Fancy Shmancy Diamond Earrings

25 Jun

Earrings!  Let’s talk about these, shall we? We’re going to learn, and learning is FUN!

Diamond and 14k gold earrings, cuttlefish bone cast.

Diamond and 14k gold earrings, cuttlefish bone cast.

I cast these earrings using cuttlefish bones.

“But Katie,” you might say, “However did you get the cuttlefish to hold still and help you make these lovely earrings?”

You crazy kids, the cuttlefish were DEAD!  They had ceased to be; they were no more.  They were EX-CUTTLEFISH, so don’t be daft.

Cuttlefish are in the same family as octopi and squid. Unlike octopi and squid, the cuttlefish possess a soft, porous internal structure which helps regulate their buoyancy: a cuttlefish bone or cuttlebone.  Cuttlefish bones often wash up on beaches, and are also harvested when cuttlefish are caught for their meat.

These bones have been used as a tool by metalsmiths for thousands of years;we saw them in half, carve them to make molds, and pour molten metal into them. The cooled metal retains the texture of the cuttlefish bone, which looks a bit like wood grain.  That texture can be played up or down, and for these earrings I played it up.

And because diamonds can take the heat of molten gold, I cast these champagne diamonds in place.  Stuck them right into the cavity I had created, and doused them with gold.

TBI and hand forging don’t go well together, and so I experimented with casting while Riley was sick.  The cuttlefish bone technique is a keeper.

Hey!  Here are some pictures of Matt using cuttlefish bone to cast a piece of silver.  He forged a spoon from this piece.

Carved cuttlefish bone

Carved cuttlefish bone

Two halves have been bound together with wire, and molten silver has been poured into the cavity.  Matt is now removing the binding wire.

Two halves have been bound together with wire, and molten silver has been poured into the cavity. Matt is now removing the binding wire.

Silver ingot and burned out cuttlefish bone mold.

Silver ingot and burned out cuttlefish bone mold.

Pretty cool, huh?  I think so.

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5 Responses to “Fancy Shmancy Diamond Earrings”

  1. Kylie June 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    I’m just about to try my first cuttlefish casting project. I want to make just a little pair of silver studs. Can you please advise whether I can carve the two round disks into the one piece of cuttlefish, side by side & if so, do I have to make a channel between them for the silver to flow from one to the other? Or do I have to do the whole process twice?
    I’m not sure whether to make a funnel & pour from the top of the two pieces of cuttlefish tied together, or lie them flat & drill a hole through the hard side of the bone, above the carving? Would appreciate you’re advice if you’re willing to share.
    Thanks, kylie

    • vakadesign October 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Hi Kylie!

      I’m probably too late with your answer, but I’ll give you one in case you haven’t gotten your casting to work. Two impressions connected by a channel will probably not work, for many different metallurgic reasons. What will work BETTER is this: make two separate impressions, each with venting and a sprue channel. The two sprue channels should angle in to become one wider sprue. Carve a funnel in the top (two halves bound together). Recap from top down: Funnel, pencil-sized sprue, pencil-sized sprue divided into two smaller sprues (make them short!), two separate impressions with venting. What will work BEST is to do them as two separate pieces! If you have any other process questions, feel free to email me at Katie@vakadesign.com. You’ll get an answer much sooner! Happy casting!

  2. Crystal M. Trulove June 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Ha! Nice parrot reference!

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