I once asked a colleague to cast some small plastic soldiers for me. The soldiers came out brilliantly, but equally fascinating was the elaborate network of sprues he had constructed to make sure the molten silver fed into every little nook and cranny of the mould. Once removed, the waste sprue sat on my desk for over a year. Eventually I decided to experiment with wax wire as a means of generating form in itself, aiming towards a series of ‘fantasy sprues’. The series of models remains unfinished (I made over 50 models, of which only one was eventually cast in silver; see image 43) but they paved the way for a collection of future pieces entitled Fantasy Sprues and Patterns of Unnecessary Complexity.
Meanwhile, a pile of wax off-cuts accumulated on my bench. Just as the first sprue had been a by-product of the production of another object, I realised that my equivalent lay in the scrap wax and not in the structures I was trying to make. The scrap wax was therefore cast as a series of clusters, by picking up small handfuls and fabricating whatever structure they happened to form. The colleague who produced the initial sprue is an extremely skilled and respected jeweller in his own right, and he has no idea about any of this.
Original silver sprue
An attempt to copy original sprue
With a pin
Trying to make exact copies
Abandoning exact copies
Beginning of awkward patterns
Structure died of natural causes
Cut to test linked components
One piece chain cast: cut spacer bars to release
This one would work
This scrap pile was too contrived
This scrap pile was too neat
This scrap pile was just right