Reigning Mad Skills

These are some oldies, but goodies.  Last year the studio was tapped to create some prop pieces for the TV show Reign. Below you can see the process of creating pieces that are emblems for Mary, Queen of Scots personal bible. The design was sourced from films stills to recreate the elements of the prop.  The emblems were later attached to a hand bound book by a bookbinder.

Working from a blurry photo still, I first
sketched the pieces out and did a transfer on the wax before cutting out
the shape.  You can see in the photo the drawing/scratch marks that
were my guide for sawing the shapes out. I like to think of piercing
work as drawing with my saw ;o)

To prevent the wax from breaking as I was carving the details I glued

the pieces down onto sections of scrap wood.  There are few things more

heartbreaking than when you are almost finished adding detail and it breaks.

With the wax firmly glued in place as I was working all the pieces stayed intact (success!)  

To remove the pieces from their wood bases I simply soaked them in water,

here you can see all five designs.

The show needed to have replicas of the props, which meant making multiples.

I made molds directly from the wax carvings to duplicate the designs.

Here are the wax duplicates after I attached sprues to each. There

needed to be enough to make two book covers with the emblems. The

designs in the middle and bottom right appear twice on the cover, so it

meant making four (you can see I made extra in case the castings didn’t work).  

Casting these pieces was an ORDEAL.  Between this and the last

picture I made the duplicates into a casting tree (which can be seen

just left of my saw); I made three separate trees.  The metal I used

was bronze… as I was melting the metal in a crucible it started to

seize and just would not get molten. My crucible turned into a dirty

mess and after standing and heating the first batch of metal with a

torch for almost 15 minutes I stopped what I was doing, took a break

and decided to try changing my normal casting process. I altered

what I normally do when melting metal and was eventually able to

cast the three groupings of pieces.

Here you can see that all the pieces cast well, I even have the

extras that worked on the left.  I filed and polished them up before

eventually gold plating them. 

Here are the final pieces with antique looking gold plating. Duo-tang-like

tabs were added to the back so that they could easily be attached to

the book props as the emblems on Mary, Queen of Scots personal bible.