Saturday, 30 September 2017

Knit City 2017 Set Up Day

As you know, the shelves are bare in the yarn section of the shop as Lisa and Vickie are out in Vancouver for the big knitting trade show- Knit City 2017.
On Thursday they got the various props they needed for the booth and yesterday at noon they were able to start setting up. here's how the booth looked when they got there.
Vickie assembling a display unit.
After the displays went up, they started putting up some of the yarn and finished goods.
Lisa doing up tags.
The show runs two days and apart from the regular colours they will be featuring Vickie's hand painted sock blanks and a commemorative colour dyed just for the show. Here it is.

And here is one of Vickie's hand painted sock blanks:

Believe it or not, knitters actually take these things apart and knit them and when they do they get two identical socks. But several of the people I have shown them to say that they would just hang them on the wall as art!
We'll keep you posted as to what is going on.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Dirty Side of Lapidary

I really enjoy working with my machines but every once in a while, you have to do a repair and/or cleanup. Today was the day.
My 200 grit wheel on the old Mercury grinding arbor had gotten nicked somehow and it had actually become dangerous to use.
Wheel on the left is nicked on the left edge
That meant taking apart the whole arbor and essentially rebuilding it. The first problem is getting the wheels off the shaft.

To do this, I used an old lapidary trick. Basically, you stand the shaft on end and pound it into the floor (so much for the precision instrument image, huh?). Eventually I got it all off and was able to clean the pan.

It is absolutely amazing to me how much garbage you get when grinding rock but when you clean it like this, you find the beautiful little pieces that you cursed over when they came off.
It took me most of the day but here's how it looks now:

So now the 200 grit wheel is gone (it will be replaced by a new 220 grit diamond wheel on my Lortone unit) and in its place is a 600 grit wheel (to replace the 600 grit sanding wheel on the Lortone).
So now, on this one machine, I have 400, 600 1200, 3000 and 8000 grit wheels, a leather polishing lap on the right end and a 12,000 grit flat lap on the left end. I also replaced the drive belt on the motor and that soft purring sound you hear in the background is how it sounds now.
Everything is relative and while I think the above machine is perfect, that's where Carey Serhan at Black Mountain Artisans STARTS! What he does when he reconditions a machine is truly amazing and you should check out his facebook page under Black Mountain Artisans.
So tomorrow, I'll be tackling my little Rock Rascal trim saw with the 100 grit grinding wheel. Here's the before pic.
You will probably not see much of a difference here because it is mostly changing the oil coolant and dressing the blade a little. I will probably change the belt on this unit as well.
Vickie being in Vancouver makes it a perfect time to do this because I can get myself (and the towels) as dirty as I want. (heh,heh)

Friday, 22 September 2017

Necessity (Or Laziness) is The Mother of Invention

Now that the rock Lab is all set up and has a name, I realized that it was going to be a pain moving my water drip cooling system around to the 3 machines that would need it. The idea of just getting a really long tube to reach them all was briefly considered but deemed impractical so I had to get innovative. Fortunately, two of the machines are side by side so I just needed one more system. But a new Lortone tower was going to cost me $54+ tax and shipping and those who know me are well aware of my "frugal" nature and would quickly realize that this was out of the question.
So I had to use a combination of outright thievery and McGyverism to come up with a solution. I give you the Turner Advance Lapidary Cooling System (TALCS for short- a little bit of lapidary humour there):

The drip bag I stole from Vickie. At some point she needed it for some kind of medical condition but she looks just fine to me now so I didn't feel bad taking it. I already had the pipe, funnel and tubing so all that was required was a trip to Canadian Tire to buy an $8 shut off valve fitting. While there, I also purchased a socket driver set that I'd had my eye on at 70% off (how do they DO that?) and went next door to buy some wine in case Vickie found out about the bag.
I set it all up and voila! It leaked like a sieve!! So I took the fitting apart and used more plumber's tape and voila #2- it works perfectly and doesn't leak. I left the full bag overnight and the tray was bone dry this morning.
So I would say that the VT Rock Lab is now fully operational.
Just a reminder to the knitters that the shelves are BARE so don't disturb my lapidary work until Vickie comes back from Knit City in Vancouver on the 5th.

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.