Imagine that you’re the first one that gets to peer into a treasure chest that is being opened in hundreds or thousands of years. This is the feeling of taking rough rocks found in the high desert of Oregon and polishing them to see the incredible windows into their beauty.
It takes a penchant for tedious projects leading to beautiful spoils to be ANY kind of artist. In the case of Lapidary, that vision must carry you through many ugly stages hoping that it’s all worth it in the end. I take an unorthodox approach with breaking my rough material instead of ‘slabbing’. The stones chose their shapes this way, from their perfect geometry within, but that definitely makes it harder to see what’s going on inside until the commitment is made to the rock.
Stick the Stone
For small stones, the piece is adhered to a stick (dop) so that grinding and polishing can happen without losing any of your fingers. This Oregon Thunder Egg displays mossing coming up through agate in stage 3 of grind/polish (out of a total of 8). The teardrop shape was how the gem responded to breaking and the first couple of grinding stones.
Many times pictures and landscapes are revealed in the stones. Another Thunder Egg from the Blue Bed shows an almost mod/abstract composition of a mountain with sun over head, framed by fortification lines and common opal. These are the surprises that the gems bring as one is cleaning them up.
When the Chips are Down
When the really lovely stones break, you can bet I’m saving every shard. The very smallest chips that won’t make a ‘free form’ cabochon get dopped and made into these great 5mm dots (the size of the dop they were on). These make great ring gems, earrings, and accent gems for variation in size and color palette of jewels to work with.
The pieces in the bouquet of dops just finished today! They will be finding their way into New Jewelry in the coming weeks. Can’t wait to see what happens to them!