This past February, I took a five-week lost wax casting class at the Pioneer Craft House. After figuring out how best to make a small wax model of a female figure talisman-type thing, I learned how to cast it in metal.
The solid silver bits were weighed and put into a small ceramic bowl with a pouring spout at one end — the crucible. The crucible bowl was securely put into metal tong things, which would be used to pour the molten metal.
The instructor showed us the process. When she lit the propane torch for the first time with a ‘whooff’, I jumped. The tip of the hot blue flame was held and held to the metal. Held steady, not moving, until the edges of the silver castings began to glow. Then under the immense heat, the insides of the metal balls came out, burst through what looked like a glowing skin. The heat was steadily maintained and within some minutes, the skin had also melted and the once very hard silver had pooled into one large droplet of quivering, glowing semi-liquid. The crucible was also glowing hot, but did not melt. It held this strange ethereal substance, not changing form under the tremendous heat of the blow torch.
Quickly, the crucible and blow torch — still held steady on the molten metal — were taken to a cylindrical iron casing filled with a plaster-like material (investment), which seconds before, had been removed from a kiln. Buried inside that plaster (with a channel that went to the outside) had been the original wax figure, now evaporated into thin air from hours in the hot kiln. With the heat of the blow torch still on the molten metal, the crucible was tiled and out poured the hot red heavy liquid, disappearing down into the cylinder. It took only seconds for the metal to become solid again, now filling up the hole in the plaster where the wax used to be.
When it came time for me to hold the blow torch myself and melt my own metal, I was a little stressed out. One could be seriously hurt in this process! I watched as the metal began to glow and break apart under the renlentless blue flame.
“I have felt like this before,” I thought. “Exactly like this.”
Sometimes life puts the relentless flame of transformation on us. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves, consciously or not. Change, especially at a deep level, requires that we disintegrate for some time into a pool of quivering molten fire before we can be re-formed. The metal we are made of responds according to its make up. It pools and becomes willing to be poured relatively easily under the flame, or it does not melt so quickly or uniformly and so requires more heat.
These female figure-talismans will only be molten once (as far as I know). You and I, however, get to be melted down again and again as we mature and become ever more open-hearted and wise.
Know that in the hell of melt down, we are being made ready for something new. Suffer it as consciously possible, for something beautiful will come of it in the end.