After a long day of digging, we get to come home and sort through our treasure! We may bring home a bucket of rocks but that doesn’t mean it is all good material. Keep reading to see what the next steps are! First things first - dump all of the rocks on the floor! Okay, sometimes we put a towel down first, but this is definitely the best way to see what you have! When they are all spread out it is easier to pick out your favorite rocks! Like we mentioned in our last post, Variscite is pretty much blind digging. You don’t see what you have unless you accidently broke it with your hammer on the mountain. Everything else, we have to take to the slab saw. Currently, we have a smaller 6" trim saw but it works for what we need. How we cut it depends on the stone. The goal is to keep as much usable material as possible. Most of the time we will split a stone in half to see what is inside and then make further cuts from there.
When we are selling rough - the goal is to create slabs of material. This provides enough color to portray the material but still allows for the person cutting it to have some creative freedom. If the material is going into our personal stash - we trim it down to smaller pieces so we can cut them into cabochons. (More on what a cabochon is in the next post!) At this point we start sorting. If it is fragile, we will set it aside to be backed. We do not back all of our material, just the stones that need it for stability when setting.
Once everything is sorted, backed (if needed), and ready to go, we prep the stones for cutting! Each of the small pieces that were trimmed in the prior step are double checked to make sure at least one side of the stone is flat. This flat side will be what is glued onto the nail. We use typical construction nails and super glue to give us something to hold onto while we are cutting the stones. There is a specific "dop wax" that can be used but we find it to be very messy and expensive, so we stick to our nails and glue. Once all the stones are on nails - they are ready for the lapidary wheels!
Have any questions or comments about this part of the process? Send us a message! Thank you for reading! -- Thomas & Riley