Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jewelry Casting and the Creator - Part Two

The Process
(Portions of the following paragraph will be highlighted throughout this series and you may want to refer back to it over the next posting weeks)

In the process of centrifugal casting, the old metal junk is placed into the crucible and melted with fire into a liquid state so that there is nothing left of its’ previous form, and the impurities begin to surface from the liquid metal. At this point all the impurities are removed with a pure quartz rod, or incinerated by the fire. In this liquid state the metal will actually follow the flame around the crucible as the impurities are being removed. When the impurities are gone and while the metal is still liquid, it takes on a “mirror finish”, indicating that it is time to activate the centrifugal casting machine to move the liquid metal into the new form (the cavity inside the plaster flask) which is waiting at the open end of the crucible. When the centrifugal casting machine is activated, the liquid metal moves instantly into the waiting plaster flask (which has been removed from the kiln and placed into the centrifuge) containing the new form for the metal. When the metal is cooled, the flask is then submerged into water (called quenching) and the plaster is broken away to reveal the new creation. The new creation is then separated from the “button”, which is all of the leftover metal from the entry point into the plaster flask. Then the finishing and polishing process begins, which can involve many steps including grinding, sanding, and polishing. These steps take the new creation to its’ final stage of beauty, an appearance that observers will appreciate and find pleasing. This is also the point where jewels and gems can be set to further enhance the new creations beauty.

“In the process of centrifugal casting, the old metal junk is placed into the crucible and melted with fire into a liquid state so that there is nothing left of its’ previous form, and the impurities begin to surface from the liquid metal”.
This process begins only after a decision is made that the old junk needs to be made new again. My customers believe in me and my ability to do what I tell them I can do with all their broken-down jewelry. This is much like our decision to follow Jesus Christ as our Savior. We believe in Jesus Christ and His ability to make us new again (Rev 21:5), and have Faith that He is who He says (Jhn 14:6-9) and can do what He says He can do (Jhn 3:16-18).

“The old metal junk is placed into the crucible and melted with fire into a liquid state so that there is nothing left of its’ previous form, and the impurities begin to surface from the liquid metal. It is at this point that all the impurities are removed with a pure quartz rod, or incinerated by the fire.”
Our old life and our old ways, the “old metal junk” of our lives gets placed into the crucible to be made ready for the new creation. This also makes me think of how we come under conviction of our sin. The purification process begins. More often in life than not, this process is likened to “going through the fire”, a refiners fire (
Mal 3:2-3). This “fire” at first can seem painful because we are faced with looking at our sin and/or don’t want to let go of some things in our lives. Sometimes it’s things that we have put in front of our relationship with Jesus, and sometimes it’s just plain old SIN. But the refiners’ fire brings all the impurities to the surface so that they can be removed.

Illustrations of the 'lost wax' jewelry casting process


Friday, March 20, 2009

Jewelry Casting and the Creator - Part One

An Introduction

Almost on a daily basis in my work at The Karat Patch in Big Spring, Texas people bring in old broken-down jewelry and want me to create a new piece of jewelry out of it. This usually involves making a sketch, reproducing that sketch in a wax model, taking all that broken-down jewelry apart, setting up the wax model in a plaster (called investment) flask in preparation for casting, placing the wax model plaster flask into the kiln for burn-out (the wax model is burned away in this step, hence the name “lost wax process” of casting), melting down the old gold (or other metal) in a crucible and centrifugally casting it into the plaster flask form where the wax model has been burned out, breaking the hardened casting out of the plaster flask, finishing and polishing the new piece, setting the stones, more polishing and cleaning and finally, delivery to the customer of a brand new product. As you can see it can be quite a process.

Nearly every time I begin this process, and every time I get to the casting portion (which will be the focus of this series), I think about how Jesus can change people. I think about how God can use things going on around us to help make us into better people.

Just as a customer comes to me to make a new piece of jewelry out of their broken-down junk, we can come to Jesus to make a new person out of a broken-down person.

