Sand/Clay Casting – How I made a silver Acorn

Silver Acorn

I was introduced to sand/clay casting about 15 years ago when I watched a demonstration at a trade show and it’s taken me until now to have a go myself.

I bought a kit on eBay (Link at the end) a clay and flask then went onto good old You Tube to see how others were doing it, as my memory from 15 years ago wasn’t too clever. I love it when people are generous with their knowledge so I have decided to pass it forward too and share my experience.

I started by foraging for windfall acorns, not as easy as you may think as in this case size matters! And many come apart as they land so getting the correct nut and cup can be a challenge, however I found a cute little acorn still complete and chose this one to immortalise…

The first task is the grab all your equipment needed to hand and either a tray with a lip or a large baking tray so the sand doesn’t go everywhere. Then you’ll need to break up the sand/clay so there are no big lumps in it, I used a metal ruler…

Next you need to fill the bottom half of the flask, pushing the sand down hard as you go

To make sure that it’s compact it’s best to flatten it down with a hammer , then scrape the top with the ruler to make it smooth.

You’ll then need to use talcum powder, brush it gently over the top of the smooth area, this prevents the two parts sticking together and the acorn from sticking too.

Then you can press in the acorn halfway in the middle and leave it there. Then put the top part of the flask together.

Repeat the same process of filling this part of the flask as you did with the bottom part, again compressing it with the hammer so it’s compact.

Carefully separate the two halves and even more carefully remove the acorn.

The next stage is to prepare for the pouring of the silver, so I used a cocktail stick initially then a BBQ skewer to make a hole in the centre making sure it’s a clean hole and no scraps clogging it. Turn the flask over and with a Stanley knife create a pouring funnel. You will also need to make holes for the air to escape as the molten metal is poured in, I made six holes with a cocktail stick, then gently drew a line from the acorn to the holes to feed the airflow.

Top of flask

Now for the fun bit…melting the silver and pouring it into the hole, you have to make a decent hole to allow it to pour and also a reasonable height to gather some pressure, you will need more silver than the finished piece, I used approx the same weight again .

Then melt down the silver in a pouring crucible – I’m sure I don’t need to explain health and safety here, just take care if you’re a beginner and make sure you have the necessary equipment in place.

Once the silver has melted pour it carefully into the carved funnel and pray it works!

It may be hot so you might have to use gloves to separate the flask

And as you can see it worked! Yippee! I noticed that there was smoke coming out of the little holes as I poured which reiterates why you need to do them. Gently release the cast from the sand, the black sand can be discarded but the red can be reused.

This is how it looked as it came out from casting, the next stage is to cut off the sprue and file and clean it up, where the sprue was joined I had to slightly re texture it to match in and file the nut area smooth.

Then I soldered a jump ring and loop on to complete it as a pendant and sanded it down and polished it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and maybe it’s inspired you to have a go yourself? So many things can be cast just use your imagination! Happy casting! Nikki x

The link to the seller of the clay and flask on eBay-

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