Saturday, 19 September 2020

Time to Shut Down The Cab King

 Half way through the summer I bit the bullet and bought a Cab King cabbing machine and it has exceeded even my high expectations!

It was so much fun that even the lady with the agate eye tried it out!

But now the days are getting shorter and it's getting pretty chilly in my Lap of Lapidary Shop so it's time to shut 'er down and do a clean up and let me tell you, it will be a lot easier with the Cab King! I may even be able to con "The Real Artist" into helping if she wants to collect the rock dust to make pigment!

My last task was to finish a bunch of local Bay of Fundy agate and jasper I had rough cut earlier and I have to say they turned out even better than I had hoped! The Cab King is awesome!

I also finished off some more petrified wood so there will be lots to work with on the jewelry bench when the snows are being blown around by our winter gales. And speaking of that, we are going to get a visit from Hurricane Teddy on Tuesday with wind gusts supposed to top out at 130+ KPH so that should be exciting!

Work is continuing on our new web site- the Seawall Emporium- and I have about 35 pieces ready for photography with a goal of having 50 listed by the end of October so stay tuned!

Stay healthy and sane!

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Eye of the Tiger

 Summer is gradually coming to a close and the sun is appearing farther south on the horizon every morning. The mornings aren't yet cold enough to turn on heat but we're getting there.

The good old Lot-O-Tumbler is doing its last load for the year and once I have worked a few stones for "She Who MUST Be Obeyed" I'll start cleaning the machines and the Lap of Lapidary will be shut down except for the drill press that I'll continue to use for metalwork through the winter.

Last year I participated in a little product research for Hi-Tech Diamond, a great American lapidary equipment company and as thanks, they gifted me with a beautiful thick slab of Tiger's Eye. This material appears to be the type formed by altered asbestos or chrysotile so I call it the ugly duckling. It starts life as an ugly, potentially dangerous mineral and, after it has been altered by silicate fluids, it becomes an amazingly beautiful gem rock that exhibits "chatoyance" or a shimmer of light that causes the stone to look different as it moves. It's an amazing, complex process that I won't go into here but the results it produces are visually stunning.

When I got the slab, I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it. It was large enough for me to get 3 pendants and thick enough for me to do a complete drop- that is curved surface front and back. I needed 3 pendants of differing size- the largest for Vickie my wife (she with the agate eye), a medium sized one for my older daughter Lisa and a smaller one for daughter Sandra- the runt of the litter.

First step was to define the shapes using a magic marker and doing a rough cut of the slab. I used my 10 inch Hi-Tech saw because the slab was so thick. Then I ground out the outside shapes on my new (and much loved!) Cab King cabbing machine.

Next, while the stones still had flat surfaces front and back, I located the mid point and cut a groove around the perimeter as shown in this stone, using a machine with a 1 mm. bit that lets me cut horizontal grooves.

The groove holds the wire I use to set the stone and doing it with a flat surface lets you make a nice straight cut. I like using this technique because it doesn't interfere with the colour or patterning of the stone.

Then it was back to the Cab King to grind the curved shapes on both sides, smooth them out and then polish with a mixture of tin and cerium oxide. I love the results!

I used bronze wire to complement the golden yellow of the stones and now the girls just have to decide what they want me to hang them on. Here's a video showing the effect of chatoyance but in all honesty, it is much more pronounced in person.

I hope you enjoy this and now it's on to new adventures. We have almost completed work on our new web site and enterprise- the Seawall Emporium- and I am now figuring out how I can incorporate old guitar strings in my creations so stay tuned (get it?)  and stay sane and healthy!

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Latest From the Lap of Lapidary

I really miss all the tourists but must confess we are enjoying the slower pace of life this summer. The lady with the agate eye has been up to her old tricks and brought some beauties home with her yesterday, including these two:

Today I fired up the 10 inch Hi-Tech saw and this is what they looked like on the inside. First, the one with all the amethyst druzys:

and here is the second one:

I have to admit, they didn't disappoint. Both the colour and patterning are amazing. And while I was at it, I cut a few more of yesterday's treasures. Here's how they look, outside and inside:

Right now we're hard at work getting our expanded web presence set up for the fall. Look for great things coming from the  Seawall Emporium. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Wire Wrapping Grooved Stoned

 Today I'm going to show you how I wire wrap pendant stones that have been grooved around the edge. I'll use the three stones I featured in yesterday's video. Actually, I'll use two of the three as one had a small chip come off in the groove cutting process and the customer chose a new stone.

