Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day Two With My New Man

First off, before I forget- I have a picture of that cool face in the stone that I talked about last post. I had forgotten that I took a picture of it before it was cut. I inadvertently made it an "ugly stone" but it didn't start out that way.

See the face in the corner? Or, maybe skull?
I should have known better than to try to cut that.

Today was day two with Gene, which I am now calling him. (He is definitely not a she. Too much horsepower.) He's the new man in my life. The weird thing is DH doesn't seem to mind. That's good cause we're spending an awful lot of time together.

I have counted the number of cabs that I have worked to date. 10. Yes, 10. Today, on cab number 10, another plume agate, I had an epiphany. It all started to make sense and come together for me. Mind you, that only means that I can now pretend to know what I am doing. I'm still eons away from being accomplished, by any measure, but I do feel as if I am on the right track.

To recap, I have done the 2 Outback jasper with Randy. I did the tiger iron, also with Randy's help. I did the 2 graveyard plume agates, to break Gene in, and the tornado jasper yesterday. Today, I did a special red jasper, a green jasper/agate, an Oregon jasper and the last, number 10, plume agate.

A piece of Red Jasper from Washington State

Here it is all finished

This shined up beautifully!

There is a story behind this stone. I rock friend Susan, whom I mentioned before, and I were discussing how there aren't many really red stones. She found this in her stash and sent it to me. So, I am going to wrap this up and send it back. :) (Hope she isn't reading this.)

This one worked up beautifully and has a shine even better than the agates. Unfortunately, at the next to the last wheel (1200 grit) some tiny little pits started to show. They are barely noticeable, though. Still, I am most pleased with this.

I finished the green jasper/agate, too.


This is a good example of before and after. I lost the curvy sides and the coloration changed as I sanded down the face or "got into the rock". It became a kite. This was tough to polish well because the material is of different harnesses.

I did an unnamed Oregon Jasper. I have a slab of this pretty stuff and was dying to try it out. It took a beautiful shine.

And, here is my last stone for the day, I'm calling it "Number 10" Plume Agate. :) This went like clockwork. It cabbed up real quick and took an awesome polish.

Maybe, I should have turned that around. It would probably look better that way. :) There was a tiny vug (a natural void) in the stone that wasn't evident before I began to grind. It is small and on the bezel, so I will be able to cover it when I use it.

My mailman (yes, he's a man) brought more boxes for me today. I think of him as Santa now. :) I got lots of yummy slabs and a special, special treat.

Natural Willow Creek Jasper Heart
I was looking for willlow creek jasper on eBay and this came up in the search. It was in a section with framed things because this is actually in a frame. No rock junkies saw it, so I got it for 5.00. Yup. How cool is that??? What a nice way to end the day and this post. ;)

On second thought, I'll end with this question- Should I try to cab the 23mm heart or leave it in the frame as it is?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cabbing: The Good; The Bad; The Ugly

I'm terribly excited and distracted, but I will try to be coherent. I think it will be easiest just to show you. What do you want first? The good, the bad or the ugly? Let's start with the good. :)

Graveyard Pt. Plume Agate Cabochon
The cab above was the first one that I cut with my Genie and I did it (for the first time) last night. It was my first agate, too. I love the metallic bits at the top of the plumes. I looked it over and decided that I could do better, so this morning, first off, I repolished it. This picture was taken before I hit it with the final 14,000 grit. It is even more shiny now. This is the good. The beginner's luck. :) The polish is great, the cut is almost perfect and the positioning of the pattern is pretty.

Before I move onto the bad, let's take a look at the steps involved to get the good. Of course, last night, I was way too excited to stop and take pictures for you, so I recreated the cab experience just for you. :)

Graveyard Pt. Plume Agate Slab
 The picture above is of the same slab that I cut the first cab from. I got the slab from a woman on eBay who graciously labeled all the slabs in the lb lots that I bought from her. Turns out she teaches cabbing at her local rock club. You can meet the nicest people on eBay. :) But, I digress.

First you need to examine the rock/slab for fractures and whether or not they are healed. Then you need to find an interesting area which you think would make a nice cab.

