Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site: http://www.lapidarydigest.com
Associate Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder, Steve Henegar
and Margaret Malm
This list digest contains the following message subjects:
1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 216 - Tues 6/29/99
2. NEW: Suiseki - Is It a Form of Lapidary?
3. NEW: Black Jade from Costa Rica
4. NEW: Polishing with TXP and #61 compounds
5. NEW: Want to Build a Large Flat Lap
6. NEW: What Happened to Star Diamond?
7. NEW: Who Can Straighten Large Diamond Blades?
8. NEW: Making Diamond Core Drills at MK Diamond
9. RE: Upgrading from a Cabmate
10. RE: What is Lapis Nevada?
11. RE: What is Lapis Nevada?
12. RE: Do-It-Yourself Drip Tank Plumbing
13. RE: Rotten Stone
14. BIO: Messelt
15. BIO: Dave Garner
16. BIO: Vi Jones
Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 216 - Tues 6/29/99
Had a great scare today -- lost my monitor, but thought it
was the hard drive or motherboard! Using my old monitor
till I can see if they can repair the broken one.
Then, on checking, realized that my backup system wasn't up
to snuff. So after I get this issue out, I'm going to spend
time worrying about backup.
Next week, I will be at the AFMS and SFMS meetings in
Nashville. If you are going, please look me up or stop me
if you see me and lets chat! That is a sneaky way of saying
that there probably won't be two issues published next week.
Take care of yourselves -- and be sure to hug those you
love. Try it, you will find that it is FUN!! (smile)
Subject: NEW: Suiseki - Is It a Form of Lapidary?
In Japan there is an art form called suiseki involving the
study and enjoyment of individual, naturally formed stones
as objects of beauty. Many devotees hunt for rocks which
have natural beauty and which strongly suggest an image of
an object or scene from nature (called 'suggestiveness').
Once found, they are studied to find the most appealing
part of the stone, and the stone is then displayed to
emphasize that part; in some cases, this entails cutting
off part of the stone so the base will be flat. As far as
I could tell, cutting the base is about the maximum big
scale alteration most devotees will tolerate.
I knew nothing about it, so went to Alta Vista and did a
search on the word SUISEKI, and AV found almost 900 pages
in which this word appeared. I briefly scanned a dozen or
so of them, and the best site I found was
www.felixrivera-suiseki.com. Looking at the rocks in the
picture gallery in this site, I was attracted to the beauty
of the stones and their presentations as shown there. I
highly recommend that you tour his website, and several
others, to gain a whole new perspective on rocks. The word:
Suiseki (pronounced su-e-seck-e) is derived from the
Japanese characters for water (sui) and stone (seki), hence
a 'water stone' - but more correctly a stone shaped by the
erosive action of water. And partially shaped by the owner
of the stone.
Is this part of lapidary? I think you may argue both ways
on this, but selfishly, I would include it at the edge of
lapidary as I would like to have it a part of lapidary.
Subject: NEW: Black Jade from Costa Rica
While in Costa Rica, I received a couple of carvings from a
lady who is the historian for the Bri Bri Tribe of indians,
and a full blooded Bri Bri herself. This tribe inhabits the
southeastern part of Costa Rica. She is also a professor of
anthropology at one university and a professor of forestry
at another. She said they were carved from Black Jade which
she said is unique to Costa Rica.
Is anyone familiar with Black Jade from Costa Rica. Is it
really jade or something else?
Subject: NEW: Polishing with TXP and #61 compounds
I came across some polish compounds that I have no idea
what they are good for. One is called TXP and another
is called # 61. Since I have acquired several bags of TXP
and # 61, I would like to use them with my tumbling. If
anyone knows what material they will work best with, and
how to use them, I would appreciate the information.
Subject: NEW: Want to Build a Large Flat Lap
I finally need your help, too. Just finished sending an
e-mail to Andy in UK asking for his help if he has plans
to build a large flat lap. I need something large to
accommodate large glass bowls, such as punch bowls, etc.
The All-U-Need's 8-inches is a bit small and the center
post gets in the way. I would probably spend big bucks to
get magnetic grinding plates in course and fine grits.
Any ideas? Thanks,
Bryan/College Station, Texas
Ron: Since you mention All-U-Needs, I assume that you are
focusing on rotating laps? Have you considered vibrating
flat laps? They are made in quite large sizes. I know we
have a number of members who are experienced on using them,
and I hope we hear from some of them. hale
Subject: NEW: What Happened to Star Diamond?
<Vance McCallum wanted to know what happened to Star
Diamond saw company (they are gone!) and who does their
blade straightening now. We received several answers, shown
below. These answers have been edited to remove repetitions.
