Tuesday, 17 November 2015

New Lapidary Equipment

So after a lot of head scratching and "creative" engineering, the old Mercury arbor is ready to use.
When I got this, there were 4 grinding wheels on it and a gravity drip system to provide cooling.
Since I now have 60 and 100 grit wheels on the other machines, I removed the 100 grit wheel. Also, the 600 grit grinding wheel has been replaced by a 600 grit diamond belt on the new Lortone unit.
3 new diamond belts

Now there are 200 and 400 grit grinding wheels that have been cleaned and leveled using my diamond sintered truing tool.
So in the empty space on the arbor, I added 3 sanding drums (1200, 3000 and 8000 grit).
I also have a 14,000 grit flat lap on one end.

On the other end, there was an old style metal sanding drum which I am now using as a holder for a padded leather polishing pad.
leather polishing pad with felt underlay

The gravity wetting system has been replaced by a "spitter" which wets the wheel being used from below.

So now I can cut rocks up to 2 inches thick, grind it from 60 grit (really coarse) to 14,000 grit (really, REALLY fine)  and then polish it.
cover reinstalled- ready for action!

The weather is getting cooler each day so the timing is perfect since I have a lot of beautiful agate to work with.
If you are in the area, now or next summer, let me know and I'll be happy to show you how it works. We should have some beautiful specimens and agate jewelry next spring.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

New Lapidary Material

It is a foggy day on The Neck and I am still waiting for some grinding wheels and sanding belts to complete my lapidary set up so I thought you might like to see some of the material we have found and cut recently.

Beautiful example of fortification
Vickie found this beautiful stone at Gulliver's Cove. We will cut a few more slabs and make some gorgeous pendants.

A golden and red plume agate with fortification found on Seawall Beach by AgateEye
This stone looked interesting on the outside but even we were surprised when we cut it open! The colours and pattern are spectacular and we plan to cut some slabs for jewelry and sell the rest as specimens.

Really interesting chevron type pattern

Gorgeous example of the rare Golden Flame Agate!
These spectacular stones were both found at Seawall Beach after a huge storm. Both will be used to create jewelry this winter. Boy, is AgateEye going to be busy! It's her own fault - she keeps finding 'em.

The Rock Den is really starting to take shape. New (old) 8" sanding drums came from Black Mountain Lapidary in Kelowna, BC along with the leather buffing pad. Just waiting on the belts, and then we'll reconfigure the arbor. 

Watch for a post showing the new setup.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Gulliver's Cove

This is the first post using my new Samsung note 8.0 and Kingston Bluetooth keyboard. Since I can also take pictures with this tablet, I will be able to post a lot more frequently.
Gulliver's Cove is a little over a mile from our house, on the Bay of Fundy.
The Beach at Gullivers Cove
We had a really big storm here last week. A Supermoon means supertides and that combined with  the storm gave us tides several feet higher than normal and a lot of wave damage. Since the wind was from the south, Gulliver's was spared a lot of the damage.
The cove has an interesting history. Supposedly, Gulliver was a pirate and married to a woman from the caribbean. She didn't want to stay here (can't imagine why!) And he wouldn't take her home so she killed him. The crew was afraid they might be next so they took her home, dropped her off and sailed back to resume their profession. That's the story the locals tell.
The Beach Looking West Towards The Lookout Point
We like Gullivers because it is pretty easy to find agate in the stream that runs down to the Bay. A lot of it is Crazy Lace and we have a couple of beautiful pendants set in sterling silver using stones found there.

Beautiful Crazy Lace Pendant
The view from the lookout is spectacular and a great place to eat lunch. Next time you visit the area, check it out! And then come and check out the store.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Rock Saw Has Arrived

Recently Jonathan and Jolene from Scotian Lapidary Supply delivered our Lortone trim saw. It is a combination unit that lets us cut, grind, sand and polish material that doesn't require a slab saw.

Right now, our daughter and grandsons are visiting and these are pictures of Ethan using the saw.

When things slow down during the fall and winter, we will be going through the material we have accumulated and cutting both specimen pieces and smaller slabs for Vickie to use in her jewelry creation.

So next time you are in the Digby Neck area, stop by and see what we have in the store. Our daughter Bahama Blonde dropped off a beautiful selection of hand-knitted pieces, many of which use premium local wools.
And keep checking the blog because we will be posting pieces as they are created. If you can't get to us, we plan on opening an Etsy shop and when we do, we will post it here so keep checking. And if there is anything in particular you are interested in, send us an email.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

More Beautiful Agates

Well, "The Beast" has given up another load of gorgeous tumbled agates. After 4 stages and 16 days, here is what we got.

While we had a few pieces that had been cut previously, almost all of these were stones that we found.

We noted some beautiful red and golden flame along with moss, plume, lace and fortification and a few nice pieces of jasper.

