Monday, 30 April 2018

My New Hi-Tech Slant Lap

Well, the new toy has arrived and after regrettably divesting myself of a few other toys, I now have space for it in the shop. I am not going to post a "How To" video since there are good ones on You Tube and the Hi-Tech web site but if there is interest, I might do another post showing how I use it to shape cabs. In the meantime, here it is "in situ" as we geologists say:

One thing I am going to show you is a trick I came up with for centering the diamond laps and pads perfectly on the backer plates since they have to be assembled. I was pretty worried that I might screw it up and get it off centre so I came up with a foolproof plan. Actually, since it worked perfectly for me four times in a row, we can probably upgrade that to idiot proof!
The backer plate has a hole and I started with a wooden dowel that was just slightly smaller. I am pretty sure it was a nominally half inch dowel but my caliper said it was exactly 0.43 inches. I then used black electricians tape to build it up until it fit snugly in the hole but didn't need to be jammed. This turned out to be a diameter of 0.48 inches. I had previously cut it to be about 2 inches long and here it is:

I then placed the backer plate on a flat surface with the face to be bonded to the lap pad facing up.

I placed the dowel in the hole and then cleaned the plate using a clean soft paint brush I stole from my artist/wife (who, hopefully, will never read this).

After taking the backing paper off the glued side of the pad, I applied pressure at two points on the edge to create a slight "U" shape.

And then I slowly lowered it down onto the dowel until the lowest part of the pad was touching the backer plate and pressed it down, working from the centre out.

In each case, my pad was slightly larger than the backer pad but the excess was perfectly uniform so will not be a problem. The holes match up perfectly.
For those of you who might want to add the foam pad as a cushion, I tried using the dowel to locate the hole properly (there was no hole on my pads). I simply put the cushion pad underneath a backer plate, put chalk on the end of my dowel and lowered it through the hole until it made contact with the foam and then turned it about 90 degrees. When I removed the dowel from the hole, the result was a perfect chalk circle which I could then cut with an exacto knife.
I hope this is of some use to someone and will shortly be showing you the results from this machine. But I also want to say a few words about the machine itself. First, every aspect is sturdily built. Secondly, since I will be doing a lot of cabbing on it, it was important to me because of my leg problems that I could sit comfortably and be able to see the stone from the side when shaping. The 8 inch Hi-Tech slant lap is perfect for me on both counts. If I could improve it in any way I would increase the size of the water reservoir. I will do so by dripping water into the reservoir from my own home built water tower. Also, I would include a holder for the Allen wrench as I had on my last lap so it had less chance to disappear.
And one disclaimer, I am not associated with the manufacturer in any way and, unfortunately, paid full retail for my unit.
But it was worth every penny!
Message or email me if you have any questions or observations and if you happen to get lost and end up on Digby Neck in Nova Scotia Canada, stop in and I'll show you it working in person!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Closed For a Few Days

Just a brief post to let you know that we will be closed from the end of today- Friday the 20th- to the beginning of Friday the 27th of April but to make your visit worthwhile, here's a pic of a beautiful piece of Bay of Fundy flame agate.

Here it is lit from the front to show the patterning and great little sparkling druzy in the centre. And here it is backlit to show the patterning and translucency.

Pretty amazing stuff, huh? I have 5 nice sized pieces to play with.

Also, for anyone interested, there is a really nice article on us in the Business Section of the on-line version of the Digby Courier. Check it out! It will appear in print next week.
Hope to see you soon!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Hi-Tech Slant Lap On The Way

Well, I finally pulled the trigger.

Since I got my 6 inch flat lap, I have had so much fun that I have been wondering if I should get a bigger one. They are not cheap and I AM 72 years old but I have been dieting and doing my exercises so chances are pretty good that I can get a year or two at least out of it. Besides, Vickie has told me that if I croak, she will just give it to Raul, our pool boy. Waaaiiit a minute- we don't have a pool!

