For my sister’s birthday, I never know what to get her so decided that experiences would be the most fun. Neither of us drink so activities such as wine-tasting are out. But we both like to make things and do yoga! As well as a yoga handstand class, I booked us in for a lost wax carving evening at Posh Totty down Camden Passage. It’s something I looked at us doing about a year ago, but at that point, I would have had to take my youngest along and they advised us that it wasn’t suitable for babies, due to potential dust inhalation.
Trying to get away from little ones is always a bit of a mission, so it’s no surprise I was running through their doors at 7.03pm, with everyone else all seated and ready to go. There were six of us in their shop around an old wooden table. Prosecco was handed out (elderflower and water for us) and a placemat with information and tools was at each place. It was a little like a dinner setting.
There was one person who was running it, and she was supported by two of her colleagues, who I think had just started working there in the shop. The shop is very much a shop – they don’t do much of the crafting there, although some hand-stamping can be done. Their main studio is in Brighton which is where all the ‘making’ is done. To start, we were given an introduction into the techniques and tools we could use to shape our piece; each of us were to make a charm or pendant which could be attached to a bracelet or necklace. In front of us, we had a small piece of wax to practise on – either a long rectangle, a square or a circle. I had imagined making a larger piece so it was a bit of a shock to have to re-think what I was going to make. To be honest, I’d come with some vague ideas – it’s so hard to know what to make. I wanted to make something meaningful, ideally with the kids’ names on as Baby H had snapped the chain on my precious necklace with their names on. However, I couldn’t think of anything so thought I’d either make a toucan or a flamingo. We also had the option to coat our jewellery in rose gold or yellow gold, and there were also a variety of finishes we could add. Along with jewels!
We also got to take a look at some of the pieces which others had made and left behind (who does that?!) and they were pretty impressive. However, we were assured that things look a lot better once cast in silver. Rosie decided to go for a hexagon with a cryptic code inside, others went for a heart, a rose, a crescent… I panicked, realised my piece of wax wasn’t big enough for any of the animals I wanted to make and as I was despairing, was inspired by thin pink wax which could be used as wings… I would make a fly! Not your usual choice, but my nickname at school was fly (from my surname, Flynn) and I once registered a company called But What If You Fly, so I thought it would do.
Turns out, flies are hard to make from wax. Especially when you’ve got two hours to do it in. I drew out my basic fly body shape and started with the rectangular piece of wax. Wax is an interesting material to work with – it doesn’t yield easily, but at the same time, apply too much pressure and it snaps! Instead of using the sturdy tweezers we were recommended to use to hold it still, I just held it as it kept slipping from the tweezers and I could be more precise that way. For the body, I used the scalpel, half circle file, a small square file and a flat file. The wings were cut out and I found I could shape these using my fingers. To stick them on, the heat gun came into play! I experimented with heating the wings to the body and using other bits of wax too. By this point, I had twenty minutes left, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to stop just there. My fly needed legs! So I melted fragments of wax and carefully stuck them on. Goodness knows if this would work…
Like British Bake Off, things got a little haphazard towards the end, but wonky legs or not, my fly was just about finished.
I placed him into a box to keep him safe (please survive the journey to be cast!) and then we all drew a picture of our creations and filled in our details so Posh Totty would know whose piece was whose. I chose to pay £20 extra to plate mine in yellow gold and it’ll be presented on a standard silver chain.
It’ll take about 4-6 weeks to be cast so watch this space to find out how it turned out!