Just start!

Close up of bench peg with a saw, file and slice of blue wax

Start simple

Wax carving can be as complicated or as easy as you want it to be. So why would you start with complicated? Start with easy! The first thing you made in metal was a saw pierced pendant, maybe a simple ring? You didn’t start with a full pave set eternity ring. That’s something you work your way up to!

Same goes for wax carving. You don’t start by carving a life like, full of small details, perfectly proportioned peacock on your first try. That’s something you work your way up to! Start with a simple ring. Or a rough first draft of a peacock.

Carve those simple pieces first. Learn how you can shape wax. And how you can’t. Before you know it you can carve that peacock!

Use what you have

If you already make jewellery in metal, you have all the tools you need to start carving. Use them!

Jewellery bench with a jumble if tools on top. Saw files, tools for marking, melting, scales and a small piece of blue wax ring tube

There’s no need to buy a completely new set of tools to try out wax carving. What if you don’t like it? Just use the tools you have at first. Once you know you like carving and want to continue with it you can buy those new tools!

Want to get more precision with carving? Get yourself a set of carving tools! Want to explore building up instead of carving away? A wax heating pen is the way to go! Want to free up your hands while you carve rings? A ring mandrel stand might be what you’re looking for! Think it takes too long to pierce through ring tubes and blocks of wax? Check out a mitre box with saw!

You don’t know which tools are useful to you when you haven’t started carving yet. Don’t just buy all the tools and hope for the best. Carve with the tools you do have and find out what tools you need to upgrade. It’s going to be different for everyone!

Tools are so personal to every maker. You need the ones that fit your making style. Just because I think my dental cement spatula is THE best carving tool in existence doesn’t mean you will feel the same way about it. Your best carving tool might be a set of wax burrs! Carve with the tools you have. Find out what you like to improve or explore more and get the tools for that.

And if you’ve never made jewellery before and have no tools yet? A saw and a file are a good place to start! You can also read this blog post with my tool recommendations.

Cast your pieces

The best way to improve your carving? Cast your first pieces!

I can tell you wax is deceptively light. That you should weigh your piece and multiply by 11 to calculate the weight it will have in silver. That maybe you should remove some more wax from your piece. And you can do it, you can understand it. But you won’t KNOW IT until you get your first casting back and think ‘wow, that’s heavier than I thought.’

You need that first casting to see and feel how a light and airy piece of wax transforms into a solid piece of metal. No amount of advice can truly prepare you for that first casting!

Casting your first pieces is more important than getting all the fancy tools at first.

Close up of bench peg with a jumble of silver castings on top

The tools aren’t going to teach you that maybe you should make your pieces lighter. That you should take more time removing surface imperfections in wax because they really do show up in your casting. That you’ll regret thinking ‘I will do that when I get the casting back’. Your first castings are going to teach you that!

Just cast those first pieces, even if they're not perfect. You'll learn so much from it!


Why stress about the right way to carve when you can just try out different things and find out what you like?

Experimentation is so important when you’re trying something new! How else are you going to know what you like and what you want to learn? Do you like melting or carving? A smooth surface or a textured surface? What kind of texture do you like? Chunky pieces or dainty? Perfectly finished or rough around the edges? Straight lines or curves? Symmetrical or irregular?

Close up of 3 small pieces of blue wax with different surface textures on top

Once you’ve experimented and got a feel for the kind of things you want to make you can learn how to make them! I can’t teach you how to file a 90° corner when you’re not interested. It’s extremely boring, tedious, and time consuming. I CAN teach you how to file a 90° corner when you want to make a perfectly rectangular piece and you realize that it needs 90° corners. It’s still boring, tedious, and time consuming. But now you want to learn it and suddenly it’s worth it!

Don’t start out weighed down by all the new things you HAVE to learn. Just carve some wax. See what comes natural to you and where it takes you. There’s always time later to learn the things you WANT to learn! And when you want to learn it doesn’t feel like a chore. It feels like fun. And that’s what wax carving is and should be: FUN.

If you're ready to learn check out the available classes!

Comment below and let me know if you're going to try wax carving after reading this encouragement to you!