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This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 67
2. NEW: Flat Lapping Dugway Geodes
3. NEW: Smithsonian
4. RE: Smithsonian
5. RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?
6. RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?
7. RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?
8. RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?
9. RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?
10. RE: Cutting Phenomenal Stones: Star Rose Quartz
11. RE: Waterglass
12. RE: Waterglass
13. RE: Waterglass
14. RE: Gaspeite as a Cabbing Material
15. RE: Leaking Lids on Lortone Tumbler
16. Re: Leaky Lids on Lortones
17. RE: Trim Saw


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 67

When you submit either a query of a response to the list,
please put only one topic in one message. An important
part of this mail list will be the thread Archives, in
which each query and all answers to that query will be
collated into one file. Then you may search by question
and all answers will be in the file you view. But this
will only work if you restrict each message to have only
one topic. Of course, I could do it for you, but frankly,
I do not have time to do that, and I really don't want to
have to do it! So I would appreciate it if you will
restrict each message to have only one topic.

This issue was something of a record; there were about 22
submissions, which seems too many to put in one issue, so
some are being saved for a later issue! If you don't see
your submission published, you will know what happened!

So the things to remember when submitting queries or
responses are:

.. Sign your name, please. I'm sure most of us prefer
knowing who wrote the responses - not just an e-mail
.. Add the words:"non-commercial republishing permitted";
then clubs can use your answers in their newsletters.
.. One message, one topic.

I am including some material about the opening of the Gem
Hall at the Smithsonian, although this is really off-topic.
But it is important and hopefully some of you may be able
to use the info and attend some opening lectures.

Next Issue will probably appear on Thursday.

Stay healthy, but above all, have fun!


Subject: NEW: Flat Lapping Dugway Geodes

What is the best way to polish Dugway geodes on a flat lap?
What grits and time should be used?



Subject: NEW: Smithsonian

Has anyone been to the Smithsonian to see the opening of
the Gem and Mineral hall? It opened about two weekends ago.

Scott Shrader


Subject: RE: Smithsonian

The fabulous, long awaited, new Geology, Gems and Mineral
Hall at the Smithsonian Institution will open to the
public at noon on Saturday, Sept. 20, 1997.

Illustrated lectures at noon on Fridays in Baird
Auditorium, MNH include:
October 3
The National Gem Collection, by Dr. Jeffrey Post,
curator gems and minerals
October 17
Volcanology in the New Hall, by Dr. James Luhr
October 31
In Honor of French Volconalogists Maurice and Katia
Krafft, by Dr. Tom Simkin
November 7
The Birth of the Solar System, by Dr. Glenn MacPherson,
chairman of the Mineral Sciences Department
December 5
After the Planets Formed, by Dr. Timothy McCoy

Informal lectures in the new hall, Tues and Thurs at 1pm:
October 14 & 16
The Geology of Jade, by Dr. Sorena Sorenson, curator
October 21 & 23
Volcanoes!, by Dr. James Luhr
November 4 & 6
Hawaii Erupts, by Dr. Richard Fiske
Nov. 11 & 13
Partly Melted Planets, by Dr. Tim McCoy
Nov. 18 & 20
The Wonders of Pegmatites, by Dr. Michael Wise, curator
December 9 & 11
The Magic of Crystals, by Dr. Jeffrey Post

If anyone wants more information, please contact me
PRIVATELY (do not use reply).

Cathy Gaber

Subject: RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?

In a message dated 97-09-29 16:29:55 EDT, you write:

<<At a recent gem show, I purchased a chunk of rock that
I've been shaping and polishing. It was labeled as
"Ellensburg Blue." Can you tell me anything about this
stone? It seems to be a very hard stone and is a blue/gray
color. Thank you.>>

Ellensburg blue is a blue chalcedony from Ellensburg, WA.
It is fairly rare and a good size piece can be very
expensive. It is similar is appearance to Holly Blue agate.



Subject: RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?

"Ellensburg Blue" agate is found as an amygdaloidal agate
nodule or geode in Kittitas County near Ellensburg,
Washington. Colors grade from almost white to a rich,
deep, pure blue. Best or most sought-after color is a
bright, lively cornflower blue. Some of it is close to
violet and some a pastel baby blue.

In the banded or fortification agate nodules, tints and
shades of blue may form a monochromatic arc from palest to
deepest royal blue. Another variation of the banded
variety is "onyx" or straight banding. Some of the
specimens are a uniform blue and extremely translucent.
If nodules have geode cavities, they are frequently lined
with drusy quartz crystals. As in other famous agate
beds, only a small number of the "Ellensburg Blues" are
of the highest gem quality, the dream of all collectors.

References: Two Lapidary Journal articles:

January, 1979, p. 2268; "He Found the Mother Lode in Blue
Agate Land," by Lucy H. Wallace;

October, 1985, p. 948; "A Record Shattering Find of
Ellensburg Blue Agate," by Peggy Nuckles (wife of Burt
Nuckles of Marysville, WA.

Dale Brown
Rockhounds Esq.

"non-commercial republish permission granted"

Subject: RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?

