Can I make it?

Close up of bench peg with a 2 ice cream charms side by side. Left one is clearly a rough first try, right one is a finished piece

What’s the order?

Wax carving (and jewellery making in general) is all about figuring out what the best order is for all the different steps in the making process. You first get a ring to the correct size before you shape the outside. You first shape the outside of a piece before you add all the details.

You know all the steps and in what order they go for pieces you make often. You don’t even have to think about it anymore! For any new piece you make you just have to find out what the steps are, and what the best order is to do them in!

Thinking exercise

Sometimes I look at objects and figure out how I would make it from wax. Not because I actually want to make it, but to train myself into thinking through all the steps involved in making a piece.

How would I make my Chemex coffee maker? In what order do I create the different shapes it’s made out of? What could I do to make a realistic texture on wax to represent a slice of bread? How do I texture it with crunchy peanut butter on top? (In case you’ve ever been curious about my breakfast order, this is it ;))

It’s not that I want to own a piece that looks like a Chemex, but it has an interesting shape.

Image of a chemex coffee maker

Definitely start from a cylinder. Then shape the rounded bottom part. But a rounded shape is more difficult to hold so the top funnel part first is probably better. Or start in the middle? By removing wax from there I have more space to create the other 2 shapes. Or does that make the risk of it breaking in half too big?

When I’ve thought through all the different ways it can be made, I decide on the best one. And that's it, thinking exercise done. Just thinking through all the steps it takes to carve something, and especially finding all the places it can go wrong and finding a way to work around those. Next time I want to carve something completely new I already have a good idea how to go about it, just by thinking through all these potential makes.

Try it!

Just try to make the piece however you think it should be done. What’s the worst that can happen?

It didn’t work: ok, this approach didn’t work. What are you going to do differently next time around? When you’re making you know when you’ve made a mistake. Or you realize that it can be done much easier if you swap the order around. Try a new approach and see if that works better!

The approach worked, but it doesn't look great: ok, is there a way to save it and make it look like you want it to? If that’s the case your piece just isn’t finished yet. If you think it’s beyond saving, try a different approach to get the look that you want!

It worked, but turns out I don’t like it: everything looks great in your imagination, but sometimes it just doesn’t translate to a piece of jewellery. Now you know! The idea is out of your head and you have more space for new ideas!


You don’t always need to know how you’re going to make a piece. You just have to start. The next steps will become clear while you’re making. And if they don’t, experiment! Try this, try that, try everything you can think of. Through experimentation you’ll find your next steps!

Experimentation is always a good idea! You learn so much and get all kinds of new ideas for other pieces. You can only get better and more confident through experimentation. By calling it experimentation you also take the pressure of yourself to produce a perfect piece straight away! Nobody is expecting you to make something absolutely perfect the first time you try it. Experiment and work out all the kinks, then make your perfect piece!

I can’t do it

YET! You can’t do it YET.

What do you need to learn first in order for this piece to come to life? Find a class to learn the skills and techniques needed for this! Ask another maker for some advice on how to approach it. Practice and experiment some more. You CAN make it! It’s just going to take a bit longer to get there!

Comment below and let me know if you're going to try a new and scary piece after reading this encouragement to you!