Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Cupboard is Bare! (Temporarily)

Just to let you know, last night we cleaned out virtually all of the hand dyed yarn to send out to Vancouver for the Knit City Trade Fair.
Vickie will be back on the 5th of October and we will know then the status of our inventory.
So if you want Seawall Fibres Hand Dyed Yarn between now and then, you'll just have to fly to Vancouver!
And for all you knitters, I'll be posting pics from our Knit City booth as I get them.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Rock Lab Has a Name

As you go through life, if you are fortunate, you get to meet some really interesting people and, happily, I've met my share. It's an added bonus when they are not only interesting but nice.

Since moving back to Nova Scotia, I've come across several, one being Vaughn Tidd.

Vaughn used to own the Whale Cove Campground further up The Neck and has been a "rock guy" all his life from the looks of it. Over the years he started doing more than just finding them and began acquiring lapidary equipment to be able to showcase the amazing beauty of the rocks found in Nova Scotia. A few years back, he decided to downsize and started selling some of his machines and I was fortunate enough to buy a trim saw and grinding arbor. Then, this year, I bought a larger (10 inch) saw and beautiful little rock tumbler and last week, Vickie and I drove over to the south shore where Vaughn now lives and come back with this nifty little flat lap.

A flat lap is a machine that allows you to grind and polish rock on a flat surface, using plates embedded with grits of different coarseness. I modified it a little by changing the water cooling delivery system and tried it out and it works great! I am really impressed. Also, I got the blade put back in the big saw and actually cut a few stones yesterday. It too works great.

So now the lab is complete with all the equipment needed to do what I want to do with the beautiful material we are finding but it was still missing something important- a name!

Coming up with a really good name is not the easiest thing in the world. It has to reflect what goes on and also, hopefully, the personality of the person inside and I think I've found the perfect name for it. I give you:

Now some who know me might say, "Oh isn't that nice- he named it for Vickie", but while I'll take the compliment, it's not the case. Whenever I have bought equipment from Vaughn, I have always said that he was free to drop by and use it since I know that it is really hard to give something like this up totally.

So my little man cave will henceforth be known as the VT ROCK LAB in recognition of the guy who made it possible- Vaughn Tidd. And I hope that by hanging this over the door, Vaughn will feel comfortable to come by and use his equipment any time he wants. And I hope that you too will want to come by and see what a well equipped lapidary shop looks like and some of the beautiful things it can produce.

And speaking of beautiful things, one of the pieces I came away from Vaughn's with is this beautiful amethyst crystal which he had found on The Neck.

I actually used the new flat lap to clean off the faces and now will continue to smooth the facets and polish it up really nice because it is going to someone special who really likes amethyst- my daughter Lisa.

It is a standing family joke that every time Lisa comes here, she looks for a piece of amethyst and never finds any, even when we "seed" the area. So perhaps this will fill the void.

Although we are very busy gearing up for Knit City at the end of the month, I will be staying here except for when I drive Vickie to and from the airport so the shop will be closed Sept. 27-8 and October 4th. Other than that, we will be open regular hours or longer if we are here.

We are so excited to be able to present our gorgeous yarn to such a large piece of the knitting community andI'll be posting some shots of our booth at Knit City when they are available.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

My Best One Yet?

A few years ago I cut a stone that had sort of a chevron pattern in it and I thought it might make a nice pendant.
Imagine my surprise when I cut it and the chevron pattern was replaced by this:

In about 5 cms. it had become a beautiful example of fortification agate with a little druzy of quartz in the center. This is why I love cutting good quality agate because all the patterns are three dimensional. That is, they will constantly change as you go through the stone. To see this, all you have to do is hold it up to the light.

The patterns are amazingly complex and 5 cms. further in it will be totally different again. I'm just happy I cut it in this particular plane.
I am in a "cutting" phase right now so will be posting a lot of pretty pictures next week.
It's a cool grey day here on The Neck but no wind. We are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irma which is approaching our daughter Lisa who lives in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. From the looks of it, a lot of people are going to feel its effects and it couldn't come at a worse time for her because she's dying as much as possible to get ready for Knit City at the end of the month.
So wherever YOU are, we hope you are healthy and happy and not facing stormy days ahead.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Beautiful New Piece

Since I got my clean bill of health from the doc on Thursday, I've been really busy in the rock shop. New shelves have gone up and the machines have been humming.
One of the things Vickie has wanted to do is create jewelry pieces with a "live edge".
Woodworkers will be familiar with this since it's common to leave a natural edge on things like tables and mantles- basically leaving the wood as it was cut with little or no shaping or sanding.
The same can be done with rock if you get the right piece and in our latest haul there were several such pieces.
So Vickie gave me a shape to work to and here's the result.

