Looking Forward to being a busy Lapidary in 2011

In addition to working semi precious stones like Tiger Eye, Blue Lace Agate and the many others we have in stock I also want to revisit my big stock of Flint and get to know it better and maybe couple it with the copper wire to produce a range of “not too expensive” jewellery but keeping it in the same class as our Sterling Silver wrapped jewellery. I also like the Flint because it’s a material I collected myself from an excavation site, so there is more of a bond to it than the bought in rough that we have.

Happy New Year

Well 2010 has been and gone now and now we look forward to 2011 in a positive manner and to getting the grinding and sanding wheel a turning again in the Lapidary workshop.

2010 was a quiet year out in the workshop for many reasons like other work commitments and to be honest no real need for more cabochons and tumble stones, simply because there wasn’t a lot of selling going on at the craft fairs in the first half of the year.

Fortunately things picked up in the second half of 2010 with the sale of rough rock showing an improvement and Shalini’s finished jewellery sales have also picked up a lot, so now we have got to start producing more of unique free form cabochons and get those tumbling machines spinning again.

While I am on the subject I should also mention that Shalini has completely rebuilt her on-line Jewellery Showroom and Shop which you can visit at http://www.jewellerybyshalini.co.uk and I have got the Rough Rock Shop on line as well, although I still have to get some cabochons and slabs photographed to on there, but you can find the Rough Rock Shop at: http://www.roughrockshop.co.uk

On the subject of tumble stones it has been really nice to see how interested the youngsters are in these stone’s, in fact I would say the vast majority of tumble stones have gone to kids who are under 10 years of age which is really nice.

We are also going to explore the possibilities if using copper wire more in our jewellery creations, in fact we are actively looking for a good source of 21swg square copper and half round wire, looks like we will have to import it from the USA as we haven’t found a supplier over here in the UK.

In addition to working semi precious stones like Tiger Eye, Blue Lace Agate and the many others we have in stock I also want to revisit my big stock of Flint and get to know it better and maybe couple it with the copper wire to produce a range of “not too expensive” jewellery but keeping it in the same class as our Sterling Silver wrapped jewellery. I also like the Flint because it’s a material I collected myself from an excavation site, so there is more of a bond to it than the bought in rough that we have.

Our adventures with wire tree sculptures have continued throughout 2010 and now instead of a small copse of trees we now have a small forest so to speak. We have made all kinds of shapes and sizes of trees out of bare copper, plated copper, aluminium and brass. I also had the idea of creating wire sculptures of Ent’s, you may remember them from the Lord of The Rings films, the most notable of the Ent’s was a chap named Tree Beard.

At first I wasn’t too sure how these Ents would turn out but I am happy to say that most people who have seen them at the craft fairs have recognised them who they are, so I must have got them right I guess. So Far I have made 3 Ents, one has gone to a new home in the last few months and seems to have settled in quite happily with his new family. There is also a larger one who is taking a rest sitting on a pile of boulders, I will get a picture of him up here soon and then there is the bay Ent who only got completed about two weeks ago, he looks to be full of mischief!

The wire sculptures will continue into 2011 as I am just about to start one in bare iron wire, maybe a foot tall as this one is going to be an experiment as he will be out outside when he is finished. I want to see how the wire rusts and how it adds to the overall finish of the tree. If it works then there will be a range of taller outdoor tree sculptures made which can go in the garden or on the patio.

So there we have it lots of plans for 2011, so first up when it gets a bit warmer is to give all of the equipment out in the Lapidary workshop a good servicing so it’s ready for use however I think this afternoon I will make a start on that bare iron wire tree sculpture I just mentioned.

All the best

Dave

Lapidary Workshop Prepared for use

After the long hard winter we have all just endured the Lapidary workshop was just too cold to be worked in, even the wood burning stove couldn’t cope, so it’s lain dormant for a quite a number of months.

So yesterday we spent much of the day cleaning up out there, sorting out rocks, while all the time resisting the temptation to switch the machines on.

