Here are the latest pyramids right on the casting tree before polishing.
It’s amazing how adding some texture to the surface totally elimninates the casting aberrations caused by flat (or nearly) flat surfaces when working with hot metal. This version doesn’t feel quite as accurate to me as the really shallow scratches, but unfortunately there is basically no way to reproduce those at scale other than doing it by hand (which takes like 30 minutes per pyramid). I think think this is an acceptable compromise to help keep the price from getting too crazy. But I would like to hear what other people think. The only other option I can think of is trying to make another master with slightly shallower scratches and hope that the texture still comes through on the other side of the mold without getting erased by the surface aberration issues.
This also matches in general technique the IDIC that has been kept in the Roddenberry family in their archives and that is thought to have been made around the same time as the original, probably by the same jeweler. This one has a more traditional (and, frankly, more professional looking) florentining pattern, which is also how the Star Trek magazine article describes the one Gene made for Leonard.
The surface finish issues we’ve been dealing probably also explain why so many replicas in the past tend to put the texture inaccurately on everything.
The reason is simply that textured surfaces come out much better when doing metal casting. Whenever you try to cast something in metal that has a large flat surface area, you get issues like this:
The only way to fix these is with very intense buffing, which can tend to deform a thin model like the circle on the IDIC, or by doing an expensive heavy brass plating later before moving on to your final finish plate. The latter is what we’re having to do on the IDIC circle.
Anyway, here also is a pic of the circles on their tree:
For those curious about the process, the master (which in jewelry casting parlance is the “model”) is used to make rubber molds. Wax is poured into the rubber molds to make multiple sacrificial wax positives. These are then attached by hand to a tree. Investment is poured around them and allowed to dry. The wax is then burnt out. The metal is poured in. The investment is broken and out comes the casting. These are then removed by hand, finished by hand, welded together, etc. etc. It’s a complicated but an ancient and venerable process.