How to: Cuttlefish Casting

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

a torch

masking tape

a scraper

offcuts/scraps of clay

sandpaper or a disc sander

a jewellers saw or a bandsaw

your model/object to cast


How to:

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!

Happy casting!

Chloe out.

The Medal Project

This week we have been given the brief for the British Art Medal Society competition.

Our task: design an art medal.

“These medals are not to be found on the chests of heroes or in athletes’ lockers. They are the contemporary expression of a much older tradition of medals as works of art.”

Check out their gallery for images of past winners.

The brief this year is to either find a way of incorporating text into the medal or design it based on a political statement.

Naturally i have chosen to go with the text!

First of all, i’m going to have a look into what an art medal is and pick out examples that i like:

Check out my Medals pinterest board for a lot more medal inspirations!

Now on to work up my own design!

Chloe out.

DJCAD Open Day (My Work)

Heading to the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design open day?

Make sure you pop down and visit the jewellery department!

My work (pictured below) along with lots and lots of other fabulous jewellers is on display in the corridor and there will be plenty of us wandering around for you to talk to :) If you ignore the hammers and saws and dangerous implements surrounding our desks we really are friendly people!

DJCAD Open Day – 30th -31st October 2012

Chloe out.

Ruby Red Stained Glass

I made a thing…..

Sublimation print on aluminum, sparkly thread, seed beads and oxidised chain.


I’m thinking about making a small range of these to sell on my website:

1. what do you think of it? sexy or not?!

2. what images would you want to see/would you buy?

Comments much appreciated below or tweet me @chloehenderson9 or email me at or befriend me on facebook Chloe Henderson :)


Chloe out.

The Hidden Chamber presentation feedback… and how i feel about it!

For this project the jeweller I was given to research into was Jonathan Matthew Boyd and I think he was chosen for me because of my obvious affinity with words within the last project.

Jonathan is a Glasgow School of Art jewellery graduate and has recently completed an MA in jewellery and metal design at the RCA.  Like me he is interested in words and language and his work reflects that. His main motivation is the desire to make things with his hands and he looks at connecting the written word with the body and does so by encompassing the tools and creations of wordsmiths into his work.

Here are a few examples of his jewellery work. The letters that you see are all cast into either random blobs to represent ink splatters like the ones on the left or into more uniform shapes like the one on the right that capture snippets of conversation.

A couple more examples of his work.

As he is just a recent university graduate, Jonathan doesn’t have a massive body of work, but from the stuff he does have I have managed to source a great deal of inspiration and I’ve focused in on these hidden message wedding bands and they have become the motivation for my own design.

As you can see the rings appear like normal wedding bands when closed, but when opened they reveal a message that is hidden from the rest of the world. I really love these rings, both their simple aesthetics and the concept, which is one I have chosen to emanate within my own work.

I liked the idea of capturing a special message, a little piece of text that meant something to someone and with that concealing it so it was very unique to the individual wearing the piece. So, I went on to research into hidden message jewellery, but kinda realised there was a lot of it out there already, but I was driven enough to conceive my own design.

It took a while for that spark to hit, and at first I just doodled away trying to come up with ideas, and it wasn’t until after a tutorial conversation and an influence creeping over from my other module Taking Time: Exploring Ephemeral Practices, I came up with my idea.

This is the first little sketch that I did of my design, at this point I was purely illustrating the mechanisms and I hadn’t really thought about the aesthetics. The basic structure is a locket, but with two hinged doors instead of one. Inside is a piece of paper written with a hidden message, when the doors are opened for the first time a little bag, that is attached to the hooks inside bursts and dispels the liquid revealer onto the paper uncovering the message written there. So, this piece of jewellery is not only conceptual as it features an ephemeral moment, it is also a piece of keepsake jewellery a reminder of that moment in time and it becomes an empty vessel for the wearer to fill with their own moments.

After our first presentation I received comments about how to alter my design visually, because I forgot to explain that the heart shape I had drawn was for illustrative purposes, and it came out that I should not do the obvious heart because it is too typical, and twee and has been done a million times before and I should be more original and unique and try and push myself towards that. At first those comments really annoyed me because in my head I was, well a little disheartened because my idea wasn’t initiallyas awesome as I had thought it was, but mostly because Ive come to accept the fact that just because the idea isnt original to the world doesn’t mean its not original to me or any less exciting. But then that would take away the point of this module, because we are supposed to be learning to look out into the world so we are aware of other designs and therefore are able to come up with something unique. But if anything this module has just confirmed my notion that original thought is not possible. Well, that’s not true, original thought is possible for the individual but not for the world… that may be a little naïve of me to say so… but generally there isnt many more totally unique thoughts out there. Everything is somebody elses take on something that exists beofre it. And my next part of my design process is my take on Victorian hidden message symbolism, I wanted to use more in my design than just the heart so looked back in time and found more symbols I could use.

