For a material exploration project, I was assigned wax. We were to apply different processes to it, and settle on one to further explore; I chose to cast it in water, which yielded surprising results.
The idea of casting wax in water was inspired by a childhood practice of dripping candle wax into water, something we would do for fun when the power was cut. This produces little wax discs whose undersides reveal shiny wax droplets fused together.
With my initial experiments, I got a very wide range of results, with drastic differences, but didn't yet know what was causing them. (above: a very ragged, curly mass, versus a smooth, fluid-y form, in the same batch)
The "curly" result was caused by too-hot wax; the two bottom pieces were both poured when the wax had begun to cool, but the one on the right was poured from a height, and the other was poured close to the surface (and hence has a gentler form).
After getting a little more intimate with the process, I began to experiment with a "slip-casting" technique: the wax cools upon contact with water, but stays hot for a while in the center.
Taking advantage of this, I was able to produce hollow forms by emptying out the hot
wax after the initial "shell" had hardened.
Thanks to the magic of lost-wax casting, I was able to get a few of my experiments cast in metal. (The wax version of this piece is in the photo right before this one.)
The weight of the metal allows these forms to become awkward paperweights, but otherwise, they can just be decorative objects.
(This particular brass "snail", for example, now lives under my AC unit as part of this "sculpture".)