Saturday, 17 November 2018

Working With Petrified Wood

Last summer, my friend and fellow lapidary Glenn Cook from Arizona gave me some beautiful slabs of petrified wood from his "stash". I would tell you the extent of said "stash" but you'd never believe me. Let's just say it's... significant!

Anyway, Glenn cuts thick slabs and this one is about 11 mm. I was originally going to make a pendant and Vickie created a shape so I cut the slab and did a rough grind on the shape. Here's what it looked like.

Since it was too heavy, I thought I would try a little experiment to save me a lot of grinding. Could I actually cut this into two ovals without using a vise? First step was to draw a guide line.

Those of you with sharp eyes will notice that my line wasn't exactly straight but I knew that if I cut on the top side of the line on the left and ended up in the middle of the line on the right it would be perfect. Since I would be feeding the stone by hand, I decided to use my thin MK trim saw blade to give myself a little more margin for error. I carefully started to feed the stone into the blade and here's my result.

The thick piece on the left is now about 6 mm and I will now do a bevel around the edge on the good side and grind it smooth. If it is still too heavy, I'll grind a bit off the back. The one on the left is a shade under 4 mm.Again, sharp eyes will notice that there is now a shape defined on the right. That's the guitar pick that I'm going to make Vickie for our 48th anniversary in a few weeks. I'm thinking I might drill a little hole in it so she can wear it as well as use it as a pick.

Stay tuned for the final result!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Picking Time on The Neck

Winter is coming.

All the signs are there. Today, we had some snow and the high winds and sub freezing temperatures  made the walk from my office to the rock lab "refreshing". The hatches have been battened down, roof leak repaired and the wood stove is cranked up. We're ready.

The industrial heater in the rock lab makes it nice and comfortable out there and over the last week I have finished a new batch of guitar picks.

I started with 23. 3 broke and the guy who fixed my roof bought 2 so I am left with 18 which should be enough to get me through the holiday season. The patterning in these is awesome and the light ones are mostly amethyst. Now I have to make some more leather pouches.

Fortunately, I have a lot of leather blanks ready to go and they can be done where it's nice and warm.

And speaking of warm, my friend in Arizona sent me pics of some slabs he is bringing me next year. These are slabs of petrified wood from the Petrified Forest in Arizona.

Pretty awesome, huh? Can't wait to do some cutting and polishing!

We will be taking the sign in pretty soon so it doesn't blow away but if the car is here, we're here so come on in.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Beauty of Nova Scotia

It's been a while since I posted because I've been busy in the rock lab and it's also the time of the year when we "batten down the hatches" around here. The store is still open but we will probably bring the large sign in so it doesn't blow away in the next big wind.

The knitters had a very successful show in both Vancouver and Austen Texas but we have received new stock just before the postal strike!

So, the beauty of Nova Scotia. For those of you who have traveled here, you know all about it. You are never more than a few miles from the ocean and even old abandoned houses are amazing! Just google abandoned houses in Nova Scotia to see what I mean. People have been living, and making a living, here for 300 years so history is everywhere you look.

Even the weather is beautiful- especially when it is wild. And trust me it gets pretty wild! Here's what I woke up to a few days ago, when a big storm was heading our way.

Talk about "red skies in the morning"! We were getting pounded just a few hours later.

But there's beauty everywhere, even below ground. Here's a slice of a fossilized tree showing really distinct rings.

And here's a beautiful slice of seam agate.

So if your idea of a great vacation is to wring beauty from nature, this is your place. And if you find your way to my beautiful "neck of the woods"- Digby Neck, stop by and say hi and I'll show you some beautiful treasures of nature.

Monday, 24 September 2018

It's Knit City Week!

Vancouver, here we come or rather, here comes Vickie and Lisa. I will stay at home to look after the shop and the cats.
The feverish preparations are winding down and the last sock blank has been packed up. Here's a sample:

So as in previous years, I have to advise you of a few changes. First off, the shop will be closed on Wednesday, September 26th and Sunday October 7th so that I can get Vickie to and from the airport in Halifax.
Also, while we still have some yarn on the shelves, a lot of it will be in Vancouver and, after that, Austen Texas along with many of the finished hand knitted pieces so if you are looking for knitting supplies, stay away for a few weeks! (just kidding- come by and buy some rocks!).
I'll be in the rock lab where the cats can't get at me!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Knit City- Here We Come

A big part of The Artist's Mark is that we are the only retail outlet for the now world famous Seawall Fibres hand dyed yarn. Each year, daughter Lisa (AKA- The Dyer) and Vickie (AKA- the Designer) head off to Vancouver for an event called Knit City.