The botryoidal patterns are truly amazing and now Vickie will design a setting to hold the stone.
Wharf Rat Rally this weekend and then things should slow down.
I have one more load to do in the big tumbler and about 6 in the small so they should be all done by the end of October and then I will just concentrate on cutting, grinding and getting all the machines ready for next summer.
It is a beautiful time of the year here on Digby Neck so if you are in the mood for a vacation or even a day trip, drop by and see us. We usually stay open regular hours to the end of October but after that we are open with reduced hours until the end of the year. So if you are looking for a truly unique gift, we probably have it.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Closed Tomorrow

Due to a change in a doctor appointment, the shop will be closed tomorrow.
Sorry for the late notice.
We will be open at 9 am on Friday.
See you soon!

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Wisdom of Listening To Your Wife

Every once in a while, you should listen to your wife.
Wait, it is often good to listen to your wife.
OK Vickie, a husband should ALWAYS listen to his wife!
Can I get my keys to the rock shop back now???

One such occasion was during a recent trip to nearby Gulliver's Cove on The Bay of Fundy. Gulliver's is a beautiful spot and there is a spectacular look out as well.

Gulliver's at Low Tide
 We decided to try out my new hip and see if I could get down to the coves. The hip worked great and we got down to an area where we had previously found some nice agate.
One Of Our Favourite Spots

Vickie Hard at Work With Her Personal Geologist's Pick (Thanks Jonathan)
Eventually Vickie found a seam of chalcedony that looked quite rotten so I told her not to bother. After all, I'm a highly trained geologist and I KNOW what is usable.
She bothered and got a few pieces since I told her just to take a few.
We lugged everything home and were going through it when I said "You might as well throw this out because I can't do anything with it." She demanded-yes DEMANDED- that I at least cut one piece. So to preserve my perfect record of one year marriage contracts, I did. And while the outside was so rotten it broke as soon as it got near the saw blade, here's what was inside:

Gorgeous Chalcedony With Beautiful Botryoidal Patterning
Of course I had to cab a couple up to see how they finished and, as you can see, they finished up pretty darned nice. So I spent the rest of the day cutting rotten chalcedony and getting some superb material.

Naturally, I gunked up my saw pretty good so I'll have to clean it up and change the oil before I can cut MY stuff but hey, an unblemished record of marriage contracts makes it worth it!

ALWAYS listen to your wife!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Best From Nature

As I mentioned, our friends John and Nancy Hood from Scotia Gems  ( stopped by last week to deliver some large slabs John had cut for me. They also left two beautiful pendants that John had set in silver for us to sell in the shop.

This is a gorgeous piece of Nova Scotia Crazy Lace Agate with a beautiful area of Fortification Agate and a small topaz at the bottom on a really nice silver chain- spectacular!

This is just so unique! It is a piece of Nova Scotia Agate including native copper! The little blotches on the silver setting are just a lighting issue and this photo really doesn't do it justice- a true one of a kind!

John and Nancy are a very interesting couple. Not only are they true rock hounds, John is an amazing jeweler and they also keep a lot of bees on their farm which Nancy turns into the most wonderful non-pasteurized honey.

Having enjoyed it for several years, I personally can attest to the fact it IS The bees best! So if you are local you should check it out  if they have any left!

That's it for now. Hope to see you soon!

Friday, 25 August 2017

Beautiful New Slabs In The Shop

Our friends John and Nancy Hood from Scotia Gems dropped by yesterday and we were able to top up our supply of Bees Best Honey that comes from their hives. (It really is the best the bees make!)
John also brought the slabs he had cut for me. Regular readers of the blog know that I now have a 10 inch saw to go with my 6 inch trim saw but John has a much larger saw on his farm and as they say in lapidary- size matters!
Here is just some of the haul:

This is a beautiful slab of porcelain/crazy lace agate with quartz druzys that John found in the New Minas area.

This was a gift from John- a piece of Feather Agate- an agate formed when silicate replaces a fossil of foraminifera, a small sea creature.

 Beautiful agate slab shown lit from the front.

Same slab lit from the back

Another great slab lit from the front

Same slab lit from the back- Awesome!

We are going to be making some unique stands for these pieces over the winter and they will be in the shop by next spring at the latest.

John and Nancy also left two beautiful stone and silver pendants he created for us to sell and they are both unique and beautiful. I'd show pictures but I think I'll do a whole post on them tomorrow so check back then!

