Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jet of the Day - Donna's Artisan Designs

Dances with Stones

This would be the title of my latest story line in my ever changing adventure of “Donna in Jewelry land”! It’s really quite funny that the very beginning of my adventure I started buying rocks, gemstones, semi-precious stones. The reason it’s funny is because I didn’t know WHY I was buying them, just that I was fascinated by them. And not necessarily the sparkly shiny ones as I had recently started exploring the world of Swarovski, but the ones with pictures and patterns and color combinations that were truly unbelievable to me. I’d literally spend HOURS looking for them, and at them.

Fast Forward Nov 2011

So I go to this show being hosted by a group called OMG(S)…LOL…I immediately related!! I thought I’d go, take the granddaughter, look for beads. Oddly enough Wendy is the one who told me about the show! Well I definitely DID buy beads, and supplies that I needed.

But I was so attracted to the stones…again. I had already started tumbling them so I hoped to gain more info, because I just LOVED the whole process and, more importantly, what that tumbler did to those ugly rocks!! I also talked to some people there about the Oklahoma Mineral & Gem Society (the group hosting it) and really thought it might be a good idea to join…so we did. Thanks to the encouragement of Augie (Bearsie) as well for talking to me at length of why joining might be a great idea.

Skip ahead to December 2011

After attending one “work night” with the OMGS and seeing a Cab King Arbor and everyone hovering around I went to see what all the fuss was. At that time, I knew, this was something I would definitely enjoy doing. I was told that I could go to the local lapidary shop and “rent” time on the machine.

And so my journey began….

So after falling in LOVE with this art I set about to get me a machine and all “the works” that went with it…I have to take a moment to say how AWESOME my hubby was about it. Every Saturday from December thru February he’d drop me off for my “lessons” sometimes hang out and other times take the granddaughter home after she had “bought all her rocks”, then come back and pick me up. Also of course that he allowed me to buy some very expensive equipment.

This is taken from Wikipedia regarding Lapidary:

A lapidary (the word means "concerned with stones") is an artist or artisan who forms stone, mineral, gemstones, and other suitably durable materials (amber, shell, jet, pearl, copal, coral, horn and bone, glass and other synthetics) into decorative items such as engraved gems, including cameos, or cabochons, and faceted designs.

It goes on to say that diamond cutters and stone masons basically are not considered “Lapidary”.

In my own words I’d like to tell you a bit about this art form. Lapidary Arbors or “flat laps” can be a bit of an expense anywhere from $500 up to a few thousand dollars or more. The pads can use several different materials but diamond grit is best. The arbors contain 6 grit bands ranging from 80-200 to start and up to 2000 -3000 for the sixth wheel. There is a “high polish” wheel either made from leather or a soft felt or cloth pad that you treat with a polishing compound or some people use a slurry, which is the product you find when tumbling stones.

Of course you’ll need a trim saw to cut the stones that you prepare for the grinding/polishing arbor.

This was, for me, the most intimidating piece of equipment I had to use. Not like the one I used in woodshop at all!!

In both the saw and lap machine water is the most important factor. For the saw, the water drips from above onto the saw and the arbor is filled with water with a “spitter” or “bubbler” in place that had to be moved from wheel to wheel as you move forward in your progression of grit wheels.

You’ll need a dop station, dop sticks and dop wax. These are all used to mount the stone to prepare for use with the arbor. Getting the stones mounted is a skill all unto itself, but after burning my fingers or having the sticks fall over instead of sticking straight up I'm getting much better at this.

These tools are your basic needs, but of course, you can go on from here to adding other tools that are helpful not only for Lapidary but also metalwork.

You may be wondering about the title “Dances with Stones”. When you are making your creations it is like a dance. You get “dressed up”, in this case “dopped up”,

You take your partner and you start. At first you are “rough”,

then you start to acquire “form”, you “hone” your dance steps taking your partner around and around the “floor” and at that point you and your partner are truly “in sync”, you start to see and emerging style and finesse and when you’ve captured your “expression” there is a flow and a gracefulness.

