Dan Grandi returns to Metalwerx on Feb. 17 to teach mold making and casting. It’s a very busy time for Dan, who is the midst of making major changes to his company, Racecar Jewelry Company, Inc.
The expansion plans include moving from Cranston, RI, to a new 10,000 square foot facility in Pawtucket, RI. The new factory provides room for additional machinery for the many services already offered by Racecar, which include casting, mold making, polishing, vibratory finishing, soldering, laser welding, CAD/CAM modeling, and more. The factory will be fully operational within two months.
Most important, he says, “This factory is green as green can be when it comes to a casting and production facility. We use no pollutants, nothing goes down the drain, and we have come up with uses for material that usually gets tossed.” For ten years, Dan has employed a method he developed to re-use rubber scrap (for other than jewelry-making) and to re-use plaster from casting for building purposes.
“We are a Green Business Bureau member,” Dan says. “All our silver is ‘green’, mined in the US or Canada, and refined from scraps on the open market. We also buy our silver and gold from a refiner in Rhode Island.”
Racecar has recently added a number of new metals, including Alpha Metal, an alloy similar to stainless steel that can be worn against the skin, and polishes to a bright, chrome-like finish. It’s often used in the school and military ring industry, costs lie between that of silver and bronze, and it can be used for most jewelry purposes. Additionally, the company offers Pink Silver, a Japanese alloy that is similar to Shibuichi, and Deox Sterling and Sterillium, which both contain germanium and are marked as .925 silver.
Within a year, Grandi expects to add an additional service, electroforming production in silver, copper and eventually, gold. But what he’s really excited about is a new direction for Racecar, offering studio space at the factory for jewelry designers.
With almost 40 years in the industry, Dan is keenly aware of the problems that may beset jewelry designers. To get a line started, he says, designers often have to turn to numerous sources, from casters to polishers, stone setters, and more.
“It’s a lot of running around, to get a line started,” he says, especially if some of the castings are rejected and the process has to start all over. Many designers who rely on overseas production have come to realize they run into issues of quality control, unfriendly return policies, and time lags.
“I am trying to bring the jewelry market back to the United States. People have contacted me saying they want it done in America, including Chinese manufacturers who want to have it done here,” he says.
The studios to be rented will be located on the second floor of the new facility. Tenants will have immediate access to Racecar’s machinery and staff. “The idea is to help the upcoming designer who wants to get out there and do things, create a line, produce it, and have control at the factory they work with,” he says.
With parking for 30 cars, a completely fenced in factory, 24-hour video camera security, and location in a “nice neighborhood,” Dan feels the studio rental option will appeal greatly to jewelry designers who already know how to their own marketing.
“It’ll be like having your own factory,” he says.” Upstairs for design work, customers, and marketing and sales. They can come downstairs and get costs and pricing and get their models made.”
Dan’s business originated in 1998 from a small 2-person operation out of his home studio. But for more than a decade before that, while a general manager at a large jewelry company, he designed and made thousands of models for the industry. He came across so many people who wanted to design their own products, but have someone else make it for them, that he felt the time was right to offer a full-service casting agency.
“The course I’m teaching at Metalwerx will allow people to understand what works, and what doesn’t,” he says. Clients sometimes send him models of things that don’t work; for example, the piece may have very thin walls—because “they’re not model makers.” They may have learned how to make jewelry, he says, but learning what works best for the casting procedure sometimes involves modifications to make it viable.
There is still space available in the three-day Mold making and Casting Workshop. Dan asks that participants bring metal pieces they have made for vulcanized molding, as well as wax models, tree branches, and organic and plastic objects for use as discussion material to develop the best strategies for casting them in metal.
Students will make two molds during class, learn to cut open and vent the molds, sprue and invest models, and on the final day, cast the objects in Deox sterling silver or bronze.
For a full workshop description and material and tool information, please visit http://www.metalwerx.com/workshop/67 . You may register online or call 718-891-3854.
–by Yleana Martinez
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