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1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 68 - Fri 10/03/97
2. NEW: OPAL variety hyalite
3. RE: OPAL variety hyalite
4. NEW : Lapidary Club near Hatfield, Mass
5. NEW: Indemnity form
6. RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?
7. RE: Leaking Lortone Lids
8. RE: Leaking Lortone Lids
9. RE: Causes of Pits in Formed and Carved Jasper
10. FS: Stones, Rough and Equipment
Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 68 - Fri 10/03/97
I need input from you, the members - what do you want
to see on these pages, what do you want to learn about
lapidary, other than reading the answers to the questions
which members send in? Are there any special topics which
interest you? For example, how to polish? How to make a
doublet? How to etch obsidian? Other ways to dop? What? If
you have special interests, I can probably get someone expert
in that area to write an article on it. Please think about it
and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have adequate safety equipment? - Goggles and something
to keep dust out of your lungs? Do you have emergency first
aid stuff near your lapidary equipment? Do you know what to
do if you get something thrown in your eye? I hope your
answers to all these is 'yes'; if it isn't, then please do
something about it- get a good first aid book, think about
the dangers in the shop, and what sorts of injuries you may
incur. Study up on how to treat these injuries, and get the
right medications/bandages/etc for each of them, and put them
near the equipment. But more importantly, think about how you
can avoid each of these, and put those thoughts into practice.
Let's all enjoy lapidary, safely! And have fun with it!
Next issue probably Monday.
Subject: NEW: OPAL variety hyalite
(Ed. Note: This note is a bit away from the topic of
Lapidary, and ordinarily I would have sent it back
suggesting it go to Rocks-and-Fossils and Rockhounds.
But along the way the return address became lost and
the best alternative now is to include it.... with a
note from a NC geologist about hyalite opal.)
Bill and I bought a supply of rocks from a friend who is
now dead. Among these things, we found some specimen,
carefully wrapped and labeled, "Mitchell, N.C. - 1954".
We know that she hunted rocks in that area at that time.
Neither of us recognized the material so we decided to find
out what we could. Only one person, Aaron Spector of the
Miami Mineralogical and Lapidary Guild, knew anything about
it. He called it hyalite opal and said that it was quite
I would like to obtain some more information about this
material which we have been told was found at Chalk Mountain,
Spruce Pine, Mitchell County NC. It is colorless to
slightly yellow/sometimes bluish and forms in a stalactic
formation. An old timer in the area, Luther Thomas, told
me that there is no more available and that it is all in
private collections. We also spoke with Luther's son, Ira,
who confirmed this tale.
We have also been told that this formation has never been
found anywhere else in the world but have been unable to
find any information in our numerous mineral reference books
Frederick H. Pough in his "a Field Guide to Rocks and
Minerals" writes "Colorless to blue hyalite is common on
seams in pegmatites in the Spruce Pine, North Carolina
district.." He does not, however, make mention of the
stalactic formation. If anyone knows anything about this
particular material, please let me know.
(Ed. Note: I sent a copy of this query to Kenny Gay, a
geologist who knows NC minerals, who works with NC
Geological Survey (and who is a friend) and asked him
to comment. His response follows. hale)
Subject: RE: OPAL variety hyalite
Hyalite opal is one of the more common minerals in the
Spruce Pine district. At one time it was very common at
the Chalk Mountain Mine. It comes in several shades of
clear to yellow-green, but the best is a sky blue variety.
The beautiful sky blue on white pegmatite makes fantastic
specimens and command a nice price. Today the blue material
is very hard to find, I have 5 or 6 in my collection and
treasure each one of them.
It forms small globule-like to small, 5 to 15 mm, "stacks"
of globules that do resemble stalagtite-like formations.
It is probably best to avoid the term "stalagtite" because
people think of the huge cave formations. Hyalite opal is
simply opal with about 0.003% uranium oxides. The trace U
causes hyalite to be one of the most fluorescent minerals
I know of. The clear and yellowish colors are the most
fluorescent, the blue has just enough copper to suppress
the fluorescence. Copper is a fluorescent killer. Hyalite
is one of the last minerals to form during crystallization,
therefore it often coats all other minerals. At Spruce
Pine the hyalite forms on joint surfaces in the pegmatite
Hyalite was found at many of the mines in Mitchell Co. so
if a label says "Mitchell Co., NC" I would not say it had
to have come from Chalk Mountain Mine.
In addition to Mitchell Co. Hyalite has been found at:
Klamath Falls Oregon; Cerritos area, Cerro del Tepozan,
San Luis Potosi, Mexico; Japan; Waltsch, Bohemia, Czech
Republic; Frankfort, Germany; Bohnnitz, Hungary;
Jordensmühle, Poland; Kaiserstühl, Switzerland; & Santa
Fiora, Italy. I can't imagine anyone saying that hyalite
is rare in Mitchell Co. I think the locals in Spruce Pine
are trying to drive up prices of local material by
claiming rarity. I could not believe the prices up
there when we were at Wildacres in August.
I hope this helps, let me know if I can be of any more
Subject: NEW : Lapidary Club near Hatfield, Mass
-- Greetings Everyone. I'm looking for a Lapidary Club in or
around Hatfield, Mass. Anyone know of one?