Mark Up Your Cab
You can see, I chose a nice section. I used a Sharpie, but I usually use a pencil, and marked the area with a template. Simple, right? Well, no. I ran into some problems with this. My son actually took this slab to the trim saw and was cutting it out when a big piece of the back broke out. So, I had to remark the slab for a cab that would fit in the undamaged area. (Sorry, no photos of that fiasco.) These things happen. I looked it over real good and thought that section would be solid. Obviously, it was not. What I ended up with was a different shape.

The picture below was one my daughter took with her camera while I was working. It's a different cab, but pretend it is graveyard plume. (Yes, the kids had to come over and see Mom's new toy.)

At The Wheel
 Many of you may have noticed that I typically have long nails. Make that-- did have long nails. After using Randy's genie, I knew I had to cut them, but I didn't cut them short enough. The polishing wheels helped with that. :)

Anyone familiar with cabbing, might note that I am not using a dop stick. (The stick with sticky wax on it used to hold your preforms/blanks.) It is a real challenge for me and my old, short, fat, arthritic fingers to do this without one. I can see me purchasing yet another tool in my near future. Besides, I like my nails. A lot. 

After spending a fair amount of time at the wheels, going through coarse to fine, I finished up another graveyard plume. This one came out lovely. The size and shape remained true and the polish was good. However, there wasn't as many metal highlights in the cab.

Terrible picture, but you can see the shape is pretty good.
Here you can see a little of the metal

I gave up trying to get a picture of the gloss. You'll have to trust me on this. Taking pictures of stones alone is going to be something to learn. I usually use a polarizing filter on my camera to cut glare on metal. I think I need to remove it to get the shine on rocks. I'll need to try that next time.

That was the good. I am famous for having beginner's luck. The day was going too well. I was feeling confident. I had worked enough agate to break in the wheels. It was time for one of the lovely jasper preforms. I chose a really cool Tornado Jasper to try next. I found out while working this one, that wearing optivisors is probably a good idea. You'll see why.

Tornado Jasper (See the hematite?)

 The picture below looks pretty good, too, right??

Have another look. At first glance, this seems perfectly acceptable. But, on closer inspection..... extra facet close to the edge. At first, I was just disappointed with the dull shine. (More on that later.) I put my optivisors on to examine it closer. Then, I began to notice the little things that mean the difference between pro and amateur. Like the uneven bezel in the picture below.

At this point in the day, I had to put the Genie back in the bottle. DH was on his way home, and I had a huge mess on the kitchen table. He wouldn't say anything, but, well, I'm just thoughtful like that. Anyway, I resolved to repair these issues tomorrow and work through the polishing wheels again to try and get a better polish. I'm thinking it should get a better shine, but I have never seen a finished cab of this material before, so I'm not sure. I do love it, either way. It is much prettier than my pictures indicate.

That was the bad, but the bad still had hope. There was no hope for the ugly.

I am learning that sometimes there is no hope. I began these two with the hope of finishing some interesting looking cabs. One- the lower, Burro Creek Agate- had a super cool looking alien face in it. The upper one- some kind of agate- had a cool pattern, too. I began on the 80 grit wheel to shape them both, but both had pieces break off. In fairness to both the rocks and myself, I knew each section of rock had problems, but I was hoping against the odds that I could salvage them. (Why do I always try to do the near impossible as a newbie??) With each chip or break, I simply refused to give up and tried in vain to salvage them. At the point in which you see them pictured, I decided to let them of the hook with some dignity left. In the image of me at the wheel, it is a much larger version of this burro creek agate that I am working on. It shrank. :)

I am glad for the ugly, they both taught me an invaluable lesson or two. First, you can't win if you don't play. And, equally important- Know your limits and in my case, ignore them. I wouldn't have learned better how to evaluate a rock if I hadn't given them a shot.

