Wednesday, 18 October 2017

We Have a Rolling Mill!

Apparently, I have been living my life in blissful ignorance, unaware of the huge void that existed. That has been rectified, however, as we now have a rolling mill!

"What the heck is a rolling mill", I hear you ask.
Well, basically a rolling mill is something you can roll metal through.

"And, more importantly, why do YOU  feel the need for one?!", I also hear you ask.

As many of you know, we make jewelry from the beautiful jasper and agate we find locally. Actually, I misspeak. Vickie makes the jewelry in her magical studio next to the shop using copper, silver and other metals to create settings for the stones.
For some time, she has been telling me she could really use a rolling mill. Now rolling mills come in all sizes from hand turned bench models to those huge machines used in factories. But even the smallest examples are not cheap! Try looking for one on EBay and you will see that you are looking at several hundred dollars, possibly even thousands for a more automated version.
Recently, we were visiting John and Nancy Hood in Yarmouth. John does beautiful lapidary and creates stunning settings and all our really high end pieces come from him. He and Vickie are similar in several ways- they never throw anything away and they have at least one of everything in their "lairs". So when I mentioned that I was in the market for a rolling mill, it didn't take me by total surprise when John said he might be able to help. A few minutes later he was back with "The Beast" and a deal was made.
 At that point I had a rolling mill that couldn't roll. It had no handle and the cogs were not being held in place. Fortunately, I have a friend who does welding and he attached the handle from a hand auger and secured the cogs. There was, however an important piece missing. On the top, there are two screws that you use to raise or lower the heavy rollers. Naturally, you want them to be positioned so that the space between the rollers is consistent and so ideally, you want to move them both the same amount for each pass. To do this requires a little effort so each screw has a slot in the top for a 5/16 inch Allen Wrench. Do you have any idea how much these wrenches cost? The best deal I could find was going to cost me around $20 but then a very rare thing happened.
Do you ever go to Canadian Tire or any store and see that they have an unbelievable price on something that you either don't need or just bought? Sometimes the price is so good that you wish you needed one just so you could buy it. Well, on the CT web site they showed that a set of Allen wrenches, including the one I needed, was reduced from $17.95 to $4.95 and better yet, there were two in Digby! So for $10 plus tax (paid entirely with my $ millions of accrued Canadian Tire money) we were in business. I give you "The Beast"!

As you can see, I have bolted it to the bench ( a bit of overkill in light of how much this thing weighs- I estimate about 50 pounds at least. The two "ears" sticking up are the Allen Wrenches and as you can also see, Vickie's studio is, as it always is- a mess!
So now to answer the question of why it is needed. Actually, you can do a lot with this thing including:
1. Flattening metal wire.
2. Making metal sheets thinner.
3. Creating a pattern or texture in metal by passing it through with anything patterned, even a piece of
4. Flattening a metal coin, thus making it worthless and I think, breaking some law. I'm a bit of an
5. Acquiring a hernia carrying it from the car to the studio.

This thing is definitely going to change my life!
In the upcoming months, I will be posting pics of some of the pieces that my jewelress is going to create so stay tuned!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Why You Should Visit Nova Scotia in the Fall

A neighbour just left yesterday to return to his winter home and it was as if the weather was mocking him. As with every fall, we are having a run of spectacular weather- sunny, mild and little wind with morning fog.
This is what I woke up to this morning:

Pretty spectacular, huh? Especially since if you looked up, you could see the moon perfectly.
So if you are planning a vacation next year and thinking of coming this way, consider the fall.
Hope to see you soon. Cheers!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A Beautiful Stone From Out of Town

Pretty well everything I sell in the shop, actually pretty well everything I work on, comes from within a few miles of my house.
But recently, I came into possession of a really nice piece of Brazilian Crazy Lace Agate. This stuff is absolutely amazing in both its colouring and pattern. I had one slab and gave the rest to John Hood to cut on his larger saw and I was not disappointed because here are some pics of what I got back.

These slabs are about 6 inches by 8 inches so there is a lot of beautiful stone to work with.
And, since I got my missing flat lap discs in the mail yesterday, I was able to put the machine through its paces. I was very impressed by what it could do and my home made drip system worked perfectly.I was able to work a piece the same as above but with a druzy in the center that made it iffy to get marks out near the middle. The flat lap worked beautifully and here is a piece worked to 3000 grit on the flat lap and then finished at 8000 on my arbor.

Because of my total lack of photography skills, the colours aren't great but as you can see, the scratches are gone! It is now ready to be buffed and polished and made into a stunning pendant!
One tumbler load finished today and two more to go before I shut it down for the winter. next week I'll be doing a lot of work on the flat lap and will post more pics and if you are in the neighbourhood, come on by and say hello.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Back in The Knitting Business!

