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Finding Abalone Pieces


#1

I may be getting in this discussion late but a good source is a
luthier (stringed instrument maker) supply. One company is Stewart
McDonald. They have a free catalog and a whole page on inlay
materials. Hope this helps.

Robert Kardow
Robert James Jeweler


#2

My memory is bugging me. Was there not a recent discussion on the
toxicity of working with abalone shell? Something like some horrible
disease if one breaths the shell dust. Working with a few shells
should not be a problem but do use a face mask.

An earlier response to this thread mentions that there is a ban on
the export of abalone shells. And that is what puzzles me because
abalone meat is readily available although at a skyhigh price of $50+
for a small 10 fl oz. can in Chinatown. The shell comes as a free
by- product of abalone harvesting so banning abalone shell exports
cannot be a conservation measure. Therefore is that a ban a
restriction on a harzardous product?

Kelvin Mok


#3
    toxicity of working with abalone shell?  Something like some
horrible disease if one breaths the shell dust.  Working with a few
shells should not be a problem but do use a face mask. 

Yes they are toxic. work with GREAT ventilation and a GOOD mask.
Working under water is another way to eliminate the toxic problem.

    An earlier response to this thread mentions that there is a ban
on the export of abalone shells.  And that is what puzzles me
because abalone meat is readily available although at a skyhigh
price of $50+ for a small 10 fl oz. can in Chinatown.  The shell
comes as a free by- product of abalone harvesting so banning abalone
shell exports cannot be a conservation measure.  Therefore is that a
ban a restriction on  a harzardous product? 

I think that Calif. Fish And Game thinks that by eliminating
potential financial gain through selling the shells, that illegal
harvesting will be slowed down. Problem is, the shell is of minor
financial gain compared to the meat. There are constant busts of
illegal selling of the meat in the SF bay area. These busted folks
sell thousands of abs a month. The meat available in Chinatown is
from china. This meat is often from black abs and small ones at
that. There are no regulations that I know of (no expert here) about
selling imported shell but I have never been able to tell a Chinese
shell from a USA shell???!!! I think this is another incidence of
our all knowing government officials THINKING they know what we all
need and how to “FIX” a perceived problem. There used to be literal
mountains of abalone shells in the Santa Barbara area right by Hwy
101 (this is definitely dating me!).

John Dach

MidLife Crisis Enterprises
Cynthia Thomas Designs
Cynthia’s sculptures are at: http://www.mlce.net


#4

Hi, You are thinking of Paua-paua from New Zealand, the dust from
the shell should not be inhaled. Just keep is wet, even if you are
cutting it with a hacksaw. This is from an old ab diver. Silverbear


#5

Actually, I’ve heard this about all shells. When I was a student at
GIA, I recall hearing a story about horrible abcesses of the lungs
from grinding shells without proper equipment.

Keeping it wet is a good precaution, but ventilation and masks would
be better.

Kat


#6

Paua is a New Zealand abalone. The dust from the shells is equally
poisonous for both, and the same precautions should be observed for
both. Margaret


#7

Hello all,

From experience, Iknow that importing abalone into Germany is an
illegal thing to do.You can buy them finished and this will be not a
problem.Unfinnished pieces however are illegal to have or to import.I
had a hard time convincing customs here in Germany that the one shell
I had was a present from somebody in New Sealand.

I do not know if there is a law or an agreement about this,but I do
not import abalone from another country.

Regards Pedro
Palonso@t-online.de


#8

Hello, all! Speaking as a former importer/exporter of exotic animals
(reptiles), I think it’s important to mention that some species of
abalone are considered endangered species. To transport them from one
country to another requires CITES permits (Congress on International
Trade of Endagered Species). Check with your country’s regulations
(Fish & Wildlife in US - Agriculture Canada, etc.) to make sure that
you won’t be getting into trouble by sharing your shells with others
around the world. Pleading stupidity after the fact seldom works!

Barrie Edwards
Windermere Designs


#9

Greetings:

Is there an archive/file somewhere that specifically summarizes and
reviews the danger involved with working shells - i.e. cutting,
grinding, carving, etc.? Please advise.

Regards,

Joe Bokor
@Joe_Bokor2


#10
    Yes they are toxic. work with GREAT ventilation and a GOOD mask.
Working under water is another way to eliminate the toxic problem. 

I am very concerned about this toxicity issue. I work in a group
studio with a jeweler who uses a lot of shells, mabe pearls, and other
sea-objects. I raised the issue with her–she sometimes grinds these
things to shape on a belt sander with no special ventilation. She wears
a dust mask. If she chooses to take her chances, she is an adult,
there’s little I can do about it. Question is, is she endangering the
rest of us? If so, is it only while/just after she grinds, or is the
residual dust that presumably settles everywhere a problem? I teach
teens and others in this studio, and spend a lot of time there on my
own work. I would really appreciate some kind of difinitive answer on
this. I asked on one of the “ask a scientist” sites, but have gotten
no response as yet. Anyone who can help, and (forgive me, please) has
the expertise to speak with authority, or can guide me to such a
person, I would be truly grateful. There are so many hazards in the
arts, one has to avoid the ones one can. Thank you! --Noel


#11

Noel - All I can say is, you talk to just about any rock polisher and
they will tell you that it must be done wet, you must not breathe the
dust, you must protect your arms as the harmful stuff can enter
through your skin, and you must wash your hands thoroughly before you
eat, including under your fingernails. I have gotten this from
several different people in either Tucson or Quartzsite, from people
who polish rocks/shells for a living and from people who sell rock
polishing equipment. Check out www.lapidarydigest.com (an email
list full of rock hounds) and post your query. I am not aware of any
book or pamphlet or anything that lists the hazaards of rock polishing
(including shells). Let me know if you find one.


#12

Hi Noel

I used to market abalone mabe pearls and would sometimes trim them to
size. I was cautioned by my pearl grower/cutter to not only work them
wet, but wear a respirator and not have my skin exposed to the dust
during this process. He had developed an irregular heart beat from
exposure to the dust and was educated by an expert on how to protect
himself. The noxious substance can apparently be inhaled as well as
absorbed through the skin. The dust contains a glucamite, a chemical
which the body mistakes for sugar and thus transports readily within
ones tissues. Occasional exposure may not do severe harm, but I would
definitely clean any residual dust up with a wet rag so your students
are not exposed to the substance. As for the woman who wears a dust
mask only while cutting shell, that is playing with her health. As to
my source, who developed the irregular heart beat, after several
months of avoiding abalone shell dust his problems fortunately
cleared up. By the way, abalone pearls, both natural and farm raised
mabe pearls, can be amazing with a colorplay that’s almost
opalescent.

Tom Tietze
Artisan Workshop
JA certified senior bench jeweler


#13

On the part of working it ,I believe it is arsinic posioning which
will occur, (nerve damage). I try to avoid working shells of any type
,I even drill pearls under water and clean up any dust with a wet
spong.