Lost wax casting is a well-known process in the jewelry industry, but Geralyn recently started using a less known type of wax with Japanese origins. Mitsuro-Hikime is unique because it must be warmed slowly with your hands to become malleable. After pulling and folding the wax into itself over and over, much like a taffy machine in the candy shoppe window, it forms unique striations. This wax and technique allow the goldsmith to create flowing sculptural curves with organic, linear texture.
Geralyn started working with Mitsuro-Hikime wax within the last several years. She loves the striations it creates and the bold, sculptural curves that can be formed with it. The wax is not the easiest to work with though. It is a magnet for dirt and lint while being pulled, twisted, and otherwise manipulated, and it becomes extremely brittle once it has hardened. Even so, this medium has so much potential, especially for an artist like Geralyn, whose designs already include the combination of lines and curves that Mitsuro-Hikime can create.
Mitsuro-Hikime roughly translates to honey (mitsu) wax (ro) drawing (hiki) texture (me). Working with this blended wax is an ancient art form, dating back more than 1,300 years in Japan. It is actually a combination of pine resin and wax and is not an easy medium to master.
Susan Zeiss has spent the necessary time to become a kind of Mitsuro-Hikime guru. She reverse-engineered the formula for this unique wax through experimentation and research. Her technical article in SNAG News describes how to work with the medium and also includes her recipe for the sculpting wax itself. Susan also describes this wax as taffy-like.
“The look of taffy pulling is mesmerizing,” she says, “watching the lines pull and turn is just mesmerizing.” She aims to work with this unusual and challenging wax more so that she can realize its potential in her own designs, and she is certainly on her way. Geralyn’s gold ring made with this ancient technique recently won Retailer’s Choice and Third Place for Gold Jewelry under $5,000 in the 2020 INSTORE Design Awards, so we can only imagine what other great pieces are to come.