in the water. The wax will begin to melt in a couple minutes! After that your goal is just to keep it liquid, not as hot as can be.
I had a BUNCH of spare tea candles to do this with. I popped them out of the cases, melted them, and used chopsticks (tweezers alternatively) to pull the wicks out of the melted wax. The purple's from wax dice added. If you've got a larger or more stubborn glass cup candle to melt, you can float it directly in the water and then transfer the wax.
The numbers: Most household waxes melt between 120-140F, and most are professionally poured from 140-180F
Step 4: Pouring to the Mold
Seems straightforward! There's a couple things to keep in mind:
Drying wax sticks to things - a bit of mold release help is gonna go a long way. There are MANY methods and products people use for this. If you're looking for simple and easy, I found wetting the mold with water before pouring worked. (NEVER do this with anything that pours hotter than water's boiling point). Too much water ruins the finish, but just wetting it like the first photo made removal much easier and less prone to breaking than the control.
Carefully pour the wax so it spreads through your mold like you see here!
Step 5: Remove and Enjoy!
Let the wax cool completely - it's less prone to break that way. With the small amount of flex in my mold I was able to push from the top on opposite sides around the mold to pop loose the edges a bit, then push from behind just enough to slide a fingernail into a gap and pry my finished cast out!
Congratulations! It's even easier if you're pouring a new candle - pour directly into the glass jar and it doesn't have to come out again!
Now you've tried a simple casting technique, and can explore what else is possible.
2 years ago
This casted really well :)