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Elvenwork Forum

This forum has been a way to provide a public exchange of questions and answers for polymer clay sculptors. But, as I said in my final post, there comes a time when all things must end. That doesn't mean the forum used as an archive has nothing to offer. Indeed it is still loaded with questions and answers that remain relevant and which are searchable! For that reason, I'm keeping it available, though no new posts can be added. If after searching the forum your question isn't addressed, Join me on to ask it. As always, you'll find me there as Katherine Dewey. Hope to see you there. --  Katherine

Elvenwork Forum
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smoothing wax

Hi Katherine,
I just bought some castelene and either sculpting wax. I have sculpted with traditional wax before but tool marks and imperfections were okay for what I was doing. I want to really smooth out this wax after sculpting. I know citrus cleaners disolve the wax and that it can be frozen and sanded. Any other suggestions on how to get a flawless finish would be welcome.

Re: smoothing wax

This is Eric Sosa's method for a hard carving wax:
He warms it with a torch (his is a butane torch made by Master and has a heat setting, not just flame) and, depending on size, either sands(regular sanding paper will do) with heated 3M sanding pads (going from medium to fine and super fine). For the finishing sanding touch, he recommends #0000 steel wool. He then refine details with sharp tools and follows up with a soft, but firm brush (a natural filbert or bright) and odorless lighter fluid (I believe he uses Gulf charcoal lighter fluid). He then buffs with blue shop towels or paper towels and water.

Tim Bruckner, whose wax formula is a little softer, uses pure gum or steam distilled turpentine applied with 2 1/4" strips of cheap paper towels, cut in half and folded into triangles. Rub/polish, using a fine soft brush to remove the residue. He adds that solvents don't work well with wax that contains talc or a quanity of dry filler. For a very shinny surface, He puts it in the freezer for a little bit and then uses a soft, lint free cloth and cold water to buff it up.

Gary Oberman, who manufactures his own line of waxes (Willow Wax), likes a mix of 4 parts denatured alcohol and 1 part castor oil. Store in a glass or metal container and shake well.

I've an alcohol torch and it's great for heating tools, sanding pads, and, of course, wax. I've also used warm water to smooth the wax in the early
stages (I like working smooth on smooth) and alcohol in the later stages. I use my curing oven to keep my wax supply warm, but I'm more of a modeler and less of a carver or sculptor. The oven is a simply a cardboard box lined with foil ( a Banker's box is great for this). There's a round hole cut in the top. The hole is roughly 1 inch smaller in diameter than the clamp lamp that sits over the hole. I like a 60 watt bulb. On rare occasions, I heat the sculpt itself, but not for long.
Hope this helps,

Re: smoothing wax

I used to make teeth for a dental lab and they do them in wax first.....a little secret we used to use to smooth wax to a mirror surface was a nylon knee works wonders.

Re: smoothing wax

That technique and a bit of Vaseline, a tip learned from sculptor Clay Moore, works with Super Sculpey, too.