Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site:
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. 218 - Fri 7/2/99
2. RE: Do-It-Yourself Drip Tank Plumbing (Revised)
3. RE: Who Can Straighten Large Diamond Blades?
4. RE: Suiseki - Is It A Form of Lapidary
5. RE: Suiseki - Is It A Form of Lapidary
6. Re: Suiseki - Is It a Form of Lapidary?
7. Re: Large Scale Rock Tumbling
8. RE: Minerals in Mexican Psilomelane
9. RE: Minerals in Mexican Psilomelane
10. RE: Minerals in Mexican Psilomelane
11. Re: Polishing with TXP and #61 compounds
12. SHOW: Nashville AFMS Show
13. SHOW: Nashville AFMS Show
15. BIO: Lorna Quinton


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 218 - Fri 7/2/99

The draft for this issue was ready, so I am publishing it
before I head out to Nashville. Be back in a week, there
won't be any issues till then.

Hey, everybody, when you want to send a message to Lapidary
Digest, please do NOT use the "Reply to Sender" button, but
rather, open a mail form and type in our address: on the letter form. If you use the
'Reply to Sender' button, you will send an entire issue of
Lapidary Digest back to the Digest, and my poor ol' soft-
ware can't take all of that data at once, and lops off the
bottom - which might be your letter!! Thanks.....

And if you have forgotten how to reply or unsubscribe or
access the Archives, see the note at the end of each issue.

Take care of yourselves while I'm gone. Hug and kiss the
ones you love, today and tomorrow..... and above all, have


Subject: RE: Do-It-Yourself Drip Tank Plumbing (Revised)

(OK, guys, I screwed up something in the last issue. Flint
wrote some good stuff about drip tank plumbing. I didn't
understand some of it and wrote asking him to explain, and
fully intended to hold his note till I got his answer. But
NO! It forgot to take it out of the draft before publishing
the issue. Here is his rewrite of his note from #217:)

There has been some discussion of water supply solutions
and I thought I would add a little to the flow.

The drip rate depends on the "head", the difference in
height between the top of the water in your bottle and the
dripping outlet. If the shelf that the bottle rests on is
not very high (compared to the outlet), the difference
between a full bottle and a nearly empty bottle can be a big
difference in the head. If the shelf is even with the
outlet and the level in the bottle drops by 6 inches as the
bottle goes from full to empty, the flow will decrease a lot
as the bottle empties and the head decreases (coming to a
complete stop when the bottle is empty). You will have to
keep adjusting the flow with your IV clamp. For this
reason, if you want to use a box-wine-with-a-spigot, you
should lay the box on it's side so the height difference
between full and empty is minimized. If the shelf is much
higher an the drip then this wont be a problem, but it can
be a pain to fill the bottle.

(Bio)chemists use a trick that eliminates this problem.
Instead of an open bottle, a stopper is used to control how
air gets into the bottle. A tube is sealed into a hole
through the stopper. The tube runs down into the bottle to
about an inch or so of the bottom. As water is drawn from
the bottle, air is sucked down the tube until it can bubble
back up inside. This sucking action redefines the "top of
the water" as the place where the bubbles appear, at the
bottom of the tube. This way, the head does not change as
water is drawn from the bottle until the level drops below
the bottom of the tube.

If your water bottle does not drain from the bottom, that
is, if you siphon the water over the top edge, you will have
to run your siphon tube through the stopper as well. The
bottle must be sealed because this works by building a
partial vacuum in the bottle that "lifts" the water above
the bubble inlet. When you first fill the bottle it will
flow fast for a little while until the vacuum develops,
but then the flow will be constant until the bottle is
nearly empty.


Subject: RE: Who Can Straighten Large Diamond Blades?

Hale, I don't know if there is another way to reply to the
digest, other than to reply to sender, but here goes.

Keith had two 18" diamond saw blades hammered out by
Johnson Bros., 18434 Oxnard St. Unit G, Tarzana, CA 91356,
(818) 795-7400 FAX (818) 705-02331, Free FAX (800)335-4580
in USA and they did a much better job than the local
sawmill sawfiler. And it cost him less than $40.00 for
the two of them last year. I don't know what the original
$ estimate was in the beginning question, but hope this is
helpful. Keith uses his 18" blade to cut thick
slabs from big rocks, then takes the slabs to the 10" trim
saw to cut the cubes for making his marbles, so the blade
has to be just right. He said that the sawfiler made
them worse than the were before he started trying to get it
fixed. But he has had some done locally that turned out

Keith and Ann Berger
Round Rocks Etc.
Check our site for GREAT hand made marbles

Subject: RE: Suiseki - Is It A Form of Lapidary

On Thu, 1 Jul 1999 wrote:

<<You are right about cutting be minimal. You are allowed
only to flatten the base.>>

I told my brother-in-law about this thread, and he reminds
me that there is an acceptable way to modify the shape of a
suiseki specimen - you can put it under falling water for a
few hundred years.


