Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Rhodochrosite Has Been Cut!

In my last post I showed a chunk of rough rhodochrosite that I picked up Monday. Yesterday, I mounted it to a piece of 2x4 so I could cut it and after letting it set overnight I was able to put it on the saw this morning. Here is the result.

Even before it has been polished you can see the vitreous lustre (no that's not a typo- that's how we spell it here in Canada). I had to cut the slabs a little thicker because the stone is quite a bit softer than the agate I normally work with. Agate has a hardness of 6.5-7 while this is 3.5-4, close to calcite and flourite.

What really stands out, apart from the lustre, is the beautiful linear design which is a product of how and where the stone was formed. Rhodochrosite is often found in veins associated with silver and I'm pretty sure this piece came from a silver mine in Argentina but the circular patterns are because this rock actually formed as a cave piller (stalactite or stalagmite) one drop at a time!
Rhodochrosite is sometimes called Inca Rose and is, in fact, the national gemstone of Argentina. It is sometimes referred to as the "Stone of the Compassionate Heart" which is probably why I identify with it so much, me being such a compassionate individual and all, (heh,heh).
So what happens now?

Maybe it will inspire Lisa to introduce a new colour of hand dyed yarn through Seawall Fibres (yes, that's how we spell fibre in Canada).

 The stone in the lower right is a thin end piece and it will be cut about in half and shaped as per the instructions of "She Who MUST Be Obeyed. The other three pieces will be turned over to her as well and she will decide how she wants them cut and shaped. I can tell you this- we're going to get some beautiful pieces in the end and I'll try to post follow up pics as they become available.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Vickie Finally Gets Her Diamond

In about a month, on December 11th of this year, we will have been married for 47 years. This, of course, is solely due to Vickie's Job like patience and my learning when to keep my big mouth shut!
When we got married, money was really tight. Some will say that with me, money is always tight but that's the subject of another blog. Anyway, Norwegians get married by exchanging gold bands and when I saw that Hemsley's Jewelers in Montreal was having a sale on gold bands I took it as a sign of two things- one, I was really Norwegian and two it was time to propose. Catching Vickie in a weak moment she said yes and I have been on a series of one year contracts ever since- sort of like Walter Alston when he was managing the Brooklyn Dodgers.
To get some leverage and ensure that contract negotiations go smoothly, I thought it was time for Vickie to finally get her diamond. So earlier this week we paid Vaughn Tidd a visit over in Barrington and we came back with her diamond.

 It is actually a Herkimer Diamond- a biconed quartz crystal from Herkimer NY and upon closer inspection I realized I actually bought her three!

Can't believe I'm getting so generous!
She's gonna have to strengthen her wrist a bit before she can wear it but it will sure be a show-stopper!
Anyway, to seal the deal, I also bought her this beautiful piece of rhodochrosite which I will cut so she can make herself (and possibly a few other people) something pretty.
I am pretty sure this comes from an old silver mine in Argentina because that's where this mineral is found forming stalactites and stalagmites- hence the rings.
If you are on The Neck, stop by and say hi if I have the "open" sign up- even if I have taken the big sign down.
Stay tuned to hear how I make out in the contract talks...

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Jewelry Production Back in High Gear

Well, the weather is definitely changing. Have had the wood stove going for about a week but although we had a bit of sleet a few days ago, so far no snow.
These are the perfect climactic conditions to make jewelry... indoors... in a cozy studio.
Vickie has agreed to take me on as an unpaid apprentice and I have learned a bit about the basics of wire work. Let me make one thing clear- I am not allowed to do anything creative! I am what's affectionately known as a "grunt" or "gofer" depending on the situation. So for the last few days I have been cutting copper wire into lengths to be used to make clasps, and then I have learned how to make the two clasps. Here is the result of my labours:

I have also become proficient at cutting the "jump rings" shown in the upper right corner. All of this is so that my "sensei" can do her thing.
She also had a few things to make first (since I am not allowed to control anything that is on fire) so here she is making some copper pins using a blow torch.



 Vickie and I both prefer  interesting stones such as agate over classic gems and we both feel that any setting should add interest to the stone and not overpower it so in this case, since we started with a fairly large piece, a little bit of copper was only going to make it better.  Vickie started to work her wire magic.
And here's the result.
The rock, by the way, is local and appears to be a vein of stilbite that has subsequently replaced by agate, framed in basalt. Never seen anything like it and probably won't again.
She felt that Greek leather would be the perfect "chain" for it and now we are just waiting for the new owner to tell us how long she wants it.
In the days to come, I'll be posting pics of what comes next so keep checking 'cause you will see some really interesting stuff.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Big Storm!

So after a long stretch of beautiful weather, we had a real doozy hit last night and it will get progressively worse through the day today with wind gusts hitting 110 KPH. So instead of rockhounding yesterday, I spent the day preparing- including the removal of our large sign in the front by the road.

    In that big a wind coming from the south, the sign might end up in New Brunswick!
I will probably leave the sign down until the spring but will still change the smaller Open/ Closed one so if you see Open, come on in! We just got a new large shipment of yarn and I have completed about 30 pieces of inexpensive pendants. Got the flat lap wheels I was missing so it is back to work today!                                                                                                                                                  

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Jewelry Production Ramping Up!

Even though the weather is still beautiful (ignore that big storm heading right at us), the tourist season is dying down and we have more time to work on some of the beautiful raw materials in the rock lab.
Today, I got the last full load of raw stones out of my Lot-O-Tumbler and it didn't disappoint.




There is a lot of amazing stuff here. Some of the small pieces will be put in cages or have caps attached like this:

Some of the larger pieces will get special treatment. Who wouldn't want to wear a pendant made from this?

And Vickie has already started on some exceptional stones. Here is a piece of crazy lace agate from Gulliver's Cove finished with a copper prong setting.
Here is another that shows what can happen when you marry a beautiful stone with Vickie's amazing wire work.
The piece above is entirely hand made from copper wire and a great piece of golden plume agate and even more spectacular in person. By next spring, it is our goal to have 50-75 pieces in all price ranges in the shop and available on line so keep checking the blog to see what we come up with.
Also, over the winter, we will be revamping the shop a little and I'll post pics. We have already improved the lighting so stay tuned.

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Bag Fairy Pays a Visit

One of the most popular items in our shop has been the unique bags that Vickie makes. It started when she made one for herself and then friends wanted one and then...
These bags take time to make and time is in short supply for Vickie right now what with her designing, knitware, getting used to her rolling mill, painting sock blanks and looking after her recalcitrant husband. The other problem is that the components she uses- premium designer material, special mesh etc. are in very short supply. But this week she took the time to make a few more for the shop and here they are:

The price is still the same- $45 and, as you can see, they are works of art. So if you are looking for that special gift for that special person (ie. YOU!), stop by the shop and pick one up before they are all gone because it may be a very long time before I can get the "Bag Lady" to haul out her sewing machine!
If you are not from this area and would like one of these bags, we can ship it to you and you can pay via paypal. Just send me an email or comment on this post. I will try to post some pics of other items we have that you might want to purchase on line.
Today, we start in earnest to make jewelry from our beautiful stone. I will be working as Vickie's no-pay apprentice so if the blog suddenly goes dead it will be because I have suddenly gone dead.
Cheers and it's been nice knowing ya!

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
    cloth.
4. Flattening a metal coin, thus making it worthless and I think, breaking some law. I'm a bit of an
    anarchist.
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!