Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site:
Associate Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder, Steve Henegar,
Margaret Malm, Sam Todaro, and Ed Elam

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 281 - Sun 1/28/2001
2. NEW: How to Work Amber
3. NEW: How to Work Copal
4. NEW: Drilling Holes in Stones
5. NEW: Need Info on Automatic Lapidary Machines
6. NEW: Lathe-Turning of Lapidary Items
7. Re: Chatoyant or Cats-eye Beryl
8. RE: Reasons To Become A Koroit Kutting Kowboy
9. RE: Carving Carnelian
10. RE: Field Trip to Australian Opal Country
11. FS: Sphere Machines
12. BIO: Jerry Burnett
13. BIO: Sandy Sotor


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 281 - Sun 1/28/2001

A couple of housekeeping items:

PLEASE restrict each letter to ONE query. If you send in
multiple questions in a single letter, then there is no way
for responses to be tied to the right question. So please
do it!! One message, one question. The same applies to
responses; send only one response per message!

And please do NOT answer by hitting 'REPLY'. That sends
back the whole Digest and it takes too much time to delete.

Someone asked: "Where can I find your Archives?" All past
issues of the Digest are on the website:

Go there and scroll down to the entry to the Archives. Read
the instructions for using the finding aids, and then dig in.

The local server is no longer available for accessing the

In the last issue, Ruth Schmidt asked for references to the
techniques of carving carnelian. New members might like to
know that there is an extensive list of lapidary books on
the website (address given above). If you know of any
lapidary books not on that list, please send me the titles,
authors, etc, and I will add them to the list. Anyone like
the job of librarian, that is, keeping the list up to date?
If so, lemme hear from you!!

James Dumar, who wrote the "Notes from Lightning Ridge"
series in earlier Journals, writes to say that some notes
on the new rushes at Lightning Ridge may be found at Thanks, James.

And to all our Chinese friends on the list, I say: "Gung
hay fat choy!!!" It's Chinese New Years, a big day to the

I have had a number of letters since restarting asking about
Anne. Anne, my wife, has Alzheimer's Disease and her memory
and the cognitive functions in her brain are all gone now.
She is in a nursing home, unable to do anything for herself.
No recognition of family or anyone. What a cruel disease!!

So I beg you, let your loved ones know how you feel while
you can. Every day.


Subject: NEW: How to Work Amber

Hi Hale!!!!

Thank you for your time. My name is Tony Campbell, and I
live in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

I am looking for information on how to polish, prepare,
clean up, in general, how to work with raw amber. If the
members can help guide me in the right direction it would
truly be appreciated.

Thank you again for your time.

Kindest Regards

Tony Campbell
"ToJo Island Crafters"

Subject: NEW: How to Work Copal

Hi !

I have recently purchased some "Copal Amber" and I need
information on it. Do you work Copal any differently than
you do Amber?

I was told to not polish Copal, but to dip it in Muriatic
acid, then rinse well. Has anyone heard of this?

Thank you for your time.

Tony Campbell
"too Island Crafters"

Subject: NEW: Drilling Holes in Stones

Can anyone tell me if there is a book available explaining
how to drill holes in polished stones. Also what type of
drill bits do you use, what type of drill press is used and
where do you get these items. I recently got involved in
lapidary work and at this point I feel like I don't have a
clue as to how to handle this problem.

Thanks for your help.

Bob Cohen
Asheville NC
Bob: The Archives have lots of information on drilling,
and if you check there, you will find all you need to know.
After reading what is there, if you have further questions,
please write. But I'm sure you will find everything you
need to know in the Archives. hale

Subject: NEW: Need Info on Automatic Lapidary Machines

Where can I buy a cameo copying machine which can make
cameos like a key copying machine in hardware store?

Also, is there a lapidary slab saw on the market which can
work automatically in two directions - feeding
stone to the blade and then automatically shifting stone in
perpendicular direction for the next slab to cut? In other
words, I wonder if there is a professional saw which can
take a big chunk of stone and cut it automatically like a
loaf of bread without any operator involvement.

I am looking for the most efficient way to cut slabs. Thank
you for whatever help you can give me.


Subject: NEW: Lathe-Turning of Lapidary Items

The following was posted in Issue 235 in Oct 1999, and did
not get responses; I'm hoping that now some of you may be
able to respond or know someone who might respond. The
original query was about alabaster. I'm not hung up on
alabaster (though it is beautiful); I do want to present
information on lathe turning of lapidary items, and would
appreciate any help anyone can give the Digest.


