Metalsmithing Beyond Basics: Learn 3D Wax Carving with Hep Cat

3D technology takes wax carving to new heights

By Betsy Lehndorff

“Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty.”

I’m murmuring this to myself during a four-day figurative wax carving class with Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine. An internationally renowned wax carver, Kate also is a legendary instructor. I hope by the end of the session I will complete the figure of a cat I can cast in sterling silver through the lost-wax method. But I find myself floundering in my head, wondering what the heck I’m doing as I dig her wicked sharp wax carving tools into the wax in front of me. “Here kitty, kitty. Where are yooooou?”

ABOVE: This wax carving demo and a feature about how the author won the grant that paid for her workshop with Kate Wolf appear in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, March/April 2018.

Figurative wax carving is technically demanding. Although you can play around with it, the best way to learn is to invest in a class taught by someone of Kate’s caliber. So this isn’t a step-by-step story on how to create a project. But it is a story about where your creativity can take you when you braid old and new methods together.

metal jewelry making: Hep Cat 3D Wax Carving by Betsy Lehndorff,

Hep Cat 3D Wax Carving project by Betsy Lehndorff, from the March/April 2018 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

What You Need

wax carving


safety glasses, dust mask, Wolf trimming tool, rotary burs, flex shaft, drywall sanding sheets, soft pencil, hot wax pen, razor blade, 3D printer

BETSY LEHNDORFF has written for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010 and contributes weekly to Jewelry Making Daily. Attendance at Kate Wolf’s class was made possible by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, through Art in the Loft of Alpena.

During KATE WOLF’s meaty 37-year career, she has been head of the jewelry division of the Franklin Mint, and has worked for Disney, QVC, Lenox, Monet, L.L. Bean and other companies as a master modelmaker. She’s developed a collection of innovative wax carving tools along with a line of waxes manufactured to her specifications by Ferris. Among recognitions, the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America awarded her their Innovator’s Award for Wolf Wax and Wolf’s Precision Carving Tools. Generous and friendly, she has been teaching 25 years in her studio and around the country, and knows just about everybody in the business on a personal level. In September 2017, she participated in the Toolbox Initiative founded by Matthieu Cheminee and Tim McCreight, and helped deliver equipment to jewelers in Senegal. To learn more about her classes, go to

See more from this issue in the March/April 2018 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Lookbook!

Learn more about metalsmithing techniques like wax carving with these resources!


Post a Comment