Anyway, the deed is done and I have ordered the Hi-Tech 8 inch Slant Lap (basically a flat lap turned on its side a bit). Here's what it looks like.

With this machine, I can do everything from fairly coarse grinding (180 grit) to fine (I bought an extra 8,000 grit plate) and then polish with the polishing lap and any polish I care to use (probably a mix of cerium and tin oxide).

Don't know yet whether I will sell my 6 inch flat lap or have it set up at a specific grit to speed things up. If I don't sell it, I will probably sell my Lortone combination trim saw/ grinder or Rock Rascal trim saw/grinder. So if you are interested in some really good used equipment, let me know.

It is still quite cold here (about freezing) but warmer weather has to come soon! Stay tuned for some really great rock pics!


Thursday, 12 April 2018

Rock Shop Back in High Gear

Yesterday, I spent about 5 hours in the shop. I got the tumbler going and managed to cut some slabs into shapes that I will do a final forming on later today. I have several beautiful pieces of moss agate and this one even has a druzy as well.

The black lines are where "The Artist Who MUST be obeyed" wants me to work to. It will take about two weeks to finish this and then I will post pics. The colours and patterns are so rich and vivid that I know this is going to be a really exceptional piece.
I was also able to glue two smaller pieces to wood so they can be cut and I just had to cut a piece Vickie found recently. Here's how it looked on the outside:

When you see conchoidal fractures like that you know you are dealing with high quality stuff so I was interested to see the patterning in the direction I wanted to cut and here it is:

There is a lot of hematite in this stone but it is still like glass on the surface so it should take a really good polish.
The yarn shipment arrived yesterday and we are in the process of labeling it so it will be on the shelves by the weekend for all you addicts (you know who you are!)
Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Perfection is Boring

My goal is not to create perfect, beautiful pieces.

My goal is to create interesting, even unusual pieces.

To that end, I often use stones that have cracks and pits as long as I am sure there is no lack of integrity or "fatal flaw" that will cause the stone to break. That is why also, from time to time you can see tool marks in my wire and it may not be absolutely straight.

But I have one rule- Don't work with boring rock!

My two latest pieces bear this out. Both stones are local and both have pits and cracks. But both are super interesting. The first is a piece that packs a lot into its 4 cms of length.

As you can see, it has a crack and I have left two natural edges but it has beautiful green, copper and yellow colouring, areas of clear quartz, fortification agate and brecciated (broken) jasper. I have used an abstract copper wrap with a reddish copper ball to pick up the colour and I can assure you that the person who buys it will spend a lot of time looking at it!

The second piece is also very interesting.

I call this piece Lapis Lignum Polaris because it is actually a piece of petrified wood (lapis lignum) with a little surprise at about 11 o'clock- a small, shiny Polaris (north star) which is actually a cube of pyrite (fools gold) that itself has been broken by pressure at some point and the crack filled with silicate. I have used a wire wrap designed by me to showcase this unusual 4.5 cm stone- cracks, pits and all! Another interesting feature is that you can plainly see remnants of the wood cell structure that has been replaced by several different silicate varieties. Again, the new owner is going to really want to study this piece.

I am back in the shop! Tumbler is tumbling and I will be doing a lot of cutting with the trim saw and glue a couple of other pieces to wooden blocks so they can be cut tomorrow.

Expecting a yarn shipment today so we will have new colours on the shelf before the weekend.

Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Boss of The Moss

For a brief period in my life, I was a golf professional. I wasn't very good- hence the adjective "brief" and even though I haven't played for close to a decade, I still follow the game. This is Masters Sunday, a special day for all golfers, as it is the culmination of the Masters Golf Tournament from Augusta Georgia. In honour of this, and since my latest piece features a really nice local moss agate, I am naming it "The Boss of the Moss" after one of the best putters ever- Loren Roberts- who was so good that in 1985, a fellow competitor gave him that nickname (one I think is the best ever).