We will now grade them as gem, specimen or general. The latter we put in genuine bait bags found on the beach and sell for $10 a bag (about 2 pounds) and the buyer gets to choose a specimen piece as well.
The next batch will include the agate we have found at Gulliver's Cove and there will be some really nice crazy lace agate in there.
If you are in the area and the open sign is out, drop by and say hi.
Enjoy your summer!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Take The Road Less Travelled

In today's fast-paced life, most people take "destination" vacations. Get there fast, enjoy the destination and go home. Since time is so precious, travelers are wary of wasting a second on an unrewarding side trip.
So you need a great reason for getting off the big highway and taking the road less traveled. I'm going to give you two.
Now that the ferry has come back to Yarmouth, a lot of people are driving highway #101 to get to the Annapolis Valley and Halifax or back to Yarmouth for the ferry.
Do yourself a huge favour and take exit #28 to Belliveau Cove. In a few miles, you will enter the French Shore- home to the Acadians and their marvelous culture and life style. If you are like me, you will feel that you have gone back in time to a more simple, gentler era where people actually care.

Reason #1 is Claude Chaloux and his great store- Art & Mineraux. Claude isn't a true Acadian- he was born in Quebec but he has sure picked up the life style. Like everyone in the area, he speaks perfect english and is truly hospitable.

What sets him apart is his art. Claude is very much like my wife- he's great at a lot of things. He paints, he sculpts and he creates beautiful jewelry. All Claude's art is worth the trip just to see.
Art & Mineraux is a real find! Along with Claude's work, you will find pieces from other artists as well as mineral specimens and fossils from all over the world. But the real centerpiece is Claude himself- a true gentle man and font of local information.

Art & Mineraux- 3271 Hwy. #1 Belliveau Cove, NS

On your vacation, you only get so many meals. Reason #2, The Roadside Grill in Belliveau Cove is worthy of being one of them.

Here you get it all- great food, fast, friendly service and a home style setting which again reflects gentler, simpler times. And if you are adventurous, you might want to try the crowning achievement of Acadian food.

 Rapure (Rappie) Pie is one of those meals you need to try at least once. My wife loves it and has become a bit of a connoisseur. In her opinion, the Rappie Pie at the Grill is at or near the top on any given day. Cross it off your bucket list. Apart from that, what's great on the menu? Easy- everything!
They also have cabins and after you have tasted the food, you just might want to stay!
Roadside Grill- 3334 Hwy. #1 Belliveau Cove

So if you are in the area, do yourself a real favour and visit Belliveau Cove. It's not far from Hwy. 101 and I predict it will be one of the highlights of your stay in beautiful, friendly, Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Journey From Stone to Jewelry

Just back from Halifax where we picked up some agate stone we had cut by Scotian Lapidary. There are some absolutely beautiful pieces which we will now finish. Gotta fire up "The Beast" again!
Then today it was off to Yarmouth to pick up a stunning pendant that John Hood at Scotia Gems has crafted from one of the agates we found. Here it is!

front of pendant in silver setting with cast silver seashell
The stone shows beautiful areas of red and golden flame and some fortification agate as well.

The lovely open-back setting.
That got me thinking about the fascinating process of creating beautiful pieces such as this. In this case, it started with Vickie finding a rather large rock containing some beautiful flame agate. John took the rock and cut a slab about 7 mm thick and from that used another saw to rough cut the shape you see. This sounds pretty simple but it takes knowledge and experience to know exactly how the stone should be cut to maximize it's beauty. Cut it wrong and it may be ruined. These pieces are called cabochons and they have to be ground, polished and contoured using several separate pieces of equipment.I think John is still using equipment his grandfather bought! A lot of the agate is discarded in the process and, again, it takes an expert like John to make the best use of the stone and find the most dramatic and interesting areas. Then John uses wax to create a mold to hold the stone and fills the mold with silver. The mold is then removed and the stone is fixed securely inside and you have the beautiful piece you see above. It takes a good stone and an experienced craftsman like John to create something so beautiful and dramatic. That's why we carry John's work.

In other news, we are now in the electronic version of the Nova Scotia Tourism's Doers and Dreamers Travel Guide. Next year we will be in the printed version as well.
Things are starting to heat up on the Neck and we see more and more tourists here and in town. My geologist buddy from Australia arrives on Friday. Can't wait to show him our stone!
Drop by and see all the beautiful stuff and then go walk the beach.
See you soon.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Agates- God's Abstract Art

I've decided not to bore you with all the chemistry but put simply, agates are beautiful! Some of the ones shown below are extremely rare- found in only a few locations near the Bay of Fundy!
By definition, agates are supposed to be banded but since some aren't, I'm going to give you my definition-
A microcrystalline silicate with some kind of a pattern. The pattern is caused by chemical variations of the silicate (impurities) which are mainly hematite (black, silver, red) and limonite (yellow, brown).
There are several types of agate but all are created in much the same way- very hot silica-rich liquid flowing through cracks in the basalt, cooling and precipitating out the silicate. The silicate builds up over a very long time until there is no more space.
Several different types of agates exist.
Fortification agate gets its name from the fort-like structures you can see.
Cut by Scotia Lapidary

Moss Agate is called that because of the plant-like structures it contains. Not all moss agates are green- they can be pretty much any colour and shape.
Cut by scotia gems (7 inch x 4 inch)

Flame Agate contains flame like structures that seem to shoot in from the edge. The flames can be red, cherry or golden (rare) depending on the impurities. We have all of these in the shop.
Cut and polished by Scotian Lapidary

Cut by Scotia Gems

Plume Agate is kind of similar to the flame but the shape is more rounded. Again, it can be different colours and we have a beautiful piece of cherry just waiting for someone to use it as a pendant.