Look forward to seeing you soon. Cheers!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Bounty From New Tumbler

I have been working with my Lot-O-Tumbler 4 pound vibrating tumbler for about 2 weeks and have been promising to show some of the results so here they are:

There are some absolutely beautiful pieces of jasper, crazy lace, fortification and conglomerate agate and chalcedony. I even put in a few of the slices I had cut and they turned out great!
At some point, Vickie gets to choose which she wants for jewelry and then the rest either get sold as specimens or end up in the free rock box so if you come by, you may get to leave with a beautiful piece of Digby Neck. believe me, these stones are even more beautiful when you are holding them!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Special Visitors to the Shop

How bad is the postal service? I'll tell you.
It's a wet, windy, foggy day here on The Neck- the quintessential Nova Scotia day. But it was the perfect day for Karen to show up and collect her prize! Karen first learned about our yarn from an on-line knitting friend, Jan, who had stopped by the store while on vacation. Jan has been a big supporter and in fact is now one of our test knitters.
A few weeks back, Seawall Fibres, our hand dyed yarn enterprise, had a contest and the winner turned out to be a lady from Michigan. When we contacted her, she said, "Don't bother shipping it, I'll come and pick it up!"
Talk about not trusting the postal system!
Actually, that's all a little joke. Turns out she was planning a trip to Nova Scotia before she even won so this gave her added incentive to come to Digby.
Here's what she won:

This is a skein of our Rutilated Amethyst and if you want one, it's available in our Etsy shop.

It actually worked out perfectly because her other half, Mike, had done a bit of lapidary so while the girls talked yarn, we talked rocks! Mike has a standing invitation to join me in the rock barn/ man cave any time he wants since it turns out he is an award winning beer maker! My kind of tourist!
So thanks Karen and Mike for dropping by and brightening a pretty gloomy day!

Karen is actually wearing the shawl that Vickie just finished designing and that Jan will soon be test knitting and Mike is holding the beautiful piece of crazy lace agate he's taking back for his rockhound friend.
I gotta get me one of those shirts!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Mystery Rock

So today I am asking for your help.
Yesterday, I was cutting some rock in the shop and here is one that I cut open.

It is about 5 cm x 3 cm and the inclusions are between 0.5 and 1.5 cm. It is definitely a silicate bit apart from that, the only thing I can think of is some sort of chalcedony that might have inclusions that were formed by gas or H2O replacement.
It is absolutely beautiful and I'm going to try and cut two slabs to make pendants because I know it will polish beautifully.
As someone used to say on TV, "The truth is out there!"
Also just finishing a second lot from my new (old) tumbler and there is some beautiful material in it. I'll post some pics tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Lapidary Life

Working with rock is very rewarding and at times, even exciting. But there is also a lot of hard work.
Yesterday, I spent several hours taking apart my new (very old) slab saw that I have previously posted pictures of on the blog. We are talking a cast iron beast over 50 years old! Anyway, I got the top off and there was rock "gunk" up to near the bottom of the blade in the coolant reservoir so it all had to be cleaned out and to do that, I had to remove the blade. After that, I had to clean the top and the plastic cover (originally, this was so dirty you couldn't see inside!).
So here are the results to date:

The sledge hammer is serving as a counterweight to offset the weight of the motor while the top is detached from the base. And while the blade still has a bit of life left, I may put a new one in while it is apart.
Today, it is raining very heavily (but the shop is open) and I had to strap on all my rain gear to brave the elements and wash my rocks from the tumbler.

I am now at the pre-polish stage with the second lot and there is some absolutely beautiful stones in the load- lots of porcelain and crazy lace. They should be done by Tuesday.
Since the weather is so bad, we probably won't have as many people as usual stopping by so it's a perfect day to do some cutting on the trim saw and some specimen finishing.
Enjoy your day and if you want to stop by, I won't mind.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Catch of the Day

I like grinding and polishing and tumbling agate but I LOVE cutting it! You never really know what you're going to get.
This little stone was only about one inch by 2 inches but when I made the first cut, I knew I had to get as much as possible.

There is a beautiful contrast between the peach and dark brown and the last two pieces even have a little area of amethyst at the top.

So after we took this shot, I was able to cut one more section. I ended up with three beautiful sections for "The Boss" and one nice end piece for me that I decided to tumble in my new tumbler.
And speaking of the tumbler, here's a pic of some of the stuff I got in my first batch.

There are some beautiful examples of several types of agate and now I will sort them. Some will no doubt end up in our "free rock" box so if you stop by, you can take home a beautiful piece of the neck!
See you soon!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Natural Beauty of Digby Neck

My surroundings on Digby Neck are truly inspiring in their beauty and the last few days have certainly highlighted this fact. All week we have seen a fisher (mink like mammal) around the house and in the marsh. We often see mink and beaver as well but the fisher was cause for concern because it will kill just about anything- including porcupines!
So I was a little worried about the Great Blue Herons who nest in the marsh next to the house. Turns out my worries were for naught because this morning dawned grey and foggy- the quintessential Nova Scotia morning and as we were having our coffee on the deck, Vickie used her phone to snap this picture of five! herons fishing for their breakfast.