Of course the machines all had to be cleaned down, checked over and lubricated, with that done, it wasn’t long before Shalini fired the cab machine up and gave herself a manicure again.

Now only the saw remains to be cleaned up, but there is no rush as we have plenty of slabs to be worked on.

She was working on some larger Labradorite tumble stones that didn’t quite work out in the tumbler, so far they are cleaning up nicely so lets see how it goes.

I found a small piece of Lapis and tried my hand at a bit of carving, didn’t really know what I was aiming to achieve at the start and to be honest I don’t really know what I have ended up with, maybe a “Gollum’s foot” would be a good description, but I will take it through all the stages and get it polished as it’s all good practice.

On a different note, we had a good show at the Stamford Arts Centre recently, Shalini managed sell all of the stalls so there was a wide variety of crafts on display and, considering there wasn’t a massive publicity push for this show, there were a lot of visitors. The wire tree sculptures got their first official airing to the public as well and they were well received with some nice comments.

I sat at my stall for a while making a tree and numerous people stood there watching what I was doing and asking questions, so I have learnt that doing a live demo does increase people interest in your wares.

The biggest seller on the lapidary stall seems to be the tumble stones, kids and adults seem to love them and it’s great to hear the kids telling me all about their crystal collections, who knows, maybe Lapidary will come alive again in the UK in future generations, that would be cool.

On the tree side of things I have two rolls of brass wire for another tree soon so am looking forward to getting into that one.

Following on from that one will be a bare iron wire tree, maybe 4 foot tall I hope to go outside in the garden, why bare iron? Well the idea is that it will rust and give the tree a natural colour over time.

On the horizon, we will be attending the Stamford Military Tattoo on the 19th June, the organisers have asked the Stamford Artisans Guild to set up a crafters area so we are busy on that and we have our next show at the Stamford Arts Centre on 25th July, so looking forward to that.

Anyway all for now, got to and sort out some more rough to go on the shop.

All the best

Dave

Lapidary Workshop Rebuilt

We have been talking for quite while now about rebuilding our Lapidary workshop in order to make it more efficient

Lapidary Workshop Rebuilt

We have been talking for quite while now about rebuilding our Lapidary workshop in order to make it more efficient and get it all into one area so we finally did it over the last bank holiday weekend, it took about 2 days to complete.

The other reason for doing this was that we wanted to have the workshop enclosed so that the warmth from the wood burner won’t be lost and we will then be able to work out there during the winter as well.

All of the worktops are made from 12mm marine ply which have had numerous coats of clear varnish applied.

So here are a few pictures of were we live!

The rock drill area:

We use a fordom SR series felxi shaft set up which serves our needs admirably, our drill bit are triple ripple bits for the smaller holes and then we use diamond coated bits to open the holes up to about 2.5mm which is fine for threading leather thong through.

This is our rock drilling area, we use a Foredom drill imported from the USA

The rock tumbler area:

Our tumbling equipment is made by Evans and Beech in the UK, the larger ones are the Evans CR2 tumbler machines and all of the barrels ae now rubber, made by Evans, it’s great now we have switched to rubber barrels and got rid of the plastic barrels, we can now hear ourselves think!

The rock tumbling area

Busy Rock Tumblers:

Here are both of the tumblers in action

Here are the four rock tumblers doing their stuff

The cabochon machine and polishing area:

This is our homemade cabochon machine and polisher, the polisher shares the saw.grinder motor, we just swap the drive belts, works just fine. We use cerium oxide polish on a felt pad and it works fine almost all our rocks.

Cabachon machine and polishing area

The rock saw area:

This is the rock saw and grinder combo machine, built way back when by PMR, it was bought second hand from Ebay about 2 years ago and has served us well, it has an 8″ saw blade and a lthal 8″ silcon carbide wheel which really eat finger ends if you are not careful!

This is the rock saw and grinder combo machine

Enjoy

Dave