Something that also came up in the previous presentation was my idea of using the image of an anatomical heart. Not only is that more unique, but it decreases the image of love and becomes more about health and loss and the human condition. The piece becomes less something that a lover would buy and more something that anyone could buy.

This image really struck me and as soon as I saw it I knew it was what I wanted to use. It is a human heart stripped of the fat and muscle, with just the angel veins exposed and it led me to draw up my final design.

This drawing. So my plan is similar to the drawing before, it is still the same mechanisms but the aesthetics are different and more unique.

Here are a couple of images of my process.

And now comes the annoying, frustrating bit. I took a good few days sitting making this piece and by the time I came to put it all together I realised that it didn’t work. Inside all I could think was oh no and I just wanted to run away home and cry! Which I did! But then came back the next day and etched into it and shined it up, with the thought that if it wasn’t going to work it was at least going to be pretty.

So, I am treating this piece as more of a maquette than a final piece. I know where I have gone wrong, the hinges need to be longer and straighter and the doors would need to be made larger in order for them to fit together when cut in half, also the little clasp would need to be made the other way round! So between now and Christmas I will make this again and make it work. Oddly ive learnt more about myself and about my design process with this failure than if I had made it perfectly first time round. Part of me hates myself for messing up but the other part is happy that I know where my problems lie and that this was a good learning expereince for me.


I have made a little video illustrating it kind of working.

Thanks for listening and any comments would be epically appreciated!


I got pretty good feedback on my work. Although it hadn’t actually worked, my tutors and fellow jewellers seemed quite interested in the actual ideas behind my piece and that has made me a lot happier. I’ve, for the past few days, been sitting in my failure hole of self-pity because my piece didn’t work. It wasn’t until today that i realized that that didn’t actually matter. Not everyone gets everything done right the first time around and in the end the learning process is all that matters. I know what i need to do to make it work and hopefully i will have the time to make it again (i am going to make it again! i just need to find some of that spare time that keeps alluding me!).

What do you think of my piece?

Chloe out.

The Hidden Chamber: Part 5

My piece doesn’t work :( oh noes!

Okay, i’ll finish off telling you about the process and then i’ll talk about it!

Cutting out arrows, cutting out arrows, cutting out more arrows for my chain!

Had to decide whether i wanted detail in the feathers or not, i decided not. I like the detail but i think it destracts a little too much from the main locket, whereas the plain one just flows with the chain. After my decision i cleaned them up.

Making my hinge, i wanted to use curled wire instead of a tube to add a little more decorative detail

This is it hinged… you can already see where it kind of doesn’t work!

And this is it all opened out (i still need to scratch out the inside).


And here are some (not so amazing photos, i will take some more decent ones later) pictures of the finished piece:

Here is a little video of it (kind of) working…..


The little message says “No one is ever lost forever” i only had a thick paint-brush so it isn’t the best, but next time i will use a quill, this little lo-fi video is just a mocked up way of showing how it works.

Ooo and the lyric is from the wonderful new song “Lost” by Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra because i wanted to incorporate feelings of keeping and remembering something or someone who is no longer with you.


My locket mechanism have not quite worked, so instead of running into my room, throwing myself down on the bed, blasting depressing songs really loud and crying into my pillow like a teenage girl i have decided to call this my prototype and in that case it has been a learning experience. Which makes sense, because if i had had the time i would have made a mock up piece anyway to sort out any little problems that i might have had which has happened here.

It still looks pretty!

But now i know the little bits i need to alter to make a fully functioning piece. Between now and the Christmas holidays i will make a final final piece that WILL work!

The hinges will be extended and straightened, and will be a three or even four piece hinge to ensure it opens and closes fully. Also the inner clasp will actually work! I need to experiment with clasps to find out which one will be best for my piece. They are the main little changes i want to make, everything else i’m essentially happy with. I may also reconsider adding an internal lip, or perhaps little compartments for people to conceal things within….. but i’m not so sure about that yet!

Anyway, i’m more interested in what YOU think so please comment and let me know!

Tomorrow i’m presenting my work to our class so i’ll let cha know how that goes tomorrow :)

Chloe out.