This stone was found virtually across the street and was originally round. After I had run it through the tumbler, the deal is I show all the rocks to Vickie (She who MUST be Obeyed!) and she takes the ones she wants for jewelry. This one she asked me to cut in half and drill and so of course, it got cut and drilled. We then used a balled copper wire to do a cool "funky wrap"at the top and put it on a waxed cotton cord with a copper clasp and now it is, with apologies to Mr. Roberts, The Boss of the Moss.
When viewed with light behind, a very interesting pattern shows up. A lot of people think that moss agates are green in white but, in truth, they can be many colours as long as the patterning is organic.

All in all, a very interesting local stone.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Back on The Bench

The nice rockhounding weather of the past few days left yesterday afternoon. In fact, last night we had high winds, snow, freezing rain, ice pellets and finally rain. Then this morning, we were back to wet snow.
It was time to move indoors and finish some pieces and what better stone to work on than a piece from Brazil! I felt warmer just touching the stone (heh,heh)- a nice piece of crazy lace jasper.
For the last few days, I have been experimenting with a totally new (at least to us) technique for setting stones using only copper wire and after a few failures, it worked!

If the stone looks familiar, it is because I did a similar piece with a different setting a few months back. Remember this:

As I said, the setting is unique, and allows me to use finer wire (in this case 20 gauge) and still have the stone snugly and firmly set. I took a picture of the back and if anyone reading the blog is interested, if you ask nicely I will send it to you via email.

On the yarn front, sales have been pretty brisk over the last week or so but we are expecting a large shipment early next week so the shelves will be fully stocked and with some new colours!

Cheers and hope to see you soon!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Another Nice Piece of Bay of Fundy Agate

It is really cold here today but Vickie, the lady with The Agate Eye, was not to be deterred. She managed to come home with this beauty!

The patterning was so amazing that I had to cut it and here is the thin end section.

The rest of the cut stone looks like this.

So now I will glue this face to a piece of 2x4 so I can cut quarter inch slices. Pretty interesting.

Keeping Touch With School Friends
Don't know about you but I really enjoy staying in contact with people I went to school with. One of them, Apryll, lives in the U.S. now and follows my blog and recently she contacted me about a piece she had seen. She is now the proud (I hope!) owner of said piece and was kind enough to send me some pics.
Here's Apryll wearing the piece:

And here's a close up of the piece:

Personally, I think she makes a really nice piece of Mexican Crazy Lace Agate look even better!
I really enjoy making pieces like this but it's really great when I can send one to a friend.

And by the way, some have asked if they can buy stuff they see on the blog and the answer is yes- if you are prepared to pay shipping. And if you don't pay for insurance, your beef is with the post office, not me. I will say that everything I have shipped to date has arrived quickly and undamaged.

Hopefully, later this year we will be selling through the Seawall Fibres website which is "under construction"

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Back on The Beach

Well, the weather is improving- s l o w l y !!
But it's good enough to go looking for some rocks and work in the rock lab a bit..
I am very fortunate in that I have a wife who is gifted with "The Agate Eye". This is not to be confused with "The Evil Eye" although I'm pretty sure she has that gift as well. Vickie can literally smell agate. This first piece was in a creek bed with just a few dull inches showing at the surface. Imagine her surprise when she extricated it, turned it over and found this:

This piece actually has sections of different agate including plume, moss and fortification and areas of what I think is carnelian. It has a surface consistency of glass so it should polish amazingly but it is too big to cut on my trim saw so it will have to wait until I get the slab saw going.
But we wanted to cut something so we chose a couple of smaller pieces we found a few days ago. The first one is a little macrocrystalline but has some nice patterning.

But the next one is a real show stopper!

The picture doesn't really show the depth of colour and it isn't polished but this is going to be really nice when it is finished.
So if you like hunting for rocks, Digby Neck is a pretty good spot. And if you are in the area, come on by The Artist's mark and see some of the pieces we have collected and polished up. Everybody gets to pick a free polished stone so one way or another, you will go home with "A Piece of the Neck"!