Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Project Cab

Fellow jeweler and talented friend, Susan, of Wired Lotus, and I were chatting when she brought up a project she was working on for a book. One thing lead to another and I found myself happily agreeing to make a cab for one of her book projects. I asked her what she wanted. Sonora Sunrise. Wise choice. The color stands up to just about anything and really, and... who doesn't love Sonora Sunrise?

It just so happened that I got in some primo 2007 Sonora Sunrise a couple days before. It was discovered in 2006, so this is old dig. From everything I am hearing, it is all mined out except for a very small amount still coming out of the mine. It doesn't hold a candle to the original, though. The colors in my old slabs are eye popping! The material takes a nice polish, too, which is not usually the case.

I picked out the nicest slab and thought it would be cool to let Susan pick the area where she wanted the cab to come from. She wanted a small round cab. I sent her pictures of the slab and asked her if she wanted to mark it out. Absolutely, she did. She was tickled to death and really felt like she was part of the process for the stone in her big project. She sent back an image with the circled area.

I usually use templates to mark out my cabs. I typically will find the sweetest spot or two and mark those out. The rest of the slab, IF it is nice enough, gets marked out after. Sometimes, I just freeform the stone around the lines. And, as I warned Susan, sometimes... ok, often... the slab will break while it is being cut into preforms/precabs. If that is the case, I free form the pieces that are left.

My circle template had a good size for her, so I marked it out and sent the image for approval. "Perfect!" she says.

I said a quick prayer and hoped for the best as the preform was cut out. The cab is in the middle of the slab, so a break could ruin the whole thing. But, that wasn't to be the case. The round came out just fine. I had a nice large piece left to make one or two more. Two little pieces broke off the end, but I can cab those. In fact, one is done already.

The round was then attached to the dop stick with hard dop wax. It's not really a wax, per say, it is a combination of hard wax and shellac. It holds the stone securely, so long as it isn't cold. To get it off the stone, you place it in the freezer. I generally have about 50 dopped up at a time. It was very important to have the dopstick centered.

Susan had very specific needs for her cab. I was so nervous cabbing it! Number one, I'm not real great at doing rounds. Some people will use a hollow core, round, diamond bit to cut out a round and others will spin the cab against the grinding wheel with a drill. Me, I just try to get it right. Number 2, the material can be hard to work with. Because it is so soft, it is very unforgiving. Blink at the wrong time, while you are on a coarse wheel, and BAM! you just dug a hole in your cab! And, number 3, I wanted it to be perfect the project. Which made me even more nervous.

I took my time and checked measurements as I went. It went really well and  it took a really good shine. Then I stopped to admire it and noticed that it was slightly off round. The human eye can discern tiny discrepancies. And, mine did. But, when I measured it, it was actually only a half mm off. I resigned myself to imperfection and wrote to Susan about her cab. I sent her pictures of the completed cab. I offered to cab another if she needed it. Thankfully, though, it will work fine for her project and she loves it. :)


Susan is going to keep me in pictures of her project. I'll do an update when the project is finished. I can't wait to see it! I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for her that her book project pans out nicely. :)