A couple of days/weeks (time is being rather funny at the moment… and i’m not quite sure what day it is…) ago we were taught how to cast using cuttlefish.
It’s a brilliant and easy way of casting from home and since you can pick cuttlefish up from most pet stores, it’s a pretty economic way of casting too!
What you will need:
two cuttlefish (the biggest ones you can get)
your casting metal (we used pewter because it melts SO easily/quickly)
a crucible and holder
offcuts/scraps of clay
sandpaper or a disc sander
a jewellers saw or a bandsaw
your model/object to cast
Grab yourself two cuttlefish. It helps if you can find two that are roughly the same shape and size… but that doesn’t matter too much (it just makes your job easier).
Using either the bandsaw (if you have access to one) or your jeweller’s saw, cut the edges and bulging side off the cuttlefish. (NOTE: use a dustmask, the dust isn’t harmful but it stinks and if you don’t want that taste/smell of fish lingering around your nose all day then a dustmask is best!)
Next, sand it down using a rough grade of sandpaper or a disc/electric sander to flatten out the cuttlefish.
Your aim is to create flat, straight edges and make the two pieces match up.
Like so! They don’t have to match up exactly… but it’s best if they do!
Now, press your model/item to cast into the cuttlefish. Make sure it’s not too far from the top, but you don’t want it too close either and centre it. Obviously your scale is limited to the size of the cuttlefish. The item you want to cast should be pretty hard… soft or delicate items may break when you try to push them in.
Once you’ve pushed your object half way down into one side, place the other side on top and squeeze together. It takes more pressure than you might think! Be gentle but firm. You see that wee gap? You don’t want that, it needs to be totally flat together.
Before taking the pieces apart, mark out a few lines on each edge so you can match them up when it comes to casting.
Here is what your impression should look like (well ish!).
Use your scraper to make a line from the top of the impression to the top of the cuttlefish and make a little bowl shape at the top… essentially a funnel shape as this is where you will be pouring the metal.
Line up your two pieces with your marks and tightly tape up the cuttlefish (very tightly!) and fill in the sides with your clay scraps.
I don’t have photos, but the next steps are place your cuttlefish into sand to hold it up and then to melt your metal in the crucible and pour into the top! Be careful! Hot metal is dangerous!
The finished casting!
Obviously with this type of casting there is a little flushing and the funnel metal is left… so as usual you will spend ages cleaning up! But as i said it’s an easy and economical, and an effective way of casting from home!