Saturday, February 14, 2015

NOT a Diet Pepsi

Steve was the one who came up with the mnemonic. That's after I blanked for hours on the name of what I was working on. Somehow Snowden" got stuck in my mind, preventing anything else from occupying that space with real information. I don't know where that came from. It's not like he's been in the news for ages. It's just another pesky thing he's done that hasn't helped a bit.

After wire wrapping, my next class was Lapidary. It involves cutting up rocks to turn them into - in this case - cabochons. In other words, jewelry. You start with a slab of whatever rock you like, the harder the better for working with, the more patterned or colorful, the more interesting the result. Lessons involved two kinds, a jasper and a mystery rock. The slab is generally about 1/4 inch think, and we started there. I had brought two rocks of my own to the class, hoping to learn how to create the slabs in the first place, as well as being curious what their insides looked like. I was promised I'd be taught that technique at some unspecified later date.

I'll remember.

Using a template with a variety of shapes and sizes on it, you pick out your shape, then where you want it on the slab, tracing it out with a pen or Sharpie. then you add straight lines for where to saw through the rock without either taking too much rock or getting so close you wreck the cab. In this planning process, you watch for lines and cracks in the rock where it could split apart, ruining your project.  One person explained the drop test, where you hold the slab flat about 3-4 feet over the concrete floor and let it drop. That will tell you which lines are flaws in the rock, and which ones have filled back in and become solid, or remineralized.

A broom can be handy afterwords.

Next come lessons on the saw, followed by a lesson in clean-up. Then lessons on the various grinders and polishers, and since these are all water-using machines, more lessons on cleanup after using each. The grinders shape the cab and the polishers follow up using finer and finer grit, eventually leaving your stone so smooth it shines.

Assuming you've done it right.

The first lesson is the instructor starting each step and you repeating it to learn the technique. The second lesson is you doing all the hands-on (sure, you remember each tiny step, don't you?) with the instructor looking over your shoulder with comments, corrections, and tips.

If there's a third lesson, you flunked your 2nd. They don't let you loose on the equipment unless you've passed.

While I was learning how to turn rocks into cabs, I was also scouring eBay, looking for my own materials. I found two sources I liked in the US, Utah and Phoenix. Both my orders arrived in two days and with bonus rocks! So last night I made templates, marked several slabs, and today went down to the community center with rather grandiose plans of what I could accomplish.

The first grinder developed a leak in the tray where water collected in the bottom with bits of rock dust, leaving both me and the floor wet. Cleanup was needed, and the monitor decided that this grinder was now out of commission. That left only one for what I needed to do. It was already in use, meaning about a half hour wait.  One part of the process involves heating hard wax to affix a stick on the back side of the cab as a way of holding it without grinding your hands while you work rock. The new heater for the "dop pot" takes 45 minutes to heat up instead of 5. Yes, I said new. They can't explain it. So there was another wait for a next step. There went my grandiose plans.

I worked nearly through on 4 cabs until discovering that my rock was so soft that increasing grinding was chipping and gouging my stone.

It was time to check in with the experts. Luckily, 2 instructors were there working on their own projects, and happy to share knowledge. There were suggestions on how to adjust my technique, with only marginal success. One cab started looking like it might split, so full stop. This time both had the same solution: super glue.

Not just any super glue, but exceptionally thin super glue, as in pours like water. No, it's not at the big box store chain. One instructor buys his on line, the other thought he found some a while back at one of the craft store chains. Once I get the stuff, I heat my stones, turn them face up, pour the super glue over the top, and let dry overnight. The usual cautions about not gluing myself to the rocks were proffered. I'm thinking these instructors are used to working with some very dim people. Once dry, I am to bring the rocks back in for grinding/polishing. The glue expands into the cracks and crevasses to hold the stone together and allow me to finish the job.

I decided to try the craft supply store, but while they had a wall of glues, none claimed to be exceptionally thin. Those that did mention their consistency varied from honey to solid. It wasn't a total waste of time, as I found a couple colors of crystals I've been wanting. So I came home and went on line. Google had precisely one super glue of the right consistency. A lot of ads, pushing similar products, they thought, but just one product.

I ordered three bottles. Who knows, maybe I can sell one.

I also chose standard postage for under $4. I could have opted for next morning UPS delivery, if I were in that much of a hurry, for a mere $108.30! Even with all the delays, I wasn't in that big a hurry. There are other rocks to work on while I wait.

The day's frustrations did have one side effect, however. About halfway through, I blanked on the name of the stone I was having all the problems with. I could NOT come up with it. As mentioned above, the wrong information plugged up the memory channels. I had to actually go look it up on eBay to see what I'd bought: it was sodalite. I know that stone. I've had a snuff bottle in sodalite for years. It's a beautiful deep blue - think navy or denim blue - mixed in with a very white rock. But I just couldn't come up with a name.

Or a way to remember it. But Steve could. "Diet Pepsi!"

Huh? Say what?

Diet Pepsi. Soda light = Diet Pepsi.

Except the stone is prettier.

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