Knit City is an event attended by thousands of rabid knitters and over the course of three days we sell several hundred skeins of yarn.

Last year, we introduced a product called the Sock Blank. This is a length of knitted yarn which Vickie "paints" with dye to create a piece of art. Here's one she did last year.

The knitter, however, starts unraveling the "art" and uses it to knit a pair of socks! Hence the name "Sock Blanks". Don't ask me to justify other than to say that knitters are, how can I put this in a nice way, CRAZY!

Last year they sold all they brought so this year Vickie is back at it with a vengeance.

So this year they will be heading west with an even larger selection and after they get back I'm going to sweet talk Vickie into making some for the shop.

This year, however, the big unveiling will be of our new spokesperson- Knut The Knitter! Here is yours truly posing with him.

Knut will be at the booth and we are even going to have a contest for attendees who get their picture taken with him and we have a really nice enamel pin featuring Knut for sale. These will also be available in the shop after the show if there are any left. As you can see, we have tapped in to the Viking heritage evident in the popular Viking Shield Shawl that Vickie recently designed and released.

So if you are in Vancouver on the weekend of September 29th, stop by the booth and get your picture taken. And if you are a local who comes by to buy yarn, you might want to hold off next week because a lot of our stock has already been shipped out there.

And while Vickie has been painting, I've been working on some jewelry pieces that I'll feature in an upcoming blog.

As always, if you get lost and find yourself on Digby Neck, stop by and say hi. The weather is still warm and visitors are telling me that the whale watching is really good!

Monday, 17 September 2018

The Best Thing To Come Out Of Australia

So here's the beer lover's dilemma.
The doc says no more than one beer a day.
Here's your solution.
I proudly present to you The Darwin "Stubby"

Yes folks, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is 2 full litres of pure beer drinking pleasure!
OK so Sapporo has one too but then you have to drink Sapporo.
Just look at it standing proudly along side a "normal" can of Tooheys.
So the next time you tell "She Who MUST Be Obeyed" that you are just going to stop off and have a beer with the boys, order this bad boy, come home four hours later and pass the polygraph test!
Actually, the Stubby was phased out in 2015 and a wake was held to commemorate the sad event.
Here's an account:
The wake commemorating the life and times of the Darwin Stubby was held at an Alice Springs steak house.
Restaurant owner Wayne Kraft said he was holding the event because, "Darwin is still in mourning".
Mr Kraft said he was encouraged to hold the wake by former Northern Territory administrator Ted Egan, who is famous for turning empty beer boxes into musical instruments.
"It is a sad day so we'll shed a tear in our beer, and Ted's going to reminisce and maybe sing a few songs," Mr Kraft said.
Mr Egan said the Darwin Stubby was a great tourism device, and he often took one along on official visits to promote the Territory.
"It's sad that it's gone but life goes on, and it was one of the great means of attracting people to the Territory," he said.
"It was all about just slow drinking and a lot of chats.
"Drinking is really supposed to be convivial, with lots of food and laughter. That's the old style."
A slow cooked 43-kilogram leg of central Australian camel was being served with the last remaining bottles of NT Draught.
The Humpty Doo Hotel, 50 kilometres from Darwin, used to hold an annual Darwin Stubby drinking competition featuring Norman the Brahman bull, who held the record for the fastest scull of the giant beer.
According to ABC News reports from 1988, Norman once sculled a 2.25 litre stubby in 47 seconds.
At the 1988 competition Norman was reported have washed down his stubby with "half a dozen tinnies and a meat pie".

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The Latest From The Rock Lab

Now that the kids are back in school, I have fewer visitors to the shop and more time to work in the rock lab.
Recently, a friend from Arizona who spends the summer on Digby Neck brought me some beautiful rock from Arizona including several beautiful slabs of petrified wood. I'll figure out what to do with them this fall but first I wanted to work with warm and cool. Arizona is known as red rock country and he brought a nice slab of jasper from Cave Creek. It's not the easiest stone to work with because it really colours the saw oil and grinding surfaces. But the results are pretty spectacular!
Here's a cab I cut and polished along side the original slab:

The colour is a little off and the stone has a beautiful rich chestnut colouring as well as amazing depth for jasper.
But Arizona can also be cool and this nice piece of serpentine speaks to this. Here it is lit from the front:

And here it is back lit showing the cool translucence:

Both have been drilled and made into stylish pendants and are available in the shop. And keep checking the blog to see what I do with the petrified wood!
The weather is beautiful right now and whale watching is at its peak so if you have some vacation time, come visit The Neck- a most unique part of Nova Scotia.