It's a little grainy but take my word for it, we counted five!
But apart from all the wild life, we have so much natural beauty, not only in the topography but in the rocks that make it.
Yesterday I worked on an amazing piece of agate that Vickie found last year. The "neck" in Digby Neck is a basalt massif that runs from New Minas to Brier Island. Cracks form in the basalt (an igneous rock) as it cools and silicate solutions flowing through those cracks (or faults) form seams of various types of agate. Here is a gorgeous example.

These pieces are about 3 inches long and are awesome since they have the same general shape as Digby Neck itself! They are fortification agate so in many spots, they give the appearance of being a topographical map of the area with the basalt beingthe Bay of Fundy and St. Mary's Bay. The red colour is a little band of hematite that frames the agate on both sides.
I now have 4 nice slices that I can turn over to Vickie to make 4 ideal Digby Necklaces that will be available in the shop soon and I have one nice specimen piece for sale. So if you want a souvenir to remind you about the neck- this amazing part of Nova Scotia- this is it! I know it is unlikely that we will ever find another piece like it so these pieces will be truly unique!
Tall ships are here for one more day so we hope to see you soon.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Busy Day in The Rock Shop

Colleen Collins is a new arrival to "The Neck" and has opened a Yoga facility in Freeport. She hosts retreats and individual sessions and if you want to know more, go to

She asked if we could do up some pendants to give to attendees at her upcoming retreat and we were happy to oblige so here is today's output.

All the stones are local and all the wire wrapping and clasps are hand done by Vickie. There is a beautiful selection of porcelain/ crazy lace/ fortification agates and jasper.

We are moving into high gear on the jewelry front and have some absolutely beautiful stones to work with so if this is an area that interests you, come on by. I might even be able to show you how I work the stones in the rock shop.

See you soon.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Birds!

With everything else going on around here, we sometimes take the birds for granted. We have our resident "murder" of crows who keep us company all winter as long as we feed them after a blizzard. The gulls, too, are resident and it is wonderful waking up to their cries. The cormorants are fair weather friends but at least when they arrive you know the cold temperatures are finished.
This morning as I went down to make coffee for "She Who MUST Be Obeyed" I noticed that things were a little different. Usually the gulls and cormorants are duking it out for the best spot on what's left of the pier but not today!
The Big Kahuna was in town!

Couldn't get a very good shot of this guy but trust me, it's a bald eagle and it gets to perch wherever it wants.

In the marsh next door, I counted four Great Blue Herons catching their breakfast in the morning fog.

This guy had caught his limit and took off shortly after the picture was taken but the other three were there for some time.

We also have several species of hawks, songbirds and a family of ring necked pheasants who take great delight in scaring the crap out of you when you don't know they are there!

Digby Neck is truly a special place and I hope you get a chance to visit soon.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Rock Shop Expands!

Had a visit from my friend Vaughn Tidd who used to operate Whale Cove Campground. Vaughn has been finding beautiful rocks and doing lapidary work for years but now he's moving into a beautiful apartment overlooking the harbour in downtown Digby.
Good for him!
Over the years, Vaughn has put together a shop with first rate equipment but it's now time for him to let it go and I appreciate it's not easy.
A while back I bought a trim saw/ grinding wheel and grinding arbor from him and am having a lot of fun turning out some beautiful stones. Now I have added a few missing components.

 This is a Mercury 10 inch slab saw made in the middle of the last century in Edmonton, Alberta. It is a real workhorse and will allow me to cut larger slabs which have proven very popular in the shop. The lower picture shows the motor that causes the stone to move automatically through the blade (important since cutting large rocks is a slow business).

This is a Calway (Lot-O-Tumbler) 4 pound vibrating rock tumbler that is perfect for polishing agate and jasper. As I get older, tumbling 40 pounds at a time becomes a bit of a chore so this baby is going to get a lot of work this winter and with the stones I have ready to go, we will have some beautiful stuff in the shop come spring.

So now I have a pretty complete lapidary shop.

That's the old Mercury Arbor across from the Mercury slab saw and the tumbler on the floor (temporarily). So now I can start with a pretty large stone, cut slabs, trim them, grind them, sand them, polish them and if necessary drill them so if you have ever wanted to see this done, drop on by!
And one last thing- if you see another guy in there, it will be Vaughn because while I bought the equipment, I've told him to come by any time and use it because I know how hard it will be for him to stop.
Look forward to seeing you on "The Neck".