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Sandcast Demonstration

Sandcasting is one of the original techniques the Southwest Native American Indians used to create their jewelry. They would take Mexican Pesos and American coins and melt them down to get silver. The technique shown in this demonstration uses commercial grade sandcasting sand , but this is the same technique handed down from generation to generation. The following procedure will take you through the steps that Navajo sandcaster, Alvin Thompson, uses to copy an existing pattern.

A. The object to be made is placed on a clean rigid surface so that the sand can be compacted around it.
B. One-half of a two-piece metal form is placed around the object to be copied.
C. Sand is placed into the form and packed firmly.
D. The object to be copied is now removed from the sand.
E. Sand is packed into the other half of the two-piece metal form. A channel in the sand is carved from the mouth of the form to the beginning of the mold. This is how the silver gets to the mold.
F. The two forms are placed together and a rubber strap made from a tire inner tube is wrapped tightly around both forms.
G. Using an acetylene torch and a ceramic crucible, Alvin melts the silver.
H. Alvin pours the melted silver down the channel into the form.
I. After the silver cools, the two forms are untied and taken apart and the new piece is removed.
J. With metal cutters, Alvin cuts off the silver from the channel.
K. The finished piece is filed to remove barbs and then buffed. Any findings necessary for the piece (pin, earrings, etc.) are attached.