Subject: RE: Suiseki - Is It A Form of Lapidary


Thanks for your info and attached URL for Suiseki. I
hesitate to give an opinion regarding it being/not being a
form of lapidary because to me it's immaterial; however, I
was pleased to learn that something I had been doing for a
while had an actual name and might be considered an art
form. I just assumed that finding an interesting,
esthetically pleasing rock and flattening a side to form a
base was a fun thing to do.

I have a small one laced with chrysocolla, azurite and
malachite that is named Mackay Mountain from its origin at
the defunct Empire Copper Mine near Mackay, Idaho. Another
miniature I call Spencer Opal Mountain, sporting some
flashy areas of precious opal, came from the original
Spencer Opal Mine, also in Idaho. (They quickly became
the property of my wife.) As time passes I hope to obtain a
much larger mountain and be able to appropriately call it
something like DeBeers Peak or Kimberly Mountain.

Seriously, thank you for the Suiseki information. I’d not
mind at all if it became a theme of your excellent Lapidary
Digest. What a splendid service you offer your subscribers!

Gail Clark

Subject: Re: Suiseki - Is It a Form of Lapidary?

I had a large collection of suiseki; it was a gift from a
fine lady. Sold most of them and gave a few away. Kept a
few, too. Even mounted a large mineral sample into an oak

An easy reading book on the subject: "The Japanese Art of
Stone Appreciation, Suiseki and Its Use with Bonsai"
by Vincent T. Covello and Yuji Yoshimura

If you search the WEB a bit, you will find a lot of links.
Corresponded with a collector in England.

Somewhere I have the name for this art style as it is
called in Chinese, who claim inventing it. Don't know of
any links to Chinese.

Bill Eisenberg in sunny Vista


Subject: Re: Large Scale Rock Tumbling

I'm currently building a 5 gallon plastic-bucket tumbler,
but I toyed with this. I saved an old tire recently when I
bought a new set for my car, but it's "merely" a size
165/13, pretty small. An experiment with my 12 lb Lortone
tumbler barrel showed that the tire wouldn't hold
appreciably more than the 12 lb barrel! I filled the barrel
3/4 full of water and dumped it into the tire to test this.
Of course, you can't fill the tire above the inner rim.

I've heard that the right answer is to get a big truck axle,
wheel, and tire (or pair if you have a full axle and two
wheels) from a junkyard. Look for split-rim wheels. I guess
you mount the axle to a 1/4 or 1/2 HP motor, and you attach
the tire to the axle by bolting together the wheel halves.

Seems simple enough -- but very big -- too big for MY

Alan Silverstein

Subject: RE: Minerals in Mexican Psilomelane

{{Can anyone tell me the mineral constituents in a
particular Psilomelane hat comes from Mexico. This
material is very distinctive and well suited for making
fabulous jet black cabochons with swirling, silvery lines
reminiscent of agates.}}


The material to which you are referring may be agatized
Psilomelane. It has been sold under the names of Crown of
Silver Agate and Corona del Plata Agate. A more complete
description of the sources of these names is in my agate
bibliography and lexicon at the below URL:


After you get to the above site, scroll down to Agate
Resources. Look first for the names in the agate lexicon.
The lexicon will have bibliographic sources as to where the
material has been recorded in the literature. I don't
believe that I currently have an illustration of Crown of
Silver or Corona del Plata illustrated on the agate page.
Some similar material that has been offered as agatized
Psilomelane is illustrated in the Agate Page along with the
Arizona material.

Hope this helps.

Roger K. Pabian

Subject: RE: Minerals in Mexican Psilomelane

Be sure to check out: Potter, R. M. and Rossman, G. R.,
Mineralogy of manganese dendrites and coatings, American
Mineralogist, 64:1219-1226. The most startling discovery is
that pyrolusite dendrites do not exist, or are so rare that
they couldn't be found in the 200 or so classic locations
they tested. It also seems that pyrolusite is a bit rarer
than used to be supposed and it is not even the most common
manganese oxide.