Sometimes when people bring in their broken–down junk for me to make something new, it’s hard to see what can be done with all of it to make it look beautiful. It’s hard to see its’ full potential. But Jesus can look at every person and see them at their full potential and at their very finest.

When I’m sketching for a potential client, and working out what the finished product might look like, there are a lot of unknowns and particulars that sometimes reveal themselves only at the very end of the job. And sometimes the job turns out a little differently than first thought.

God on the other hand knows exactly what a person is going to look like when He gets done with them…..they’re going to look like Jesus.

I’ve been told that Rev. Billy Graham’s wife once said that she wanted her gravestone to read: “Thank you for your patience……construction now complete. “

The process of creating a new piece of jewelry from old can be quite involved, and so can the process of changing from the old person to the new. I’ll write a bit more on this as the series continues. I believe as this series about jewelry casting unfolds you will be able to see the similarities in the two processes just as I do when I start making something new from something old.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lone Star Cut Gems and the Star out of Jacob


Texas House Concurrent Resolution No. 97, 65th Legislature, Regular Session (1977) named the “LONE STAR CUT” as the official gemstone cut of the State of Texas. And the official gem of the State of Texas is Texas Blue Topaz.

At our store, The Karat Patch in Big Spring, Texas we carry beautiful blue topaz, white topaz, and amethyst with the lone star cut. They capture the attention of anyone who even gets close to them. People just can’t believe what they are seeing is actually part of the faceting of the stone and not just some design that has been laser-cut into it. We get these special stones from a lapidary in Austin, Texas and we build a special 5-prong setting for them in yellow or white gold.
We started carrying the lone star cut about 15 years ago and have sold a ton of them to very proud Texans, and even to residents of other states who are formerly from our Great State. They are quite beautiful and unique with a very tiny star in the very bottom of the stone, then outlined with another star. The special 5-prong setting that we build for the stone has the prongs placed just outside the points of the star and really help to accentuate the star shape.
I can never start to put these pieces together without thinking of that time in Bethlehem, and the birth of our Savior.


When I see the star it reminds me of the Old Testament scripture in which Jesus is described as a star. Numbers 24:17 reads (Num 24:17 NIV): I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.


In the New Testament Matthew 2:2 ( Mat 2:2 ) tells of the wise men seeing “his star in the east.” Luke 1: 31-33 ( Luk 1:31 ) tells the account of Jesus receiving His name and His authority over the house of Jacob. II Peter 1:19 ( 2Pe 1:19 ) tells of the morning star and Revelation 22:16 (Rev 22:16 ) Jesus proclaims that He IS “the bright Morning Star”.

I encourage you to look-up these verses and read the Words of God for yourself. That’s why I haven’t just printed them all here.

We keep the Lone Star Cut in Blue Topaz, White Topaz, and Amethyst.

Blue – the color of the waters of baptism and new life in Jesus Christ
White – the color of purity and the cleansing from sin by Jesus Christ
Purple – the color of royalty and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jewelry, Gems, and Jesus

And away we go !!

This blog is being created as a place where people can come to learn a little bit more about jewelry and gems and how (over the past 26 years) I have seen Jesus in my work as a retail jewelry designer, jewelry manufacturer and jewelry repairman. It is my hope that as you read through the coming posts that it will inspire you to look for Jesus in the work that you do. Because I believe that if you look for Jesus you will find Him.....even at work !

Exactly what I will be talking about will become more apparent as you read but I want to give you a little bit of information. Sometimes when I am executing a certain procedure, viewing a certain gem or discover one of it's properties, or hear of some news in the jewelry industry, etc......I think about how they compare to certain ways, characteristics, or the Good News of Jesus. I hope you'll find these observations interesting and enlightening.

So here's the deal...

I would ask just one thing of you and that is this: Please forgive the inevitable seemingly shameless plugs for The Karat Patch in Big Spring, Texas. It is after all the family owned and operated business where I work and experience the things I will be writing about. I'll repay you by giving you really good knowledge about jewelry, gems and precious metals, and hopefully the inspiration to find Jesus in it all.


Lone Star Cut gems and the Star out of Jacob