For the past two years, I have been trying to find someone
to write about 'how-to' turn stones on a lathe, and have not
been successful. We do have some turners on the list, but
they did not have time to write up details of their craft.
I completely understand that, for, as you know, I have had
the same problem myself in the recent past.

But today I found a web site which documents how one person
turns alabaster bowls, from beginning to end, and it's well
described with pictures of the whole process. I refer you
to URL: -- and click on
Alabaster. Hope you enjoy this site as much as I did!

For other related links, we have:

Source of Alabaster:
Another Source:
Lathe Turned Stone Housewares from ancient Egypt:

If you have other references, or if you turn stoneware your-
self, please send in information about the process!


Subject: Re: Chatoyant or Cats-eye Beryl

Mark wrote: (( I'm wondering how many people have seen
chatoyant or cats-eye beryl. I have some I've been cutting.
I've read in some places that's it's rare, but I'm wondering
just how rare? Are people familiar with it? What colors
have you seen? Any other info would be appreciated. I can
tell you that as far as cutting is concerned, orientation is

I've cut some, and I like it a lot. I've worked with the
pale blue (aquamarine) and pale pink (morganite) varieties.
The way I oriented it was to get a piece wet, then turn it
around in a light beam until the chatoyance was strongest.
I didn't end up with cat's eyes, though - perhaps there
wasn't enough "silk" in the piece for that. My stones came
out with a subtle interior illumination that varies with
the angle of light, somewhat like a moonstone or star
sapphire that isn't cut for the asterism. It works well for
carving, since the chatoyance works with the curves in the
piece to add interest, and orientation isn't as much of a
problem in fully-round sculptural pieces.))

Mark also wrote: ((Not rare in Brazil, it is often sold as
industrial Beryl in lots of 10-20 tons.))

In that case, Mark, maybe you could arrange to high-grade
some of the pretty-colored pieces? Big chunks of unflawed
material for low prices would be nice. I like it better
than the transparent aquamarine and morganite, since the
color of this stone is generally faint in small pieces.
Golden beryl (Heliodor) seems to be an exception to this,
with more intense color, but I haven't seen any of this
with chatoyance (or chatoyant emeralds either, for that

Mark: ((The orientation for "eyes" can be difficult, easier
to cut "moons". If you want an idea of what type of silk
pattern is in a particular direction, let a drop of baby oil
slide off your finger to the stone. It must sit on the stone
in a bubble, not a smear. Then hold a strong penlight about
2' above the stone, and wave it back and forth. You will see
a ray of light or a moving moon. ))

By "moon", I assume you mean a spot of light that tracks the
beam? I notice this in the rough, but as the polish advances
the effect seems to disperse, for some reason. If one cuts
for the best moon on a spherical piece of rough, would that
be the "eye"?

Andrew Werby - United Artworks
Sculpture, Jewelry, and Other Art Stuff

Subject: RE: Reasons To Become A Koroit Kutting Kowboy


I enjoyed your article on Koroit opal. I recently purchased
60+ pounds of rough and am having fun cutting the material.
It is a very dirty process. I keep and extra bowl of water
to wash off the stone frequently between cuts. The water in
the Genie becomes very dirty and have to change it
frequently. It is reminds me of playing in the mud as a kid;
except I am not getting in trouble for it :-)

I enjoy the patterns the opal produces. Very interesting
material. You are right about the matrix hiding some
interesting stuff. I have pieces that I thought were void of
any fire. I saw a little dark seam that seemed out of place;
ground a little more, and it unveiled a hidden treasure.

I have just recently started cutting opal. So, I am learning
as I am going. I also started cutting some Lightning Ridge
opal; which cuts completely different.

Happy cutting,


James Carpenter

Subject: RE: Carving Carnelian

Hi Ruth,

I can recommend two books on gem carving, they are:

..The Fundamentals of Gemstone Carving, by Gordon S.
Kennedy & Others, Published by Lapidary Journal, Inc.
P.O.Box 80937. San Diego, Calif. 92138.

..Gem Cutting a Lapidary's Manual, second edition by John
Sinkankas. Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 450
West 33rd St. New York, N.Y. 10001.

I don't know if these books are still in print, but you may
be able to borrow a copy from your local library or gem and
mineral clubs archives.
Hope this helps,
Note: John also sent a copy of this to Ruth Schmidt, who
submitted the original query. Thanks for sending it to
her, John hale

Subject: RE: Field Trip to Australian Opal Country

Thank you, Barbara, wonderful piece. And, I would like to
report on my trip to see Margaret's wonderful collection
from the Australian trip. I was amazed at the variety, and
beauty of the stones she brought back. I couldn't believe
the different types and colors from the stones she brought
back! Outstanding material.