I have been a subscribing member since issue #33 and enjoy
every one. About Vance McCallum's request for information
regarding Star Diamond's departure from the diamond blade
manufacture and repair scene, I think I can help. I have
been a slab dealer in Northern California and do my own
slabbing and have dealt with Star Diamond and the company
that has taken over their business.
Star Diamond blade repair is now being done by: Barranca
Industries, 1825 So. Broadway Street, Gardena, CA 90248,
Dale Brown (email@example.com)(www.rockhoundsesq.com)
Delahaut, President of Barranca Corp. in Gardena has
recently acquired the former Star Diamond Industries
West lapidary blade (notched rim) factory near Los
Funny you should ask. Yesterday I went to MK Diamond to
drop off my blade to be straightened. When I priced blades
two(?) years ago I was struck by the fact that everyone
quoted exactly the same price for the blade size I wanted.
I came to the conclusion then that most if not all blades
were actually made by the same company. Seems companies
move around and fade away: MK used to make Highland Park
equipment (and Frantom (the maker of my saw) was just down
MK Diamond 1315 Storm Parkway, Torrance CA, 90509-2803
The big news is that they run their oven once a month and
that is next week. I should get my blade back ~ July 1.
If you dont want to wait a month it might be Fed-Ex time.
You might want to call the guy who does the actual
straightening at Barranca Corporation to ask if its not too
late. The address of Barranca is different and MK carries
the blades over to them.
The address of Barranca Corp is 18205 South Broadway Street,
Gardena, CA 90248-3535, phone 310 523 5867, fax 310 523
5869. I do not know if it is appropriate to send blades
directly. I do know they want payment in advance. The rates
are surprisingly low: for 20" blade its $38 including
Interestingly Barranca Corp. is run by the son of an/the
owner of MK diamond.
Subject: NEW: Who Can Straighten Large Diamond Blades?
Hale posted a brief request on my behalf for information on
where to contact Star Diamond Company or whoever bought them
out, since I needed to send them one of my 14 inch diamond
blades to be straightened.
Right after the last Digest came out, I got my answer. (see
above) I called Barranca, and they said it would take a
month to do the job.
So, I am wondering if anyone knows of another place to send
blades to be straightened that might be faster and - since
I am in S.C. - closer than California to send it to.
Earth Relics Company
"Ready-to-wear pendants made from
the finest agates and jaspers"
Vance: You live smack-dab (that's what they say down where
Vance lives!!) in the middle of a large logging and lumber
area; both rough and finished sawmills use large circular
blades which need straightening from time to time. I suggest
you look in the Yellow pages for sawmills, lumber and the
like and ask the sawyers where they send their saws.
Probably to some skilled mechanic just in the next town!
Subject: NEW: Making Diamond Core Drills at MK Diamond
While I was dropping off my blade for repair (see above),
Roland at MK Diamond spontaneously offered to give me a
tour of their factory where they make a BEAUTIFUL core
drilling machine and assemble tile saws. They had stacks
of the tile saws boxed and ready and a bunch of people
assembling more and he said they were 35,000 units behind.
It was noisy and I tell myself I must have misheard. I
guess if you sell your tools to Home Depot you sell quite
The core drills were VERY nice. Sleek looking two speed
motor (900 & 450 rpm). Apparently their competitors use
a casting for the hub of the bit so their tubes wobble a
little. MK's are machined from hex stock and welded. They
are made backwards, so the final steps in drilling and
threading the bit are done last so they are assured to be
coaxial with the tube. OK, here is their diamond trick:
They make little curved blocks of sintered diamond and
"laser weld" them onto the edge of the tube. If you knock
off a block you cut off the last half inch of the tube and
weld on a new set.
They are going to Madras next month to show off their core
drill and some kind of system by which they make 4 or 6 cuts
to preform a sphere. Another reason to wish I were there
this summer. How 'bout a report from someone going to the
Flint: To me, the most exciting thing you report was on
their new system for cutting sphere preforms; I hope that
some list member who goes to Madras or some list sphere
maker in California near the plant will go over and get
full details on this and write it up for the Digest. I
had heard that there already was such a device available,
but could never run it down.
Sounds like you enjoyed your tour, Flint. Thanks for the
Subject: RE: Upgrading from a Cabmate
Bob Lombardi has invited advice from others who have tackled
the limitations imposed by use of a Graves "Cabmate" with
it's ability to spin only a single device at a time, be it
wheel, grinding disc, polishing pad or saw blade. He points
to the hassle of changing wheels between grades of grit and
to problems with overheating when using a dry diamond disk.
