Monday, January 28, 2008

Adventures With Grandpa - Thwarted by a Dop Stick

Weathermen are always wrong it seems. It was supposed to snow on Saturday so my mom and I were a little hesitant to head to grandpa's house. But he was really looking forward to our visit, and so was I, so off we went in my mom's new little box shaped car (Scion). The freeway was fine but the back roads were a little shiny. We didn't slip or slide but my aunt, who joined us and arrived about an hour after we did, said it was icy when she got off the freeway.

So while there was no snow, it was freezing cold...hence the scarf and sweatshirt you'll see in my photos here. The rock room (yes he has an entire room) is in the basement ... and it is COLD!

My adventure actually begins with trying to find a size 10.5 women's ring with a bezel setting for a cabochon at least 13 x 18 mm. Yeah...didn't happen.

While my soldering skills have increased over the last year I was still supremely nervous ... but I marched on and created my own dang ring mounts. The first bezel I completely melted...oops. But the next three, after several heinous attempts, finally worked (well, mostly...the next morning I woke up and got them out of the tumbler and one of the bezels had fallen off ... so I had to re-solder it before I left!).
Anyhoo...grandpa seemed pretty impressed with my work. But I think he is slightly biased. :)

We started setting up his equipment ... And let's just say this equipment has seen better days. It is OLD! Older than me (going on 30) and I was a little concerned that it wouldn't work properly.

We had to take time to clean everything out - there were old shavings/dust and quite a few dead ladybugs in the grinder saw.

Going through his rocks to pick out which stones to use took us a little while. We kept finding all these really cool stones that were so beautiful - but too beautiful and unique to use on a practice run. So grandpa found a nice slab of Sodalite and I decided to use a slab of stunning natural Tiger's Eye.
I really love that I can tell people for sure that this stuff is completely natural. And I mean ... some of his stuff hasn't even yet been cut into slabs and looks like it came right out of a mountain. It is that natural. Some stuff you can't even find anymore. I can't wait to play with that stuff!

Grandpa goes first and cuts his Sodalite. It's a gorgeous deep blue color and it's no wonder they call it "poor man's Lapis" because it is hard to tell the difference when you have this high quality of Sodalite.

I watch him cut and his finger hits the blade! He just laughs (the old fart!) and says that it won't cut he sticks his finger on the blade on purpose to prove it. That actually makes me feel better about using it (I'm a wuss when it comes to tools - I even flunked Shop!) though I didn't plan to purposely drag my finger across it.

Then it was my turn. I got my slab and marked it to the proper size cab I wanted to create for my ring.

Don't laugh at my hair or clothes please. It was really cold down there!

Then I started to cut.

The machine is super loud and the vibration went through my whole body. But it was really fun!!! As if I need a new jewelry design addiction ... now I want to cut stones!

The next step after cutting around the basic shape - grandpa instructed me to not cut too close to the actual line because we shave it down to get the exact shape - is to grind it down.

One thing I learned - the side you mark will end up being the BOTTOM. So the pretty design that I thought I was going to have on the top ... not so much. Thankfully the new top design isn't so bad. But I'll have to remember this in the future.

Grandpa went first to show me how it's done. Look at those hands! Boy have they seen a lot in 80 years.

Then it was my turn. I like this part too!

The goal is to grind it down until it will fit into the ring mount. And finally mine did.
The next step would be to attach the bottom of the stone to a Dop Stick with wax. The problem we ran into ... the wax would NOT stick to the dang stones. Oh, it would stick enough to make us think it was working but when grandpa then tried to start sanding the stone would pop off. He's not sure if the wax is just really super old and no good or what. But that foiled our plans to complete our rings that day.

I really wish he lived closer. It takes about an hour to get to his house but I'm definitely excited and ready to go back down. I have cut a stone once before with him but I don't remember enjoying it nearly this much. Perhaps I've gained enough confidence since that time to have faith in my ability to finish a piece. All I know is that the weekend can't come fast enough. And I'm glad it's still winter because once summer starts I know grandpa won't have the same amount of time to play - he's still a farmer after all.

It never did snow that day, although I did wake up today to an inch and some fun driving conditions.

Stay tuned for our second adventure in stone cutting. :)


Dharma Designs said...

Great story!

Kim said...

Beautiful work - but where is the giveaway? you really shouldn't post on a giveaway site if you don't plan to join the giveaway.

Rosanne said...

What a wonderful story! It is so nice that you can spend time with your Grandfather. My grandparents all passed away before I was born or when I was too young to know them. I tell my kids everyday that they are lucky to be able to spend time with THEIR grandparents who are all still living and in reasonably good health. But to be able to LEARN something from your Grandfather is even more special. You are really very lucky.

Barb Macy said...

Love the story, Megan! One of those memories you'll always have!

Kristin said...

I've always wanted to learn to cut stones - I'm interested to see how yours turn out!

Yazmin said...

Wow, look at you cutting stones, Megan. I never would have imagined. :)