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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Heart's Desire

As I alluded to in my last post, I spent last Sunday afternoon learning something new. I didn't mention what it was to be, however. Allow me to blog on about something I am very passionate and excited about. It has been my heart's desire to learn cabbing for going on 15 years, so excuse me if I gush. Also, excuse my extreme blog fail for forgetting my camera.

As I have said, I met Randy on eBay when I bought a very nice cab from him. It turned out we are from the same area. After many emails and meets on a forum for all things rock, we met in person, at the local rock club. I was disappointed to learn that the last day to learn cabbing with the group was the day after the meet. I had to be in another city with the grandkids to attend the rare event of an open house at a particle accelerator-- I rarely miss a chance to explore anything science related. So, sadly I had to miss the cabbing. But, not to worry, Randy stepped in and offered to teach my husband and I. I almost literally jumped at the chance. Randy is known to be a great cabber and a very genuine all around nice guy. I'd be hard pressed to find such a great teacher!

The following Sunday, finally rolled around. I had spent the week eagerly anticipating the day. I felt pretty confident about it, but the saws did cause me some anxiety- this coming from someone who has actually used the jaws of life to peel open a car!! LOL!

We pulled up to Randy's house. Randy introduced us to his wife, daughter, puppy and snakes. We felt right at home and very welcome. I was relieved to feel so relaxed right off the bat. (As I've said before, I'm pretty shy and not a great people person. Hey, at least I know my faults, right?)  We chatted for awhile and saw some of the cabs and jewelry he had been working on. He is an OUTSTANDING wrapper. I very much like his style, which few do well, but when done well is the definition of delicate beauty. You can see some of his work here.

Randy, like all good rock junkies, has quite a stash of rocks. That was our next destination. He told me he had a lot, but I wasn't prepared for the motherload he had. Have you seen the movie, "Borat"? I felt like Borat going through the cheese aisle. What is this? And that? And this? This? My eye caught something interesting with every movement. They were everywhere! Oddly, one of my favorites was a plain white agate. I had never seen one before, but it was a clean, bright white agate, not quartz like, at all. But, he had some much coveted and lovely Victoria stone, too. That stuff is the bomb!

After being so horribly teased by all those rocks, I was ready to cut some up. So, we talked about tools and safety issues and I picked a slab (a thin slice) of Outback Jasper from Australia, which I had never seen before.It is really nice patterning and contrast.

First, we used a template to outline on the slab, with marker, the cab to be cut. I tried to pick 3 different looking patterns in the slab. One pattern was pretty cool, but ended up being sanded out. (Note to self...)

We then followed Randy to the saw used to rough out the cab. It is lubricated and kept cool by a basin of water. This is the one that I imagined would take off my fingers. However, the saw blade is safe to touch while running. I mean, you shouldn't do it, but if you were to accidentally bump it, you probably wouldn't lose a finger. I was a bit intimidated, nonetheless. I cut one and then the second was much easier. My husband jumped right in and had no reservations. He did a great job! Mine were so-so. But, the final forming wasn't done at this stage, anyway. (I would have inserted a picture here had I brought my camera.)

Our last destination was the cabbing machine. The one we used is called the Genie. There are 6 wheels and one on the end for final polishing with diamond paste. The idea is to work the cab shape down the grades of grit wheels to a final polish. This is the machine that I want to buy, there are others, but I am thinking this is the way to go.

The cabbing machine makes quick work of the job. I discovered that I will have to keep short nails to do this. I also learned that the wheels take off skin. Nothing too serious, though. It's also messy as it is done with wet wheels and a constant spray of water. I'm not made of sugar, so I won't melt.

I found out that doming a cab is way harder than it looks. My husband's cab has a nice dome. One of mine is rather flat and one is low, but domed. I also discovered a partially healed fracture in one of mine. I don't mind, though. It is my favorite one and I will be making it into a pendant to be proudly worn as my first cab.

