An Adventure in Water Casting
by Susan LeGuyader
I felt like Alice in Wonderland as I started the journey into water casting. I've barely scratched the surface but I have had so much fun learning and creating with this wonderful technique.

The basics, dripping molten silver into water. The results are so much fun in the shape of little cups. The different shapes you get run the gamut of balls, cornflakes, cups and some pretty weird shapes. One of my goals with this experiment was seeing what caused the most consistent and reliable cup shapes, the prettiest and most usable shapes.
I got my materials ready. I wanted to see how different gauges of wire affected the size and shape of cups. I started with 12 gauge, 14 gauge and 16 gauge silver
Then decided to add 16 gauge brass, 16 gauge bronze and 16 gauge copper to the pile to see what happens
The two torches I used are a Smith Acetylene/Air torch and a Euro tool Torch Head with a butane canister. A small creme brulee-type torch will not work well for this project.
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Then I got my water ice cold with no ice chunks visible and used a big glass vase that I could fill and have more than 6" of cold water to drop silver into. I set the water vase on a metal stool that was comfortable height and I've also set up near my bench for safety. I have a fire extinguisher close by, my hair is tied back, I have safety glasses on and I'm wearing a mask. I also have windows open for cross breeze. I don't anticipate anything happening but I want to be prepared just in case. Cause what could go wrong with fire and molten silver and ice water???
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
My plan was simple, test each metal with both torches and see the results. I start off with the acetylene torch and lit it up. I use a pair of long nose pliers to handle the metal. These are not metalsmithing pliers but ones I picked up at the hardware store. With 12 gauge silver in hand, I started melting silver. I kept the end of the wire at least 6" from the top of the water, aimed the torch up, heating from the bottom.
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Below are the results:

1. 12 Gauge Sterling Silver Wire
a. Acetylene Torch
b. Butane Torch
2. 14 Gauge Sterling Silver Wire
a. Acetylene Torch
b. Butane Torch
3. 16 Gauge Sterling Silver Wire
a. Acetylene Torch
b. Butane Torch
4. 16 Gauge Bronze Wire
a. Acetylene Torch
5. 16 Gauge Brass Wire
a. Acetylene Torch
6. 16 Gauge Copper Wire
a. Acetylene Torch
The last photo, Photo 18, is all of the metals with their respective cups. Acetylene cups are on the top row and the butane cups are on the bottom row.

Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
Susan LeGuyader's An Adventure in Water Casting - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, water casting
My conclusions... The hotter the torch, the better the water cast cups, with more consistent shapes and pretty. The bigger gauge wire produces a more rounded and well-shaped cups, while the smaller 16-gauge wire made a cup with a pointy bottom. The butane torch took a lot longer to melt the wire, especially the bigger gauge wire and the cups were not uniform.

With the 16-gauge wire and the butane torch, I also ended up with cornflakes and weird shapes.

When the water warms up, the cups get a pointy at the bottom as well.

The other metals... brass, bronze and copper did NOT make cups at all. For the most part, they ended up as balls or misshapen balls. I think I will do more experimenting with those other metals to see if I can get some cups out of them. Maybe I need to have the melted metal closer to the water with deeper water. I can't wait to find out.

The cups made from water casting can be used in so many ways. What will you make?

Materials

14 Gauge Round Half Hard .925 Sterling Silver Wire
H8-14H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $7.83
  • Gold Club Price: $5.87
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12 Gauge Round Dead Soft .925 Sterling Silver Wire
H8-12D
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $12.49
  • Gold Club Price: $9.37
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16 Gauge Round Half Hard .925 Sterling Silver Wire
H8-16H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $5.03
  • Gold Club Price: $3.77
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Tools

Basic Soldering Kit
G15-4
  • G15-4
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $58.95
  • Gold Club Price: $44.21
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  • Category: General Education
  • Technique(s): Butane Torch Techniques