Archive for the ‘Rocks’ Category

Rock Tumbling – Batch 7

February 11th, 2009 No comments

Having received a second tumbler (this one a 2-barrel) from Santa (thank you Santa!), I’ve been able to keep three batches of rocks tumbling most of the time instead of just one batch. However, the variable I neglected to recognize is that this also uses up a lot more silicon tumbling grit. Hmm. I seem to go through a lot of the rough grit too – and naturally this is what’s on backorder from my supplier. So having put all the rough stones I can through that stage for now, I have been able to finish batch #7 which included some of the petrified wood that Keith (on the Rock Tumbling Hobby forum) had sent me many months ago. It turned out beautiful, too! The rest of the batch is mostly beach jades.

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First tumbling batch done!

August 29th, 2008 No comments

My first, quite experimental, batch of tumbled rocks and beach stones is done! I could have run a second polish cycle (1 more week) but I was more interested in finding out how things looked. The “jade” (nephrite, jadeite, some serpentine, etc.) that I’d added for the 500 grit stage faired the best of the batch, I think. The jaspers look beautiful and there were a few surprises and mystery stones. I have lots of photos in the gallery if you want to see specifics.

Many of the rocks, about 60% I would guess, were too soft to either take a shine or not disintegrate completely, which is exactly what many of them did. I had loaded up this batch before beginning to read the Rock Tumbler Hobby forum and learned about hardness/scratch testing too late. 😉 Chalk that up to a learning experience. I did get several nice stones that are good enough to set in jewelry though, which is the point of this exercise. 🙂

I even managed to take some (handheld!!!) shots on SuperMacro through a 10x loupe! That was hilarious but here’s proof (a brecciated jasper) that it works!

And finally, the biggest mystery (so far) – a black (but unbelievably translucent – a deep, deep cognac color!) piece with tiny baby blue flecks (the look white in the photo). I’m trying to find out what this is. So far I haven’t been able to match it to any of the previous stage photos, and the ID is up for grabs in the RTH forum.

I’ve just charged the tumbler with “batch 2” which consists entirely of “jades” from Moonstone Beach. For sure there are serpentines, nephrites and some green chert, probably some green jasper and/or jadeite plus whatever other mineral types I haven’t learned yet. 😉 Four or five weeks from now, we’ll see what they look like! Stay tuned!

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Tumbling update

August 22nd, 2008 1 comment

Well, the first tumbling batch of rocks have gone through the 120/220 and 500 grit stages (I skipped the initial 60/90 grit since the stones were already pretty smooth and well-shaped) and I washed them today to see how things were going before I charged up the cylinder with the polish grit and some cushioning pellets. I had started this batch before really understanding much about rock hardness, hadn’t done any “scratch tests” on what I put in, I just loaded it up. LOL Well, several of the softer stones wore completely away and little remained of most of the other soft ones. This is what I was left with, and this is after adding a few handfuls of smooth jade pebbles when I started the 500 grit stage! A few of my favorite pieces (shown wet):

I’m reading up to try and learn how to identify some of these. Mainly I think I consider this first batch a learning experience – what not to put in the tumbler and to make sure and do hardness tests. I do hope I can rustle up a little shine on these though – I’d love to set a few of them. I found a great forum where I’m learning a lot about rocks, tumbling and geology in general; not to mention the people there are really, really nice!

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Tumbling more than silver

August 9th, 2008 1 comment

For some time now, I’ve had the benefit of being able to tumble polish my sterling and fine silver with my Lortone tumbler that Larry got me. This is done with stainless steel shot. Actually tumblers are really intended to polish stones, as in lapidary. But you can’t use the same rubber cylinder for metals that you do for stones, so I’ve been just using mine for polishing silver pieces that I’ve made.

Well, finally I have a second tumbler cylinder and just today have charged (loaded) it with beach stones from Montana de Oro. Some of them look like they’re going to be gorgeous! There’s only one catch, though – each of the cycles with successive abrasive grits takes a week!

Here are the “before” pictures! Even now, the colors are awesome and the patterns are really cool. With these beach-worn stones, I was able to skip the coarse abrasive step which otherwise would shape, round and size down other rough, sharp, ragged stones. So I might be looking at a total of 3 weeks until the final polish is done. This is really exciting – I hope to mount several of the stones in jewelry, if they’re shiny enough. As I don’t know what kind of stones a lot of these are (I did recognize a few quartz pieces though), they may be so soft that they just wear away in the tumbler, but time will tell that. As if finding the stones wasn’t enough fun (who would turn down an afternoon at Montana de Oro??)!

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