Randy was an excellent teacher throughout the day. He was charming, informative, patient and interesting as hell. When we left, we were invited to come back, which we will be doing. Having been properly introduced to cabbing, I am now hopelessly addicted. I could have written all day about the adventure, but in deference to brevity, I'll just conclude with some pictures of our proud accomplishments.

The first two are mine, my husband's is last.

See the nice shine and bezels? :)

My favorite with a small fracture line.


My husband's- see his nice dome?




15 comments:

  1. Yes, this was exactly what I'd thought -- and hoped -- that you were going to do. I'm so excited for you!! Sounds like you learned a lot and had such a fantastic time. Awesome first pieces!

    I'll have to add cabbing to my list of things to try someday. Right up there with fusing glass to make glass cabs. :)

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    1. Thank you! We had a great time :) Yes, you totally need to try cabbing and fusing. It's really fun learning new things. Challenging, yes, but fun.

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  2. Tela and DH!! What a great adventure you both had. When do you purchase your saw and cabbing equipment? :) This is extra special that the two of you had this opportunity to discover this together. All three cabs are beveled so beautifully. Now we await to see the "Tela wrap treatment" on your new lovlies!!

    (Tela, I'm going to put away my crystal ball and now just watch the story unfold)

    ~Susan

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    1. Thanks so much! You knew it had to happen :) I was real happy that DH enjoyed it because our hobbies are very different. It'll be nice to spend that time with him.

      I finished one of the wraps yesterday, but I'm not terribly happy with it. I'm going to redo it. It's my favorite one and it will be mine, so I want it to suit me juuuuust right. :)

      Not sure yet when I'll be getting the tools, The Genie is pretty expensive. I'm looking for deals.

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  3. What a wonderful experience, Tela! Learning to cut cabs is on my list of things I must learn to do. Even though I've done shows at the Gem & Mineral clubs with my local rock hounds I've yet to dive in and try this. It would be great to involve my husband too. Enjoy your new skill!!

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    1. Thank you! I do hope you get to try it soon. It definitely requires some skill, but is not too hard to do or learn. Of course, I have just scratched the surface of what needs to be learned.

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  4. Wow, what a great and wonderful experience and learning lesson.

    Donna Geurin

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    1. Thanks, Donna! It really was awesome to finally get a chance to do it. :)

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  5. Thanks for sharing your new adventure and the beautiful results. I'm so glad it was everything you had hoped it would be, and more! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your pieces, before and after your wrapping.

    Joyce

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    1. Thanks Joyce!! I'll bet you can just see me with ideas floating in my head. I'm really excited about the prospect of cutting my own stones to suit the wraps that I imagine. This is going to be real fun. :)

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  6. Congratulations. I'm really excited for you. Your first efforts are a lot better than mine! It sounds like you got to work with some great equipment and a first class instructor. The lab I have access to is used by a lot of folks in my Gem and Mineral group and the equipment shows it. Our trim saws use a nasty mixture of oil and water to lubricate them so you end up smelling oily for days when you use the saw. Using just water would be wonderful.

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    1. Thank you, Kathy :) I didn't have a chance to use the oil saw. I'm in no hurry. I'm starting with using precut slabs and then I'll move into to doing my own slab cutting. That's where the oil comes in. Randy had a few that he showed us, but we didn't use them. We used the small tile saw to rough out the slabs/cabs. Those big saws look scary! But, like the tile saw, I was really amazed at how "dull" the blades are. Of course, they aren't really, but they have no teeth. Looked strange.

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  7. Wow, that's the coolest write-up anyone's ever done about me! I had a really great time as well, and I'm looking forward to this again. You and your husband are welcome here anytime!! Bikerandy

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    1. Hey Randy! :) Glad you popped over to see this. I would have written about your awesome bikes, but I'll leave that to a biker blog LOL! (Your daughter's bike alone would make a great blog entry!)Good luck with the show this weekend. :)

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  8. Hey Tela, Sorry to be so late in posting. I am so very excited for your cabbing experience. It sounds like Randy was the ideal teacher. You and your husband both did a great job. I see new tools in your future. Thank you so for sharing your excitement!

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