A few words about the video. First you will notice that the venue has changed. That's because I'm working on my assembly bench located within the spacious confines of the studio belonging to the real artist in the family- Vickie. And secondly, I apologize for the overuse of the phrase "So now" as well as the phantom voice over "one" that my highly trained videographer threw in. You truly do get what you paid for!

Several people have pointed out that the third tip was missing from yesterday's video so I included it at the beginning of today's. I'd like to say that I did it as a teaser but it was just a glitch. Hey, I'm old!

So here goes:

The results were very satisfying as I ended up with three stones that are very tightly wrapped and look awesome. So the next step will be to choose the leather cords. Stay tuned.

Today's Output- 3 wire wrapped Petrified Wood Cabs

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Cutting Perimeter Grooves in Petrified Wood Cabochons

I am now well into my petrified wood project. Just to recap, I started with several beautiful slabs of petrified wood and used a magic marker to define shapes.

I then cut them out and finished them on my new Cab King. The results were pretty spectacular.

Recently I was contacted by someone who wanted to buy these three.

So today, they had to have grooves cut around the perimeter to prepare for wire wrapping. I prefer this technique when stones have a lot of patterning or colour shifts so the wrapping doesn't "compete". I have included this video to show the process. Hope you enjoy it.

In my next post, I'll include a video on my process for wrapping with a groove cut.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Latest Pieces from The Lap of Lapidary

Well, it certainly has been a "different" summer- in many ways.

First, there has been the weather- definitely not the year for "fun in the sun" as we have had very few nice days to date.

And then there's "the Virus".

Although there are tourists from other parts of our "Atlantic Bubble" in town, we decided not to open the gift shop because of its small size and will look to establish a significant web presence in the fall. That has meant that it is really quiet around here and while we miss meeting all the interesting people who stop by, it has given us more time to "create". Vickie has been doing some very interesting artwork which is nearing completion and when finished, I'll do a post on it.

It's been fun playing with my new toy- the 8 inch Cab King and a new old (50+ years) toy- my 10 inch Mercury oil saw that daughter Sandra updated with a new and more powerful motor.

I am in the midst of a massive project to create pendants, ear rings and rings from the beautiful petrified wood slabs gifted to me by Glenn Cooke (miss you guys!) but have taken some time to finish a few pieces of local stone that are now ready for wrapping.

The first one is a perfect Digby Neck pendant.

It is shaped just like The Neck- right down to Brier Island- with little druzy pockets in each segment and is made up of the basic rock that makes up The neck- basalt and agate.

The next piece comes from Brier Island- a beautiful piece of dark green brecciated (broken) jasper

I plan on cutting a groove around the edge and wrapping it with silver wire. Should be dynamite!

And then there are these two little gems. They come from a small stone found on a nearby beach that offered a really nice surprise when cut. The smaller is about an inch long.

The colour and detail on the patterning is awesome and deserving of a nice setting.

All for now. Hope to see you soon. Cheers!

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Petrified Wood Project Update

In my previous post I showed the slabs of petrified wood with the shapes I had defined using a marker. I have a combination of pendants, ear rings and a couple of rings.

It took me two days to rough cut all the shapes using a Cab King trim saw and my Hi-Tech 10 inch saw with a thin blade to accommodate some of the larger pieces. I was really pleased with the results since I started with 55 shapes and only lost two due to shattering along fractures. Here's how they looked then.

This morning I switched out the trim saw attachment for the right hand wheels on my Cab King and got busy grinding off all the excess material using my coarse (80 grit) wheel. I was amazed at how fast it went and now they look like this.

So now I am ready for the next step where I will use my 220 grit wheel to do the final smoothing around the perimeter and grind off rock on top to produce "domes" that will allow the rocks to polish. This is a much slower process but it is worth it to get stones that are well shaped because any flaws introduced now can't be undone down the road.

I continue to be really impressed with my Cab King, especially the water delivery system and removal system. And it is really easy to convert back and forth to the trim saw.

Stay tuned for the next step in this rather large project!