EB is blue agate found scattered around the highlands
between Cle Elem and Ellensburg, Washington. Good EB is
probably the best blue agate available but is very pricey
as it's nearly impossible to find. Beware of impostors!
The Tucson dealer of Mojave blue agate makes some of his
larger wholesale sales to jewelry shops in Ellensburg.



Subject: RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?

At the beginning of this summer I visited the Ginko
petrified forest (or whatever it's called) national monument
located where the Columbia river crosses I-90, a bit west of
dead center in the state of Washington. They have, in
addition to some fascinating and rare petrified woods on
display in the visitor center there, a number of other
Washington state rocks and minerals of interest. One of
these, as I recall, was something I'd not seen before,
labeled Ellensburg blue. It was described as a rather rare
agate, unique to this one location, and much prized by
collectors, occurring in a color range from pale bluish
white to quite bluish, almost as dark as lighter turquoise,
as I recall, though not as intense... Presumably this
comes from somewhere called Ellensburg in Washington state.
Don't have a map handy to look up exactly where that is, but
you can do that as easily as I.
The stuff is, from what I saw, rather unusual, since most
of the bluish to bluish gray agates I've seen before owe
their color to artificial dyes.
Natural blue color in agate is not at all common if its
actually a nice blue, rather than a pretty gray with faint
traces of bluish tint visible mostly to it's owner... (grin).

Does this help?

Peter Rowe

Subject: RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?

Ellensburg Blue is a chalcedony from the area near
Ellensburg, WA. It has an interesting history and some will
tell you it is not available, and that only a small amount
was ever available. For the very best, this is probably
true. What is usually seen, and very over-rated, is the
somewhat gray/blue material that has been found in many
areas of that part of Washington.

Cut it like any quartz material, but give it a high dome to
bring out the weak color. I would reserve "Ellensburg Blue"
to only the deepest of true blue color and no one has any
for sale as far as I know. Lapidary Journal did two very
good articles on the stuff: Jan 79 pg.2268, & Oct 84 pg.948.

Brewster McShaad, Riverside, CA


Subject: RE: Cutting Phenomenal Stones: Star Rose Quartz

Hi all,

Sometime back Hale asked if I'd do a re-write of
some email I had posted to the rockhounds mailing list
concerning cutting phenomena stones, so at the risk of
getting dropped from this list as well..

About 6 years ago I bought a $3.50 book from the
Lapidary Journal called "The Art of Gem Cutting" by Dr.
HE.CJ. Date. One article from this book covers cutting star
rose quartz & by following it's directions I've cut several
that I was very happy with. If your worried about the high
cost being unjustified, the inside cover says it's the
seventh edition since 1963 so it's stood the test of 34
years at least.

The first step is to start with good rough,
beginner or not. I started with self-collected rough from
Scribner's Ledge in Maine which cut excellent stars but was
mostly so transparent that it needed a mirror backing to
bring the star up. I believe I saw at a show some deep pink
opaque rough from New Era Gems, & have bought some pale
fractured rough from Knight's. Mark Liccini occasionally
has some & judging from his facet rough it should be quite
good, but could cost a few clams.

The first step is to cut a cube from a fracture
free area. Grind the cube into a rough sphere shape & bring
it up at least through a worn/wet 200 grit belt. Dry the
sphere & smear cooking oil over it for a pseudo-polish.
Hold the sphere directly under a bare light-bulb & rotate
it until you see a star. If you can't see a star you either
need to make a better polished sphere or you've accidentally
mixed up the star rough with the facet rose quartz which
might be why your rose quartz brilliant cuts aren't. It's
possible that some of the star rough just doesn't star.
This should become apparent fairly quickly since even while
rough grinding the sphere your likely to see bands of light
flashing back at you.

When you locate a 6 pointed star adjust it under
the light to make the sharpest star possible, with even
lengthened legs "*()". Mark the center of this star with a
pencil dot. Now flip the sphere & on the back exactly
opposite from the first star should be a second "*()*".
If not, you may need to go back to grinding & get a better
shaped/polished sphere.

Once you've marked both sides draw a line around
the sphere which is midway between the two dots "*(|)*".
You will need to cut the sphere in half along this line,
which might be easiest done by gluing a couple dop-sticks
out from each dot and then cutting by hand. "-*(|)*-".
I've run spheres thru without dopping but it's extremely
difficult to stop the sphere from spinning & leaning to
one side or the other.

Cut one or both halves as a normal cabochon with
the dot on top as the middle/high point of the cab. Rounds
are best initially. It's likely that you won't see the
star until the final polish. If the rough is too transparent
you will need a mirror polish on the bottom, & will need
to either glue some form of mirror (tinfoil etc.) on the
base, use a mirror polished bezel setting, or blacken the

Hope this helps,

Steve Griffis


Subject: RE: Waterglass

> I checked our local Pharmacy but they don't carry it ..