Dave Daigle, Edmonton, Alberta
The Edmonton Tumblewood Lapidary Club
Subject: NEW: Indemnity form
As Chairman of the Workshop committee, I am trying to find
the best wording for an indemnity form to be signed by each
person using the workshop and equipment.
Gilbert F. Douglas, III
Alabama Mineral and Lapidary Society
Subject: RE: What is "Ellensburg Blue"?
In response to those who said that there is none of this
material (Ellensburg Blue) available, I have found that there
is. Olympic Mountain Gems has some rough offered for sale.
In my homepage,
there is a link to their listings of blue agate for sale.
Also, in June '97, Lapidary Journal ran a featured cover
article on the new Mt. Airy Blue chalcedony from my home
state of Nevada, that is quite lovely.
<Sam at N1SILVER@aol.com
Ed. Note: I had trouble finding the Olympic Gem web page from
the URL given above, so I went hunting and found it directly;
Olympic Gems page showing Ellensburg Blue is:
Subject: RE: Leaking Lortone Lids
Someone mentioned getting a vacuum in their tumbler. This
is what I get. I thought it was because I used water as
hot as I could handle while setting up the tumbler or
changing grit. I have had tumblers let loose, but it was
always my own fault. Either I didn't clean the rim well
enough (leaving stone in there), or not tightening the
plastic nut enough. As usual, haste makes lots of little
non commercial republish is OK
(Ed. Note: It makes sense, Steve, that you would get a
partial vacuum. Heating water will deaerate it and very hot
water is largely deaerated. Possibly deaerated water,
during tumbling action, picks up air (as water does in a
fish tank with a bubbler) and this reduces the volume of air
in the tumbler. If the seal is tight enough, this may
account for the partial vacuum developing in the tumbler.
Ken Wetz said that he lets water sit in a pail for a few
days to de-areate before using it in a tumbler, as he felt
this helped with the pressure problem. If the hypothesis
about vacuum is correct, then Ken may also get a partial
vacuum in the tumbler, but probably not as strong as Steve
gets, who uses very hot water, since heating water to a
high temperature should deaerate more then just letting
water sit around.
Still no one has come forward with good reasons for the
pressure build-up. Any suggestions? hale)
Subject: RE: Leaking Lortone Lids
I agree with Earl English's comments regarding the Lortone
tumblers. I have a double-barrel style tumbler, each with a
6 lb. capacity. They have been running almost non-stop for
a year now and have never leaked. The only thing I can think
of besides keeping the rim of the inside cover and the edge
of the barrel clean (as you said) is to push the inside cover
down as hard as you can and as far as it will go, even to the
point of almost "burping" it as you would Tupperware. When I
put the outside lid on, I push it down as far as it will go
(if my husband isn't around, I have to stand on the barrel
and push the outer lid down with my body weight to get it all
the way closed), then I tighten the screw knob "finger tight",
I have a difficult time sometimes getting the thing open
because of the almost vacuum effect. I have also noticed that
an extremely small amount of liquid from inside the barrel
leaks just enough to form almost a glue between the inner lid
and the barrel, thus preventing further leakage. You might
try rubbing a little vegetable cooking oil on both the edge
of the inner seal and the ridge of the barrel where the inner
seal sits before sealing the inner lid. I had to do this with
my first tumbler (very small children's model) because the
oil helps form a seal to prevent leakage.
Outside of these comments, I don't have any more ideas.
Good luck, though, and sorry about the mess.
Rollin' Stones Rocks & Stuff
Non-Commercial republish permission granted.
Subject: RE: Causes of Pits in Formed and Carved Jasper
Some of the causes for pits are too much pressure (heat
build-up that causes pieces to slough off) in the sanding
operation...heat build-up while polishing, same problem
as sanding. Sometimes it is the impurities in the jasper
that acts like soft spots in jade. I did a paperweight
carving out of Bruneau jasper once that required
resanding three or four times before the problem
disappeared. When you sand and polish, are you continually
moving the stone to keep the heat not building up in one
area? Another advantage about having to resand something
is that you often end up with a great polish. Note also
that you rarely should have to grind, nor use the heavier
grits to take out those little annoying vugs. But now &
then you have to and you do end up with a different shaped
item when done. As to your "why", you forgot to mention
"material" which is often the culprit. You did not mention
the type of equipment nor your methods. It could be one of
several factors that is causing the problem.
Brewster McShaad, Riverside, CA
permission to republish granted
(Ed. Note: When I first learned to cut cabs, I took a class
in Opal Cutting, and in the excitement of sanding my first
opal, (on a Genie), I forgot to move the water spitter to
wet the wheel, and wound up with a cab deeply pitted!
Don't understand it - may have been excessive heat - but
it was pitted all over the surface. I learned to keep lots
of water on the wheel while sanding! Never forgot that
Subject: FS: Stones, Rough and Equipment
I am selling out due to health the following: amber[insects];
many facetted and cab gemstones and rough;mineral specimens;
bead necklaces;some equipment left: all going at about 1/4
imported cost for the imported goods, others equally very
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