I started cabbing with a Cabmate about 20 years ago and
faced these same problems; I felt that my equipment was
limiting my output. I investigated and considered many other
machines, including the Pixie, the Genie and the Titan. In
the end, I decided that I really didn't want to give up the
tremendous versatility provided by my Cabmate and so I
found a way to overcome it's limitations. Rather than
upgrading from a Cabmate, I upgraded my Cabmate and the
equipment I now use is, I believe, the best available.
Everything is cut wet. When I use a diamond disk, I lead
water to the center of the disk, near the spindle, and
centrifugal force spreads it all over the disk. Thus, no
overheating and no flying stones. To make the plastic water
tube stay where you put it, it helps to thread a copper
wire up inside it.
To get over the problem of having to change wheels, I got a
6" diameter by 2 1/2" wide rubber expanding drum. This fits
nicely on the Cabmate and although I was worried that it
might be too heavy, I've used it for several years with no
trouble. I had to extend the splash guard with a bit of
flexible plastic, but this was very simple. I use diamond
belts in a range of grits. To change abrasive I just stop
the drum and slip one belt off and another on; it takes less
than 10 seconds.
I have about a dozen belts that I have accumulated over the
years, in various diamond grit sizes and various states of
wear and I use them in different combinations, depending on
what material I'm cutting, for everything from rough shaping
to prepolish. Overall, they range from 60 grit to 3600 grit.
I have tried several brands of diamond belt and have been
best pleased with those by Crystallite, although there are
some new ones by Ebersole, available from the Rock Peddlar,
that also seem to be good and are much less expensive. I've
recently tried the Ebersole 60 grit belt, and it is
astonishing! It chews through Morrisonite at incredible
speed; one would never use it for opal!
For polishing, I use either 14,000 grit spray diamond on a
polypad on a rubber faced disk, or cerium oxide on wet
leather; the latter for quartz or feldspar type stones and
the diamond for everything else. Once again, I direct a
water supply to the center of the disk and find that
regulating the drip speed is important for getting a good
With my upgraded Cabmate, I can cut any material, from the
softest soapstone to the toughest jasper, from 2 mm
hemispheres, dopped on toothpicks for mouse eyes, to big
chunks for belt buckles and bolas. I particularly enjoy
cutting opal and spectrolite for pendants and earrings and
my machine is perfect for this. I like it so much that I
bought a second one to have in our mountain cabin, so that
I am not deprived when we go up there for summer weekends.
I hope this helps;
Note: I have seen Jeff work on his modified Cabmate, and, it
may be the way he works, but it appears to be just as fast
as I could work on a Genie, with the added advantage that
he is able to select - not only the grit - but the degree
with which the grit is worn. And this can be very useful,
especially when working stones such as jade. hale
Subject: RE: What is Lapis Nevada?
Good thing I wrote this down years ago. The query about
Nevada Lapis reoccurs periodically. It was discovered in
1954, and is composed of zoisite var. thulite, scapolite,
sericite, diopside and epidote, with minor feldspar, quartz,
zoisite, clinozoisite, actinolite and apatite
Source: Colored Stone, Jan./Feb., 1991, p. 21
Subject: RE: What is Lapis Nevada?
I found one answer, given below, in a search of the 'Net;
it came from "Ask Prof Gem" (aka Jamie Foster), whose web
page is at URL =
This is reproduced below with his permission.
What is Nevada Lapis?
April 7, 1997
This turned out to be an interesting question.. The original
questioner described some recently purchased beads as
"mottled moss-green and soft pink". The buyer was told they
were "Nevada Lapis".
Finding no reference to such in my library, I did what any
good cyberjocky would do - post some questions and make some
email contacts. And the good folks at Rio Grande responded,
"Nevada Lapis is a form of chalcedony from the Orient,
varying in shades from pastel pink, green, beige, gray,
yellow, and white. Essentially, Nevada Lapis looks like an
agate in pastels. Nevada Lapis, or Nevada stone, is a form
of chalcedony. It is a relatively safe material (can be
cleaned in an ultrasonic machine), it's relatively stable
(it can take light), and the name Nevada Lapis is a
misnomer, because it is neither from Nevada nor in the
lapis family of stones. The product manager likens it to
unakite, with a different color scheme."
