Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Some of what I'm cutting these days ...

The weather has turned HOT here in Fresno, and I'm finding some time for cutting stones. The rough for the pictured stones came from an INCREDIBLE deal I made with a local supplier who, in a moment of uncharacteristic laziness ( his word, not mine! ) offered me the three buckets of "stuff" that he'd shoveled up after emptying the outside storage area of the Rock Shop he'd purchased after the long time proprietors retirement to the daisy fields.

At the time of the purchase, I was living across the street from the rock shop, and operating on the "in their sight, in their mind" mode. I made sure that anything they thought was devoid of value and intended to toss out would have to pass before my eyes on its way. I salvaged motors, arbors, cutting desks and boxes full of "junk" that were like gold to me!

Still, the greatest deal was the three buckets of "sweepings." It included such mundanes as plain old bland agate, but the bulk consists of small, great cutting rough.

Now, the stones pictured here will cover the cost of the entire purchase when they sell. They are quite literally only the tip of the iceberg on this deal, and I'll be showing the "in progress" stones here and on my Rockhounds@drizzle.com page.

And for the first time, these stones will show up on our Ebay store when I'm happy with the finished gem. Here we go!

All of these stones were cut on a horizontal lap, using Crystalite & Lapcraft diamond disks and dishes, followed by silicon carbide sanding disks up to well worn 600 grit for prepolish. None of these has yet received a final polish.

I'm starting with this lovely gem, which was a very slightly larger
and rather unimpressive slice of agate, likely from a geode cut.

When I examined it closely, the dusty rough showed a major flaw:
A fracture that dominated it's appearance, making it look like it wouldn't cut a solid stone.

Looking closely in the side view above, you'll see the flaw.
Click & enlarge the pic to see its full extent.

Using the opalescent property of the agate, which includes very light banding,
I cut a very high dome and the fracture line nearly disappeared.

What causes the opalescence? That's a good question.

Here's a copper mineral in quartz, in a modified shield cut.
I rarely cut a calibrated oval, since I work mostly with small rough and
prefer to let the shape, visual texture and "picture" within the stone dictate the final shape.

I've found that this way of allowing the stone to dictate its shape works best for me,
and results in less headaches when a stone doesn't like what I'm doing to it.
Call me superstitious.

This is a "cut off" from a small Panoche Hills serpentine boulder.
As you can see, it has great visual depth. What you may not see is that the black lines are
hematite, and the brown appears to be a silicate. This is some of the hardest serpentine I've cut.

I think that this is howlite. It came from the Panoche Hills, too, and is yet another "cut off."
Interestingly, it is harder than most howlite, and seems to be silicified, too. The nodule was
found fully intact in a gravel bed, obviously a ways from where it must have formed.

One of the great finds in this "pile of sweepings" was this Bruneau jasper,
half of the original slab.

With only perfection of it's original form, this literally ancient petrified wood is entitled
"Live Long, and Prosper."
I love the way the clouds fade at the "terminator" line.

One of my favorite examples of "cutting to the stone," this silver sheen obsidian
was cut from a chunk sized chip. The sheen lines are still a bit subtle without the final polish, but show best in the larger view

Which is it ... Jasper or petrified wood?
I'm still not sure, but I know I'm still looking for another piece of it!

A very cool looking stone and the coolest thing is that the black lines flash when moved ...
with the glint of hematite!

Last but not least, this sleepy opalescent chalcedony nodule was weathered cruddy white on the outside, and held a pleasant surprise of "seaweed & anemone" moss inclusions just below the surface. In fact, the tough part of cutting this one was to not cut away the moss.
So, could the cutting be better, and less imperfections be shown? Perhaps, but the dual influences of limited budget & a love for imperfect and odd stones will continue to lead my design sense. In the coming weeks, my partner Laura will be wire wrapping several stones, and we'll post pics of the finished creations.

Be Well, y'all!