Sunday, October 14, 2007

How to Cut Rocks (The first step to making a cabochan)

Okay so I have joined my local lapidary club also know as the Summit County Lapidary and Gem Society. (in conjunction with the Akron Mineral Society they are holding a huge rock and gem show the last weekend in October. If you are in town and interested in this kind of thing you should definitely check it out. Just leave me a comment and I will be happy to give the details. If I have time I will blog the details sometime next week This is in Akron, Ohio)

Anyway I am learning to take the raw form of the rock and turn
it into a finished cabochon. This is what you start out with. Actually first you have to go to the quarry or mine (This one is quartz from a quarry about 20 minutes from my house) and find the stones that you want to use. Be prepared, bring LOTS of water, not only is it hot, thirsty work but you need several bottles of water to squirt on your rocks to get rid of dirt and see what they might look like when they have a shine.

This particular stone on the left is a fossil stone that one of the more experienced rock club members pointed out to me. (Okay he pretty much gave it to me because I would have stepped right over it even with him giving me lots of hints lol!) Any way I am pretty excited about this one and hope to get many good pieces to work with out of it.
So once you have your stones (did I mention how heavy they are to carry back to the car? I ended up with a laundry basket full of them) you need to wash them off and decide which ones to start with. Then it is time to start cutting them up. This is one
of the slabbers at the rock club. Pretty simple to use. You do have to make sure that the rock is clamped down extremely well because it would be a VERY BAD THING if one came loose while being sawed. They have templates that allow you to measure how thick you want each piece (not computerized or anything you hold the template up to the saw and move the rock over to match lol). Any way you set your chain so it stops automatically and you close the lid and turn it on. That's all there is to it. Oh and you want to wear old clothes and a full body vinyl or plastic apron. Did I mention how much oil these machines use? Never, never open the lid until the saw stops spinning! So once it stops spinning and you give it a couple of minutes to let all of the oil drip back down to the bottom (you do this as many times as you need
to slab all of your rock and this is what you end up with. After you
clean the oil off (kitty litter works great for this) and then you wash them thoroughly.
As you can see we still have some work to do to make these slabs of rock into something pretty and interesting to wear. I am going to continue with this next week at some point and show you what the next step is.
Can you see the possibilities?!
P.S No puppies yet. She looks like she is going to explode poor thing. Will update as we go.

1 comment:

Caelista said...

What a fascinating post! Thanks for describing the process. I look forward to seeing what comes out of it.