Subject: RE: Minerals in Mexican Psilomelane

This material was/is marketed as "Crown of Silver" and may
not be Psilomelane at all. My personal name for it is
"Black Malachite" because that's what the silver patterns
make me think of. It's beautiful, saw-damaging material.
I've never checked the hardness but it sure is tough and
difficult to slab.

I can't answer your main question, but here's what John
Sinkankas wrote about it in the second edition (ancient!)
of "Gem Cutting:"

"Microscopic observations on polished material, plus
specific gravity and refractive index determinations, show
it to be chalcedony heavily impregnated with a black
mineral which may or may not be Psilomelane. Due to the
content of chalcedony, the material reacts in much the
same manner but is liable to undercut where bands are
heavily impregnated with the black mineral."

I've cut a fair amount of it on diamond equipment and have
never had a problem with undercutting. But it sure bent a
saw blade! When using auto-feed, sharpen your blade often
(like after every slab!) The piece I slabbed was about
3 x 5 inches.

Rick Martin
"Richard O. Martin"

Subject: Re: 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.>>

I have never run across TXP but #61 is another name for
Rapid Polish. It is a .3 micron aluminum oxide and should
work well as a tumbler polish as well as a good alternative
for cerium oxide. It is also the best jade polish I have
found yet.

Dick Friesen
Note to Keith Harmon who wrote the query: Maybe if you told
a little of where and how you acquired TXP, and what info
is on the label, someone might have a better idea of what
TXP is. hale

Subject: SHOW: Nashville AFMS Show

Hi Hale,

We will be in Nashville,too--So stop by and say hello.

Ted and Joyce
Note: Ted and Joyce sell tools. I'm always glad when I see
them at shows. Known them a long time. And (he will kill me
for this),just keep talking, you might get a better price!!
Stop by and see them, too -- they carry a wide array of
tools for jewelry and lapidary. hale

Subject: SHOW: Nashville AFMS Show

Hale, I have a dealer's booth in Nashville at the show next
week. We make wirewrap jewelry and our name is: R & D
Traders-Roy & Dottie Meade. I hope you stop and see us.

Have a good time
Thanks, Roy! I certainly will and I hope others on the
list will come by and introduce themselves -- to all our
list dealers! hale


Dear Hale, Listmates, & all,

We have been subscribing for about a month, but have just
been sitting back and reading.

We are pretty new to lapidary, but have been collecting for
a few years. We live in southwestern Washington state, and
visit the central Oregon area often, usually at least once
a month. We are even seriously considering a move there if
David can find work that we can live with. We are attracted
to both the climate and the rocks. We recently bought a
travel trailer so that we can extend our visits there even
longer and explore more of the area. We will be visiting
the Pow Wow this weekend, but we probably won't be spending
our whole weekend there, as we love to get out and explore
and collect, so I don't know that we will comprehensively
reporting on it. We try to visit a new locality every time
we head over that way.

David is a longtime boiler technician, and his job offers
us freedom, both with time and money, to pursue our lapidary
and collecting interests. I "work" at home, caring for our
three children, 15, 11, and the baby. Our baby, 17 months,
has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and it is becoming
quite challenging to collect or find much time to cut or
polish much of anything, but we are always trying to
brainstorm new ways to take him out collecting with us. The
folks at the Richardson Ranch call babies and little ones
"pebble puppies", and that's what he is!

We recently bought a sixteen inch slab saw, a six inch trim
saw, and a four wheel diamond polisher, and we're having a
ball with all of it. I love to just cut things and whirl
them in a tumbler, but David really gets into the polishing.
Likes shiny things, I guess.

We love the digest and save each one. Keep it coming Hale!

Ann & David Griffin

Subject: BIO : Lorna Quinton

While waiting for the schoolbus outside the military base
where I lived as a child, I would pick up and play with small
quartz crystal clusters. Taken home later after school, they
would become crystal castles.

This fascination stayed with me until in 1971, after seeing
a cabbing demonstration in a department store, I bought an
old Highland Park cabbing machine, (still the basis of my
equipment) and started cutting cabs.

In the 28 years since, I have cut and/or carved everything
I could lay my hands on, the optical phenomena gemstones
being my favourites.

My current project is cutting beads from bronze-colored
chatoyant Iolite, and carving beads of Blue Chalcedony.

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