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Polishing wampum (Quahog Shell)


Does anyone know what to use to polish a clam shell - specifically
the purple/white interior shell of the Chowder Quahog that is found
off the coast of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, etc.



Bob - If your problem is just with final polish it can be done
either wet or dry. For dry, I use ZAM of a hard leather flat disk;
for wet, I use tin oxide on felt. When you are polishing dry it is
important to keep the shell cabs cool. As far as cutting and
shaping, quahog responds well to regular lapidary treatment for
grinding and sanding (starting at 220 grit after trim sawing). You
can also work the shell dry using jeweler’s tools (saw frame/blade
to cut, files to shape, etc.). Be certain to wear at least a simple
mask, as you must when working any shell.

Jim Small
Small Wonders


Bob, In “Gem and Lapidary Materials”, June Culp Zeitner recommends
tin oxide on leather or hard felt to polish shell; she says it can
also be tumbled.