Call any chemical suppliers in the local yellow pages...but
as noted ask for sodium silicate. If that fails any mail
order chemical supplier....
Best wishes
G.B.A. Ltd


Subject: RE: Waterglass

"Waterglass" is the colloquial name for sodium silicate.
Farmer's used it to dip whole (in-the-shell) eggs in to
keep them from spoiling during the winter (sealed off the
shell to air). It also was used by the military to seal
water leaks in underground pipes on military bases. I use
it almost daily to glue flat-sided rock to wooden 2 x 4
pieces to put in my saw to assure perfect slices.

Don't think that using "waterglass" will seal off your
tiny pores or fibers. Try "Hot stuff" Super Gap Filling
Glue. The information you need to order it:
HST-2 SATELLITE CITY P.O. Box 839, Simi, CA 93062;
telephone (805)522-0062. It costs about $2.50-$3.00 (US)

Dale Brown
Rockhounds Esq.

non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: RE: Waterglass

-- Thanks everyone for your help with Waterglass. You'll
be pleased to know that with your help I found it readily
available at a Concrete Supply House. It seems that the
Concrete industry uses it often to coat basement floors and
driveways to keep the dust down and to seal the cement.
They had it in 45 Gal. drums......which I thought was a bit
much :) But he offered to sell me whatever amount I needed.
I opted for a gal.....not knowing how much I'd use.

But it seems I may have misunderstood an earlier issue.
I thought I had read where waterglass was the preferred
way to fill in fibers and pits before the final polish in
stones like Tiger Eye and Rainbow Obsidian. Was I correct
or mistaken?? Help please.

Thank You and take care..............Dave

Dave Daigle, Edmonton, Alberta

The Edmonton Tumblewood Lapidary Club

Subject: RE: Gaspeite as a Cabbing Material

In Issue 59, Lloyd Duncan reported that he had seen gaspeite
cabs in bracelets in a catalog, and wanted some rough for
cabbing. To find out about the rumor that large amounts
of it were offered for sale in Western Australia (WA), I
e-mailed the Minerals Council of Australia and asked them
about it. They said:

"If it is produced in Western Australia it is not of
significant commercial quantities. The only avenue still
available is to contact the Western Australian Department
of Minerals and Energy. As they grant all leases in the
State they should have access to this information."

So I e-mailed the WADME and they courteously replied:
"Gaspetite is a secondary mineral found in some lateritic
nickel deposits; it looks like green soap. The type
occurrence is from New Caledonia. In WA, some has been
found at Wingellina, and other occurrences may exist at
any of the lateritic nickel occurrences under detailed
investigation. We have no knowledge of gem or lapidary
quality specimens being mined, but it is quite possible
that material of such quality has been collected recently
during exploration on lateritic nickel deposits. Such
material would find its way into the local rock shops. The
US enquirer probably should contact some of the local gem
and rock dealers - see attached list (which is from the
latest yellow pages of the telephone directory)."

I have that list and will be glad to mail it to anyone
interested in following up on this, or post it in the


non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: RE: Leaking Lids on Lortone Tumbler

Ken Wetz, Hale, & Rick Martin in previous posts mentioned
pressure inside Lortone tumblers.

Sorry folks, but I have noticed the opposite of pressure
build up in my old Thumblers Tumbler (3lb. rubber cannister
with lid sealed in groove inside). Can't explain it either.
Have never seen pressure in the unit, only partial vacuum.

Could altitude have anything to do with it? I am in the
foothills of the Blue Ridge in Western NC.

I don't tumble much, mostly scraps from my trim saw to keep
the wife busy making gem trees and framed flower pictures of
stones .

Earl English

non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: Re: Leaky Lids on Lortones

I too have been having trouble with my tumbler lid not
sealing, but my problem is with the initial setup. What is
the trick to getting it to close up and stay closed in the
first place? The first time I did it, it held, and my 1
week initial grind was quite satisfactory without burping
or de-aerating or anything. But I've tried three times
without success to start stage two. A friend suggested I
was overtightening the screw in the middle of the lid, so
I turned it "just snug" as instructed. No joy. My book
said to be sure that the drum and lid were both very clean
at their juncture, so I wiped them oh-so-carefully, but the
thing still comes open within a minute. Help!

Non-commercial republication permission granted.

Subject: RE: Trim Saw

Cut slow and CAREFUL. Use both hands if you can and do not
push the stone with your fingers aiming for the saw blade.
If you have to push with something, use a soft brick
(piece of...) it will save a cut and if you do push the
brick into the blade, it will sharpen it! Most 4" saws have
a vice available, so get one if you can. Also, remember
that it is made for cutting small precious materials where
waste is the biggest factor, like faceting material, opal
and such. I have heard of some people that have glued the
material to small blocks of wood and dop sticks which makes
perfect sense, though I have yet to try that method. And
yes, a four inch blade (usually quite thin) zinging along
is every bit as dangerous as it looks!

Brewster McShaad, Riverside, CA

permission to republish granted
Ed. Note: Oddly enough, the very thin blade will cut flesh
but the thicker blades will not - they will abrade but not
slice. Thus a thin blade requires care in its use. Take
your time, don't push too hard, a light touch will do it,
and be very careful at the end of the cut. And remember,
it is NOT a slab saw; it is a trim saw. Treat it
accordingly! hale)
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