Welcome to our messy world of Lapidary, yes Lapidary is very messy but extremely rewarding, it really brings out the “creative” in you, sometimes with realising it.
So what is Lapidary, well as far as we are concerned it’s all about taking a lump of stone, be it a semi precious piece from our stocks or a piece of agate I have picked up in the fields when walking the dogs and then turning that lump of rock into a unique, highly polished item that can be used in Shalini’s jewellery.
Basically, it’s not rocket science but does require a good amount of care as it employs some pretty ferocious machinery, and the proximity of the fingers is always very close to a fast spinning saw blade or grinding wheel. Not to mention the lubricating water/oil mix that is used on the saw, eye protection must always be worn during this process.
So where do we start, well we grab a lump of rock and slab it on the saw, by slabing we mean we cut the rock into slices, usually about 6mm thick but this depends on the end use we have in mind, so it can vary.
After we have our slabs we sometimes use a template to mark the shape of the finished item, sometimes we just use the natural shape of the slab to dictate the outcome.
Next we will go back to the saw and trim the slab to the marked out shape if needed, if we are using the slab natural shape there is no need.
Now we move onto our homemade cabachon machine, its basically a grinding wheel with two wheels on it, one is a very rough diamond grinding wheel that we use for the initial shaping of the piece, this wheel also lover to eat finger nails – be warned. Then its onto the other wheel which is an expanding rubber wheel that has various silcone carbide sanding belts fitted on it. We always start with the most ferocious belt and work our way down to the finer belt which produces a nice pre polished piece.
From here it’s onto the polishing wheel which has a felt pad on it and cerium oxide polish which just finishes off the piece nicely ready for Shalini to mount it in her fine jewellery style.