All cut and polished by Scotian Lapidary

Crazy Lace Agate is the wacko member of the agate family. The matrix is usually white (chalcedony) and it contains really weird shaped designs in various colours. We have some beautiful slabs of this as well.

Crazy Lace all cut by Scotia Gems

There are several other types but they tend to be variations on these.

In the shop, we have tumbled stones, slabs (for display or lapidary), cut display pieces and rough material. This rock is so beautiful, you have to drop by and see it.

We'll be away for a few days but when we get back, I'm going to be posting features on the artists who have work here as well as some of the lapidarys we work with. I'll also have features on "The Beast" (our rock tumbler) as well as some of the things you can see or do in this beautiful part of Nova Scotia.
See you soon.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Amazing Geology of Digby Neck

This post is quite a challenge as I have to condense roughly 350 million years of "rock history" into a couple of paragraphs but here goes.
So 350 million years ago, Digby Neck was a really happening place. We were part of a supercontinent called Pangaea and attached to present day Africa. If that isn't enough, we were located on or near the equator! By this time, major fault lines had created steep sided basins called rift valleys. Sea levels were going up and down which is why we find, at the Seawall Cliffs near our house, areas where mud flats have dried out and the cracks have been filled with sand. So when it was subsequently buried and became rock, it looked like a mosaic tiled floor.
the spectacular red cliffs of the Seawall seen from our deck

Then as they say, all hell broke loose!. Lava started flowing out of big cracks on the valley floor. Sometimes it was slow but sometimes it was a volcanic eruption. Eventually, it formed the North Ridge out of a solid rock called Basalt.
Basalt is the most common rock on earth but it leads to some very interesting things. Depending on how fast it cools, large columns can form. You can see an amazing example at Balancing Rock farther out the Neck.
Balancing Rock - spectacular basalt column

If the basalt cools really fast, as it tends to do near the edge and bottom where it contacts other rock, cracks and fissures can form. Since nature abhors a vacuum, superheated water containing something called silicates starts to be forced into them and as it cools, the silicates are precipitated out of the rock and form quartz and, more rarely, agates. That's what happened here from 250-200 million years ago and my next post will discuss this spectacularly beautiful rock/gemstone- agate. In my next post, I'll show you some beautiful examples of this stone and how we are making use of it in the shop.

In some places, gas bubbles got trapped in the rock as it cooled and they too filled with silicates but they tend to be only quartz- not agate.
quartz-filled air bubbles in basalt

Eventually, via continental drift, we separated from Africa and moved from the equator to where beautiful Digby Neck exists today. Large faults caused the breaks in the Neck which add to its beauty. Come and see it for yourself.    

Monday, 8 June 2015

Peter and Vickie's Excellent Adventure Continues.......

Welcome to our latest venture - The Artist's Mark Shop.

It is located in our amazing, 165 year-old home opposite sandy Seawall Beach on St. Mary's Bay in Rossway, Nova Scotia- right on designated scenic route #217.
Vickie has named her studio "The Artist's Mark" because we both feel that art is much more memorable when you can see the mark of the artist in it. Since most of what we will sell is Vickie's creative efforts, the name seemed to fit.
So what do we sell exactly?

We have hung a selection of Vickie's paintings- both large and small, framed and unframed. I'm trying to bully her into doing some representational pieces reflecting the beauty and uniqueness of Digby Neck but time will tell.
Vickie has created an amazing selection of necklaces, ear rings, bracelets and components. It is a beautiful collection of museum quality pieces and worth a trip just to see it. Many pieces include her
intricate copper metal work as well.

 Using limited edition fabrics, Vickie has created a line of bags that are as versatile as they are beautiful. A few years ago she made one for herself and was deluged by requests from her friends. The perfect bag for a day on Digby Neck (or any where else for that matter).

Daughter Sandra has a line called "The Other Side". It is made up of sculpture and some jewelry and is impossible to describe so you'll just have to see it for yourself. Let's just say that she sees the world through a very "special" lens. Sandra sells through her Etsy site but has given us a few pieces to display and sell.

Our other daughter, Lisa, creates awesome scarves, hats etc. from premium, limited edition wools. After last year's brutal winter, I can attest to their warmth and comfort. You'll love the beautiful sophisticated patterns and colours. To give you an idea, she made a hat for Sandra and when she wore it her friends were so impressed she was on the phone to her sister for about a dozen more!

I am, by degree, a geologist. In the next post, I'll tell you about the geology of Digby Neck and what we will be selling.