The folks at the Four Clover Mine (Castro Valley, CA,
510-537-7868) tell us about "Lapis Nevada" which they
carry. Here is a report by Michael R. Smith, Geologist:
"The scientific name for Lapis Nevada is thulite-diopside
skarn. It is a rock composed of at least ten distinct
minerals including: thulite, diopside, clinozoisite
(locally Mn-rich), microcline, sericite, titanite, epidote,
plagioclase, scapolite, actinolite and quartz. The pink
color is due to the presence of thulite and Mn-rich
clinozoisite, the green is due to diopside, and the cream
color is mostly due to the presence of Mn-poor clinozoisite,
microcline and scapolite. The Lapis Nevada skarn is of
hydrothermal origin, having been formed from a granite
which is 171 million years old."
"All of the minerals forming this "gem skarn" are silica
rich, which gives Lapis Nevada its hardness and ability to
take a polish. Skarn has never before been found to occur
as a gemstone."
"The minerals in the Lapis Nevada indicate that the original
rock (protolith) was granitic in composition. The general
character of the endoskarn is very similar to that of
Yerington Batholith rocks. These batholitic rocks, ranging
in composition from diorite to granite, are known to exist
in the east side of the Pine Nut Range. The age (K/Ar
determination of these rocks has been well established at
171 m.y.b.p. (million years before present). These rocks
are associated with the giant porphyry copper deposit near
"This author knows of no other place in the world where
skarn is found to occur as gem-quality material. This type
of skarn is known from various places around the world, but
nowhere is it as colorful as Lapis Nevada. The brightness
of the pink thulite and green diopside in combination is
unique in the world."
Hope this helps
Subject: RE: Do-It-Yourself Drip Tank Plumbing
<<...Almaden (not an endorsement) recently introduced an
all plastic valve with a rotational handle to control flow
on its boxed wine. I have adapted one to my drip tank.
It provides almost infinite control and hasn't clogged
Interesting use of recyclable material. I use a gallon milk
jug that has an IV tube and control valve inserted through
a hole in the top. The tube is long enough to reach from
the shelf above my machine to the old water can carrier.
The IV tubes can be had by having surgery, or visiting a
friend in the hospital. You don't need the needles, just
the tube and small plastic control with the wheel (the
cut-off doesnt work too well for a controlled drip rate).
Earl: Don't you think that having surgery just to get
an IV-drip set is a little drastic? (smile) hale
Subject: RE: Rotten Stone
On Fri, 25 Jun 99, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
<<Does anybody out there in "LapDigest World" know where
"rotten-stone" might be available. Sinkankas (in Gemstone
and Mineral Data Book, p. 72) described it as a deeply
weathered siliceous limestone.>>
We received three replies:
"Rottenstone and pumice are used in finishing furniture.
You should be able to find it in a woodworker's supply,
a hardware store, or a paint store. by Al Balmer
"Rotten stone is some times used in finishing furniture; it
is used to rub out finishes much like powdered pumice. You
may try a paint store (larger commercial) or a good old time
hardware store. It does have a bit of a earthy smell too it
hence the name. by Jeff in Kalamazoo
"I used to buy rottenstone and pumice at Standard Brands
Paint Stores. Don't know if the stores are still around.
You might be able to buy rottenstone at a 'good' wood
refinishing supply shop. by Bill Eisenberg
Subject: BIO: Messelt
Hi, I'm Messelt from Rancho Cucamonga, CA.- an at-home mom
with three kids and caring for my Dad. I'm new to lapidary
and the net and exploring both for free time (ha-ha)
pleasure and possible income later down the line when I know
more about what I'm doing.
I live in the San Bernardino County/L.A. County area, and
am looking for a club to join, classes to take and people
to talk to about stone carving.
My email address is:
Any help would be much appreciated.
Subject: BIO: Dave Garner
Hi, I started collecting gem stones about 5 years ago and
thought it would be fun to make some of my own. Labradorite
and Opal are some of my favorites with a side interest in
asterism type stones.
I have now a rock rascal 6" trim saw and am getting a
Graves Cabmate soon . As you can tell I would appreciate
any and all suggestions.
Happy cabbing to all.
Subject: BIO: Vi Jones
I like to consider myself a "jewelry artist" constructing
truly original works of art. My art starts with cutting
the stone (faceting, carving or cabochon(s) and then
designing and completing the metalwork. I am retired and
have been working in this hobby since 1989 when I was able
to join the Skagit Rock & Gem Club.
I have a complete shop and have recently purchased a
Gryphon stone lathe (at the NFMS show silent auction in
Hillsboro). If anyone out there is doing any turning--I
would like to hear from you, although I know a young lady
who can teach me the rudiments.
I've done quite a few soapstone carvings and maybe will
enter them in competition some year. Competing is
interesting and challenging. My husband and I still enjoy
collecting, have lots of lapidary friends and are active
in club work.
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