How Elouise Makes jewellery is created – The lost wax casting process

Ever wondered how a lump of silver becomes a penguin pin? Here’s how I do it…

Every piece of Elouise Makes jewellery, from a pair of dainty fish studs to a sleek fox necklace is made using an ancient, traditional method called lost wax casting. (Unless it’s a bespoke piece, then it’s normally made from sheet metal, but more on that in my next blog post!)

Lost wax casting has been used for thousands of years to create fine metal jewellery with delicate details, which would otherwise be difficult to recreate. I love engaging in a process that’s been a part of jewellery making for so long, it connects me with the past, and lets me appreciate the depth of skill and history of my craft.

Each piece starts in my digital sketchbook

When I have an idea for a new piece, I start off by drawing it, digitally sketching it until I’m satisfied. When I’m happy with the drawing, I print it out and stick the design onto brass. Next, I pierce it out with a jeweller’s saw to make what’s known as the master. Then I clean the piece up, filing it smooth until I’m happy with the shape.

This stage is the most time-consuming, and often takes me a few days to get the shape right! I adore the slow nature of my craft. It’s a very pleasing antidote to the ‘fast fashion’ mindset we’re often used to today.

Printouts of my digital sketchbook, or master designs for elouise makes jewellery
Digital animal designs printed on paper
Masters of Elouise Makes Jewellery Designs for Wax Casting cut out in Brass
Hand-pierced brass animal ‘masters’

Making the mould

Next, I send the master to my casting company, Vipa Designs, who use the master to make a rubber mould, using a vulcanising press. The master is surrounded by layers of rubber before placing it into the vulcaniser to apply heat and pressure. This melts the rubber and makes a perfect mould of the original master. The rubber mould can then be cut open and the master can be removed.

Vulcanising Press I use to create Wax Casts of Elouies Makes Animal Inspired Jewellery
Vulcanising Press
perfect Wax mould of the original master
Master & Rubber Mould(s) (Peach P. Pattanajakra – @peach612)

The rubber moulds are then injected with wax to create an identical copy of the original master. They’re then added to a wax tree (a central column with many wax models coming off), ready for investing and casting.

Wax Injector
Wax Tree, a central column with many wax models for lost wax casting method
Adding wax models to a wax tree
Finished wax tree before being placed in a casting can
Wax Tree placed into a kiln to harden the plaster and melt the wax away (lost wax method), leaving cavities in the shape of the master.
‘Burning Out’ wax in the kiln

The can with the hardened mould inside is ready to be placed inside the centrifugal casting machine, and recycled silver grain is poured into the mould to melt into the cavities in the plaster.

Centrifugal Casting Machine
Centrifugal Casting Machine
Recycled silver grain is poured into the mold in the centrifugal casting machine to melt into the cavities in the plaster.
Silver grain being poured into the plaster mold in the casting can

Once the metal has cooled and solidified, the can is removed from the machine and quenched in water. The plaster is washed out, leaving the solid silver tree. The casts are cut off the tree and then sent to me.

Once the metal has cooled and solidified, the can is removed from the machine and quenched in water. The plaster is washed out, leaving the solid silver tree. The casts are cut off the tree and then sent to me.
Silver tree of Elouise Makes animal casts
solid silver casts made using the lost wax casting method

Recycled silver Squirrel, Hare, & Wren Casts

Finishing the casting process

After I have received the casts from VIPA Designs, I get to work at my jewellery bench, pierce off the sprues with a jeweller’s saw, and file the edges until smooth.

I then use a blow torch to solder on the correct findings e.g. jump rings and chain for a necklace, or earring hooks for earrings. Next, I clean the soldered piece using safe, organic citric acid and then polish it in a barrel polisher, to make it beautifully shiny.

After all this, I place your piece of jewellery in an Elouise Makes box, ready to be posted to you in my ethical, earth-friendly packaging.

Filing off sprues using my jeweller’s bench peg
Filing off sprues on my jeweller’s bench peg
Soldering a jump ring to make a kestrel necklace
Soldering a jump ring to make a kestrel necklace
Recycled Silver Whippet necklace in Elouise Makes box
Recycled Silver Whippet necklace in Elouise Makes box

Everything from my postage boxes to my postage stickers is either 100% biodegradable or fully recyclable. You can read more here about how I keep my business both ethical and sustainable.

Making a bespoke piece

Bespoke pieces for commission are made the same way, except this time I’m not making a master, as it’s a one of a kind piece, specially designed for you. I can work directly from photos of your beloved pet, or your chosen design to create the perfect silhouette, which I use to make into your unique jewellery.

As you can imagine, this process takes much longer than working from a cast piece since I’m starting from scratch each time.

You can also choose to have your piece made from your own silver, for example a piece of jewellery that holds emotional value to you but is broken, or just not your style. This process is very labour intensive and time consuming but if the metal is sentimental then it’s worth it!

An 18ct gold necklace chain on a set of weighing scales
graficarbo electric furnace melting gold and silver for bespoke jewellery
A Lump of Gold ready to be used to make your bespoke jewellery
Quality control and cutting new bespoke designs for your bespoke gold jewellery

Melting down sentimental gold to make gold sheet for a special commission.

Did you know how jewellery is made?

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my process. I love sharing my craft with others and I feel that knowing how your piece of jewellery is made, being able to follow each step in its journey, gives you a stronger connection to it and makes it even more special.

Shop the range, or order bespoke

If you’d like your own fox cufflinks or blue whale necklace you can shop the full range of animal inspired jewellery here – or see some of my best sellers.

Order a bespoke piece

If you’d like to order something completely unique, to commemorate a beloved companion, or mark a special occasion, head to my bespoke enquiry form – or if your request is a little more complex, then please…

Get in touch


Thanks for reading…

Here’s a few things you might like to check out:

My ethical policy—This tells you everything you need to know about how I make my jewellery, my packaging, what makes me different in the jewellery industry and my overall ethos

About me—Hi! It’s nice to meet you. Find out about me, Rosie, and how and why I started Elouise Makes

Shop the collection—Looking for something specific, or just want to browse? You’ll find it all here

Caring for your silver jewellery—Learn how to keep your animal friends looking their best

My shipping policy—OK, this isn’t exactly the most exciting reading material, but if you order from me you need to feel secure that your piece will make its way to you safely!

Find me on Instagram—Follow me on Insta for lush pictures of my recycled silver animal jewellery, and fun tidbits about the creatures I create

The best way to hear from me is to sign up to my newsletter for more news and special offers. I only send one per month so there’s nothing spammy and it’s the best way to keep in touch!

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