It was sort of like the tides around  here.
When Vickie left for Knit City in Vancouver, the yarn went out like the tide and the shelves were totally bare. Then, after a hugely successful show where they sold more than double their objective, Vickie came back and so did a lot of yarn since Lisa had shipped a ton directly to B.C.
So, just like the tide coming in, the shelves are once more filled and we also have a fair bit of knitted goods in stock.
We also took the occasion to do a little remodeling so here is what we look like now.


In news from the rock shop, I finally got my flat lap plates and new blade for the 10 inch saw so I will be finishing a lot of the beautiful rough I have. Here is a pendant I've pretty much finished (going to leave the small pits)
And here is a really nice piece of quartz which I'll probably sell as a specimen.

As usual, fall has brought spectacular weather. We hope to have the shop open, at least on weekends, until the end of the year so if you are coming this way, let us know so we can be open for you.
See you soon.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

How Can I Make My Rocks Look Beautiful?

I am a member of the Nova Scotia Rockhounds Facebook group and this morning someone asked about cutting and polishing rocks. I gave the short answer then and will give the long answer now.

"How can I get my rocks to look as beautiful as yours?" That's a question I often get asked by visitors to my shop.
The sad answer is that you probably can't- not because I'm better than you but because I probably have better equipment. To duplicate my shop with new machines would set you back over $10,000! So it is rare that Lapidary is a money making hobby.
My rock shop
That being said, there are some things you can do to make your finds more beautiful- especially if you stay small, and you can at least get started for a reasonable outlay.
The smallest saw I own is a Rock Rascal with a 6 inch diamond blade. With it, I can cut rock up to about 2 inches thick. I can also grind a face if I want.
A new Rock Rascal will set you back over $500

 But you don't need a rock saw to cut rock. You can get by in most cases with a tile saw. Home Depot has a beauty- the QEP 22650 which you can buy with a 7 inch diamond blade for $129. I've seen it in action and was pretty impressed.
This saw has a bridge to help position the rock and can cut faces on an angle if you want. Is the tile saw as good as the Rock Rascal? It depends on the blade you use. It has a 3/4 HP motor so it has the power you need.
So now you've cut a face but it has ugly blade marks on it and isn't shiny. No problem. Buy a rock tumbler! But not just any tumbler. There are two basic types of rock tumblers- those which have drums that rotate and those that have drums that vibrate. The rotating type tends to make the rocks round, which is a problem when tumbling vein rock like agate or jasper and they take a long time- several weeks!
I recently started using a vibrating tumbler called the Lot-O-Tumbler. It has a rubber bowl so it is much less noisy and you can tumble 4 pounds (8 if you buy the double) from rough to finished in less than a week! If you are in Nova Scotia, you may be able to get one from George Johnston who has set up a supply business called Scotia Prospecting Supplies in Chester and if you buy one, get an extra bowl for the polishing stage to avoid grit contamination. Believe me- it is worth it and so is the tumbler! It just might be the best piece of lapidary equipment I've ever used.
I give you the Lot-O-Tumbler.
You should be able to put any of your cut rock in here and tumble it to a high shine IF THE ORIGINAL MATERIAL IS A SILICATE or MICROCRYSTALLINE! You can't get a shine on rocks like sandstone (unless there is a lot of silica) or limestone. All you need is some grit and polishing material that George can probably sell you as well.

So that's all for this week. next week, I'll do another blog on taking it to the next level. And if you have questions, I'd be happy to try my best to answer them.
One last thought. If you have friends who also enjoy the hobby, form a club and pool your money to buy equipment you can share. As a last resort, I charge $30 an hour to work on other people's material.

Monday, 2 October 2017

New Batch of Stones From The Tumbler

Just finished another load in my Lot-O-Tumbler and some truly beautiful stones came out.

A couple were stones that I had originally cut and shaped (the 2 on the left) while others were just put in raw. There is an absolutely beautiful piece of fortification agate which I'll probably cut for a pendant.

There were also some beautiful blue stones as shown below.

I am pretty sure this is pietersite and again, it will be cut or shaped for jewelry.

On the knitting front, Knit City is now over and apparently Seawall Fibres hit it out of the park. After day#1, sales had way surpassed what had been hoped for for the whole event and after 2 days, they were about 3 times what they had hoped for. Best of all, we got great feedback from our customers and about 15 new members of our Seawall Fibres Ravelry group. There were several approaches by retailers wanting to carry our yarn but Lisa is determined to stay small and do it right.
I'll do another post when Vickie gets home.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Seawall Fibres Huge Success at Knit City 2017

I finally made contact with the girls last night after they had gotten home from Day #1. Apparently, business was brisk to say the least.
Vickie at the desk processing credit cards.
The girls say they estimate they sold about half the skeins they had shipped out there and that there were only a few of Vickie's hand painted yarn blanks left.

People lined up waiting their turn at the cash.
So they have already gone way past their sales goal for the entire event!
They said that it was great to meet so many knitters from the Ravelry group and to hear the comments about the quality of our yarn.
Today should be another busy day and I'll update tomorrow.