She also showed us the silver work she has done, and she is
remarkably talented and skillful. She makes a mean cookie,
too! My husband and I enjoyed her extensive mineral
collection and all in all, had a marvelous time.

I am cutting her a small cab out of a vial she gave me and
hope to take it over to her next trip down. I had a real
blast, if you ever get out her way, see if she will let you

Sue, I know. I have been wearing a belt buckle she made and
gave me as a present, for several years now. Western motif,
with roadrunner, saguaro, mountains and moon. I get comments
on it every time I wear it. Yes, she IS a talented lady!

Subject: FS: Sphere Machines

Hale. I would appreciate it if you could run our ad for
sphere machines. We manufacture 3 sizes of sphere machines:
A marble maker/refinisher sells for $269.00 . One that makes
spheres up to 3 inch spheres at $369.00 and one that makes
up to a 5 inch sphere at $469.00. Plus shipping.

Please contact me for further information.

Joe Adams

Subject: BIO: Jerry Burnett

Subject: Bio

Hi All; I’m new to the Lapidary Digest so I’ll give you a
few short words of introduction. I’ve been a Lapidary
enthusiast for over 50 years. I started out with a couple
of Highland Park diamond saws and Highland Park grinding
and polishing combo. Also used an Alta belt sander. All
the units are getting pretty old now, but seem to be in fair
working order (about like me).

Fortunately as a lapidary, I was living in the right part of
the USA, in the southern California desert to become a
rockhound and mineral collector, and later a gold nugget
prospector. It’s been a terrific hobby. I was lucky
enough to be a good friend and student of Glenn and Martha
Vargas (who were and are masters of Lapidary and Faceting)
and it was from them that I also got into faceting. My wife
and I and four young sons spent many vacations traveling
through the west to the famous collecting sites. Looking
back on it now, I remember how many of the forestry
campgrounds in which we spent the night, were practically
deserted. Occasionally, completely empty except for
ourselves. What a change from today.

Having been in business as an electronic technician,
computers have also become a hobby and I recently took a
online course in writing HTML, a lot of fun also. I have
created a few web pages concerning my lapidary and if you
would like to take a look go to: .

Any comments or criticism would be welcome.

It’s nice to see so many experts on the Lapidary Digest.
Long may it live.

Jerry Burnett

Subject: BIO: Sandy Sotor

I started with metalsmithing classes 15 yrs ago, wanted to
cut my own cabs for variety of stones. Quickly bored out of
my gourd with plain oval cabs. 5 yrs later, tried cabbing
again, intent on various shapes and free forms. The teacher
sold me on High Tech's water cooled pieces: All-You-Need,
and 5" trim saw. And so began my obsessing with rocks. Have
learned the names of stones that appealed to me as I spotted
them. Only had one field trip: Houghton Mich. a couple years
ago. Great fun, but not much for cabbing. Haven't
collected on my own; largely limestone around here, and
partly cause I wouldn't recognize most things in the
rough/natural location.

Am really little more than an obsessive hobbyist (sell
jewelry and cabs at 2 shows/year here at the college) who
ended up teaching the cabbing class here at the Junior
College for the past 5 years. But like many clubs, the
class has had shortage of people lately so the class isn't
running this semester. I took that as my sign that I was
free to retire (in April) and move to Ft Lauderdale, FL.

Thought I'd liquidate rocks and equipment--a hefty lot to
move. But people are coaching me to keep "some". I feel if
I keep one rock, I need to keep equipment to work it.
Present equipment includes All-You-Need, a Genie, a Beacon
Star 14(?) in vibrating flat lap, a Lot-o-Tumbler and 3 trim

Favorite stones to cut: Imperial jasper and Morrisonite.
Quit cutting agates: don't have the patience to finish them.
After many semesters of melt-downs, I quit trying to
soldering and am setting my stones in wire wrapping or wire

Member of West Suburban Lapidary Club, had display cases
in/and demonstrated cabbing at the semi annual club shows.
Have cut LOTS of hearts--both symmetrical and free form.
Like to let stone dictate the size & shape to cut.

Biggest thrill: slabbing--finding fantastic scenes hidden
inside. Second is selecting the particular "picture" in a
slab. Can't explain why I don't get more satisfaction from
finishing a stone and/or selling it.

Sandy Sotor
815 280-2377
FAX 815 744-5507
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