That sums up my day's adventure.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I enjoyed putting it together. I won't bore you with every rock adventure I have, just let this be an introduction to my new fascination. Well, cabbing stones is one, but there are two others that are equally cool and I'll let you know about those soon, too. :) And, let's not forget that I haven't even the broached subject of the rolling mill, yet. But, I'll be getting to that, too. Now that I am cutting my own rocks, we'll see how I can combine the rolling mill with cabs. :)

Monday, June 25, 2012



Ok, I understand, you probably aren't as excited as I am, but let me tell you, today was 10 Christmas's rolled into one. 

This monster box of 65 lbs was shipped from the other coast via UPS. Because of my personal experience with them, I have been nervous since it left the warehouse, ok terrified, I admit it. But, just look at that box! Not a dent or scratch on it. YAY!!!! Sa-weet! 

It was 5 minutes to set it up. (After 15 of unpacking the packaging.)

This is it, what I have been waiting for. This thing reeks of quality. Everything is well thought out and well made. The motor is an American made industrial motor of renown reputation- a Baldor.

The grinding and polishing wheels are the best in the business. On the left (top) are forming wheels, 80 grit, 220 and 280; on the right (bottom) are the polishing wheels 600, 1200, 3000 and on the end is a flat lap pad of 14,000. All these wheels are kept cool with a continuous mist of water. You can see the misting apparatus in the top picture.

It is recommended that you break in your wheels with some hard agate. I'm a jasper fan, myself, but I did happen to have some Graveyard Plume and I immediately sat down to wear in the wheels. I couldn't work too long in the house because the Genie didn't arrive until 6:30 PM- yeah, our UPS truck is always late. (I was anxiously waiting for this thing allllllll day!)

Stay tuned next time for the good stuff.... the rocks.... I got about 10 packages of slabs in the mail today and I can't wait to show you some of the slabs, preforms and a few finished cabs.

Some days, are just plain more awesome than others. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Woven Wire and Weaving Wire

I was already to post about my new rocks and saw, but I'll save that for when I get the polisher. I did get some preform cabs cut to work with when I get it. Instead, I thought I would post some recent pieces.

Here is one that I am desperately tempted to keep! Rare and beautiful Danburite- usually you find it faceted. I was thrilled to find a cab. This is woven throughout and a time consuming endeavor. I've been attracted to weaving lately. I think because it forces me to slow down. These are both sterling silver and argentium.

Here is another rare beauty- an natural orange quartz with a faceted bezel cut. This has a woven bail.

 Even though I have been consumed with my new rock cutting adventure, I never lose my love for wire wrapping! I have to do a piece every so often or go nuts. :)

Next blog, I hope to have the polisher and lots and lots of pictures. There is also something else that I'll tell you about that I haven't even mentioned, yet. It's really groovy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Busty Is Finished and So Is My first Cabbed Pendant

She has been nothing but a pain, but she is finished. I now have a jewelry bust mannequin affectionately called, Busty.

As I noted on my last post, I used Laura's (CookOnStrike) tutorial to make Busty. Busty did give me trouble, though it was no fault of the tute.

Gluing the paper to the form was tedious in the extreme. So, what I did was work on it for a little while and then go to another project I had going, which was to cut cabochon templates.

About 50 or so templates cut from heavy plastic with a razor.
After all the hard work, I was ready to paint. I decided to use spray paint. I chose an off white flat color. However, when I went to use the name brand expensive paint, the can kept spitting really bad!!! Busty looked like she rolled in glue and then jumped into a pool of sand.

Click to see the sandy bumps all over her.
So, after panicking and swearing, I sanded her down as much as I could, grabbed my husband's really cheap flat white spray paint and reshot her.

Much Better!!
 And, here she is all dressed up with no where to go.

I just finished this piece this morning. It is a Sonora Sunrise in copper.

And, I finally wrapped up my first cabbed cab. There is a story about this. I wanted it to be special because, well, because it was my first. I went two bead stores and couldn't find what I wanted for it, but as time went on, I realized that I loved it without the beads. I also love it with raw copper. So, here it is. I love it just the way it is. :)

As for all those templates.... I will be getting a trim saw tomorrow and will start roughing out some cabs (preforms). I'll probably get the Genie via UPS in a week or so and I want to be ready to start cabbing as soon as I get it. LOL! Wait till you see some of the slabs I've been picking up. :)

You may notice that I changed my photo format. This is the format for Etsy. You'll have to click to get a better view. 

