Introduction to the Lapidary Arts

Lapidary Arts at Nova Labs

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, Nova Labs members met in Blacksmith Alley for the second offering in the Introduction to the Lapidary Arts course series. Christopher J. Evey instructed the class on 3 types of rock saws used to process rough gemstones into pieces ready for shaping and polishing. Carrie Hafer, Brad Clements, Marnie Dollinger, Rob Bowers, and Stacey Lanzilotta attended the class.

Students working at the cutting and grinding machines

Students working at the cutting and grinding machines

Chris began the class by walking through the setup and operation of the Raytech trim saw and the Diamond Pacific Genie Trim Saw Attachment. These saws are used to cut small pieces of rough gemstones and more commonly, cut segments from stone slabs into the pre-forms that will become cabochons. Next, the class shifted focus onto the larger saw, the Lortone Panther, which is a 14 inch diamond saw used to cut flat slabs from large rough rocks. Surprisingly, the saw did not turn on when activated; however, this flaw turned into a teaching moment as the students witnessed how to repair electrical wire connections to this vintage equipment. Brad and Chris successfully rewired and soldered a loose connection to solve the issue and restore power to the saw.

Brad's Oregon Thunderegg

Brad’s Oregon Thunderegg

With the large saw running, the class began to cut some of the rocks they brought to class. Brad cut a beautiful Oregon Thunderegg he purchased specifically for this class. Rob cut a quartz crystal geode acquired during his past vacation. Carrie cut a few slabs from some nice quartzite that she later ground into cabochons.

Throughout the day, Chris made his grinding station available so that student who were not otherwise engaged with using the saws could attempt to stay warm by making cabochons. Stacey, Marnie, and Carrie each made their first cabs during this class.

Rob's Quartz Geode

Rob’s Quartz Geode

The class wrapped up after some additional cabochon instruction and cleanup. The students expressed an interest in more lapidary classes and suggested a course on where to find gemstones and how to identify them. Additionally, all the students voiced an interest in a Nova Labs-sponsored field trip in the local area to collect rocks.

Marnie (Front) and Stacey (Rear) at the Cab Machine

Marnie (Front) and Stacey (Rear) at the Cab Machine

Chris and Carrie discussed potential interest in the purchase of a cabochon grinding machine at Nova Labs. In examining space in the Crafters Cove area of the Orange Bay they thought perhaps a small rolling bench that could fit under one of the wire racks might work to store a grinding machine. This machine would need to be rolled out to the shop in back for use so as not to disrupt other members and cleaned up each time before being returned.  Chris agreed to continue to support investigating and discussing potential lapidary equipment in support of our rock hounds and future classes for Nova Labs.

Carrie's rock slabs and first Cabochons

Carrie’s rock slabs and first Cabochons (photo by Carrie Hafer)

Provided by Christopher Evey