So then I went crazy over drusy. I saw some photos of some on etsy and went on a hunt in person. I covered two gem shows and stayed all day, asking questions. Essentially they are numerous small crystals on a rock surface, emphasis on small. In my previous post the silvered one at the beginning is a great example and so is the ajoite further down on the right side of the photo.
I didn't find any good drusy at those shows but I did find these:
This is Stilbite on chalcedony stalactite from India. It's a beautiful slate, steel blue. It looks like this in my hand:
Here's an agate stalactite:
It's black like licorice gumdrops. In my hand it looks like this:
It's going to look so good cut into pieces, properly shaped and set into a ring or a pendant. I think I can make three pieces that can be set with this one.
And here is my variscite stash.
When trying to look it up online I get a link to "see turquoise" but that is a misnomer, even though I also read that "The sky-blue varieties are the most valued as gems." I also read that "it is hydrated phosphate of aluminum and is sometimes used as a substitute for turquoise". In another entry at "GEMROCKS: Ornamental & Curio Stones" I found that it's hardness is 3.5 - 4.5 - so it's not every hard and that's why it's mostly used for cabochons and carvings. Good, that's what I am looking for.
About turquoise: I found out that most turquoise is treated in some way to be harder and not so porous and/or to enhance it's color. A lot of "turquoise" in today's market has been treated or is reconstructed. If you want to be sure that something is natural, untreated turquoise you need to get it through a jeweler you trust or someone who has the equipment to test it. A few points seem important to note: "Untreated turquoise is porous and possibly brittle and natural turquoise is often backed with a rigid layer of something to make it more durable.
GEMROCKS says about variscite: "Two ... things should be kept in mind when sawing and polishing variscite rough: 1. sawing should not be done using oil because variscite and some of the other minerals in the typical nodules absorb and become discolored with oils; 2. polishing ... to a flat surface may be difficult because the variscite and other mineral constituents have different hardnesses and/or different degrees of compactness even within individual nodules. 3. caution when cleaning any variscite that has not been treated: Do NOT use an ultrasonic cleaner, common cleaning agents or other chemicals (e.g., alcohol or acetone), steam, or even hot water; use only soft clean absorbent cloth to clean it; leave it on a dry absorbent cloth until it is completely dry; [and] never let it soak in water of any temperature.
Some carvers of variscite matrix material have fashioned their works so the matrix material greatly enhances or actually provides part of the character of the resulting figures."
And that's the reason I wanted these rocks, because I don't want treated or stabilized or oiled or waxed or dyed or varnished or epoxied. I want what it looks like and the ease of cutting in this state. I may seal my finished stones with a little Renaissance Wax at the end. I will play it by ear.
At one of the gem shows I bought this beautiful, highly polished variscite cabochon and started making a ring for it last week. It's my 4th Ring a Week.
I had a blast soldering the bezel and some twist wire around it to a small piece of sterling silver sheet. It took awhile because I was nervous I would melt it but I didn't. (hooray!) That rough spot on the base of the setting is some solder that flipped off the bubbling flux and landed in the middle when I was soldering. I polished it off before I set the stone.
I also soldered small, balled bits of fine silver to the edge after I sawed out the shape of my back plate. Here are the top, back and side of my finished ring:
It's a big one and I am so happy with it!
SO I finished it and then the next day I was off to the 60th Anniversary party of the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild. I just became a member recently to broaden my horizons. It was a fun party and I met some famous and interesting people wearing really great jewelry. Of course I wore my new ring! . . . and my filigree-style heart with the little birdcage inside of it on the spiral link chain together with a 38 inch fused little blob link chain, oh, and some PMC lace earrings and 3 sterling bangles I made and another ring I made of PMC too. I was all decked out in a pretty dress and ready to meet people.
All the members who attended received this cute little pin commemorating the grand occasion. There were two women there who were founding members being honored for their lifelong participation, artistry and craftsmanship. They each wore beautiful handmade necklaces with matching earrings. For me it was the right place at the right time!
Many of you wrote to say you liked getting a glimpse of my studio out in the yard. Thanks for writing. I thought you'd enjoy seeing my work bench inside the house, downstairs where it's not so organized. I took this late one night after I was working for a while - real life!
click on it . . . yeah, there goes the fantasy . . .