You start to see promise a sleek and polished look. Then you continue to “polish” your craft, your “art” and at that time you and your partner start to really “shine”. Hopefully by that time someone snaps a picture and the audience reacts, and again, hopefully, they respond with applause.

I almost forgot to mention one thing, if you are fortunate enough, you may take on an apprentice that you can teach your craft to and to help with the responsibilities associated with this is my Lapidary assistant and Chief rock cutter:

I can’t tell you the extreme amount of amazement or awe you feel to observe a nasty, dirty “rock” become a beautifully poised and polished gemstone…you just have to experience it yourself. But I know, as in my case once you do…you are going to be hooked!! I absolutely encourage you to find your local lapidary shop, see if they “rent” time on their machine(s) and take a lesson or two. You will feel such a deep sense of satisfaction that it will be worth every penny you may spend or minute you invest!

Now for your viewing pleasure these are the cabs I have finished grouped in similar types

Desert Jasper n Crazy Lace Agate


The Deep Blue Sea outside 2

Crazy Lace and other Agates Cabs

Cabs Various CU

Cabs Tree Lapis Lemon Wood Amethyst

Cabs Green Jadeite Quartz

Blue Lace Agate Cabs

Azurite Malachite Cabs

Now I'd like to show some beautiful JET pieces that have some gorgeous "Rocks".

Fancy Pants - Rainbow Agate Bracelet - JemsbyJBandCompany

Iolite and Sterling Silver Circle - Capital City Crafts

Succor Creek Jasper and Sterling Bracelet - The Silver Bear

Mexican Fluorite Purple and Green Chunk Necklace - Rustic Rock Jewelry

Now I'm sure you can tell the many imperfections and the "marks of a beginner", but I hope with time these will all improve and perhaps at some point I will even be able to offer some for sale but for right now I'll just keep them in my designs and as a reminder that you have to start somewhere!!
Thanks for reading this .and I bet from now on you won't think of "rocks" the same way as you did but hopefully as I do and want to explore "the beauty underneath",


Donna Arena d/b/a "Donna's Artisan Designs"
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designedbyval said...

I'm glad you are having such a wonderful time Donna. I'm sure your cabs will be perfect in no time.

capitalcitycrafts said...

Fantastic post! Thanks so much for including my necklace too!

Bob J24-7 said...

This is a fabulous post, and I'm happy to see that you've found cabbing to be such a great experience. I love it too; and your article has me itching to take my equipment out to the driveway now that the weather is warming up! Your cabs look great ...

MadeByTammy said...

Your post makes me want to dance with stones! Gorgeous cabs and jewelry.

blancheb said...

Awesome blog and yes I too here the syren call of the stones!

Jennifer said...

Thank-you for sharing your passion and explaining the "dance!"

Your Daily Jewels said...

This is fantastic, Donna! Thanks for taking us through the process. Now I want to try! If I bring any more equipment home I am going to have to sleep in the basement with it :(

Tracy said...

I'm totally intrigued! I wonder if I have a local place to learn this skill! You make it sound like os much fun!

You're doing a FAB job!

WanderingJewel said...

Wow such beautiful stones! It is really an art and your cabs are really lovely.

willowcreekjewelry said...

Fabulous Post! thank you for sharing all the steps = ) Your cabs and designs are awesome!

ChayaGallery said...

What a wonderful post !! You've put a great love into words perfectly !

Brooke said...

Go Donna go! Wow, your cabs are looking great:)

ShinyAdornments said...

Loved this post.. you are SO lucky you can create your own stones!



Erika Price said...

Wow, you are a very talented JET producing such gorgeous cabs, and I'm so envious at your equipment - and skill! And I LOVE your lapidary assistant too!

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jemsbyjb said...

WOW this is a very informative post and your results are amazing.