Thanks for your input regarding my long posts. I shall blog when I have the time and will do it to my heart's content. :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tool Time: Mannequin, Rolling Mill, Genie Cab Machine

Another long post. I'm pretty excited about these new tools- A new jewelry bust, a rolling mill and a cabbing machine. My cup runneth over. (Or, my shed runneth over.)


I thought I would never find the time to work on her, but Busty is almost finished.

I used an old bust that I used to have and followed Laura's (CookOnStrike) tutorial to clone it. You might remember when I blogged about this. My goal was to make her smaller to fit in my light tent.

Click for a better view-- The years have not been kind to her

I began by wrapping her neck and then added a small tshirt.

I began following the instructions.

But, seeing how I'm not that great at following directions, I veered off and added her chest plate sooner than Laura did.

I used the tape lines as a guide to place the cardboard chest plate.
I had no idea of the outcome, but thought it would work out ok, so I began taping it in.

Those hard edges were worrisome.
All  taped in

After I got the breast plate taped in, I continued taping her up. I used white Duck tape brand duct tape- the good stuff. It comes in all colors now. I was thinking it would be easier to cover the white, but it only made it harder to see what I was doing. I wouldn't use white on white again.

I kept hoping in the back of my mind that the plate would work out in the end. :)

Here she is at the end of phase one taping.
 After the thorough taping, which took about 2 small rolls of tape, I used small pieces of masking tape to cover her (while she was on the form) then I cut her off, covered the holes with cardboard and stuffed her with crumpled paper as per Laura's instructions.

She fits!!!
 I placed her in my light tent and realized that I should have checked sooner but she did fit.

Now, I need papier-mâché and possibly paint. That will have to wait till Monday. This weekend my son and grandson have a birthday and it's father's Day, so the weekend belongs to my boys. :)

This is how I would do a close up of a necklace.

A longer shot
I did run into a few small problems. When I flipped her over onto her ample chest, after she was stuffed, and the tip of her boob was crushed in. I poked a hole in it, stuck a crochet hook in and pulled it out. (Did that make you cringe? LOL!) She should be fine, I stitched her up with some tape. Any other problems will be taken care of with the paper phase.

I see from my photos that I will need to use a handheld light to take that strategic shadow off, but, all in all, I think she'll do nicely. :)

This project was pretty straight forward. I used a dummy instead of a human, which actually made it more difficult, I think. She wanted to slide around and I had no resistance to tape against. She didn't have any give for cutting the clone off, either, I had to use a razor. The chest plate will look fine, by the time I'm done. I'm glad I did it early in the project. The stuffing was somewhat of a pain. Having the plate already in place made it easier to do.

When she is all finished I'll add pictures with a necklace. It should look pretty nice. :)


I have another new tool!!! I don't know that I should say this, but it was a very special gift from a very special lady. I am now the proud owner of a rolling mill!!! My head is swimming with ideas! This tool, like the cabbing machine and tile saw will need it's own table, so I haven't set it up, yet. But, when I do I'll be using this free tutorial by Susan at Wired Lotus. I won't say more about my ideas, but I have plenty. Now, to find the time! Thank You!!!


While the camera was out, I got pictures of the last stone I cut. It's a tiger iron with lots of gold tiger eye flecks. It has a funky shape that maybe a newbie should have left alone. But, practice, practice, practice and learn. (My cabbing machine HAS been ordered!! YAY!!! Go me!!!!!!)

The one side needs to come in, but I was concentrating on that inside cut (pictured below)

This inside curve was supposed to be the hard part, but the outside curve is where I really messed up.


So, tell me- is it better I do several small posts or blog my heart out when I have the time?? I could have broken this into several, but then, I may not have found the time and then not gotten it done. Let me know.


Have a great weekend and remember to hug your Dad's. I'll certainly be thinking of mine. I think I'll have some ice cream in his memory- he loved him some ice cream. LOL!