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Trying gem carving


#1

I currently interested in trying some gem carving. Because this
would be new technique to me I have a few basic questions. First, I
started by reading Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry by Henry
Hunt. I have been considering ordering American Lapidary, Designing
the Carved Gemstone, also by Henry Hunt but from the book
description it is unclear whether it just rehashes much of the same
material. Does anyone have copy of each and can offer a comparison?
Second, I have begun to look at the types of burs available.

It appears that the sintered are the best but considerably more
expensive than the plated burs. Does anyone have any thoughts on
this? Also, what would be the best bur shapes and grits to use prior
to moving to diamond paste? I would like to start by carving wavy
shapes in material such as the quartzes.

Thanks,
Scott


#2
Does anyone have copy of each and can offer a comparison? Second, I
have begun to look at the types of burs available 

Hi, Scott. Stone carving isn’t really much different from wax
carving or any other carving as long as you have the tools. Getting
a good polish is the hard part. Partly meaning that more books
aren’t going to help a lot - but books are good. I have some of my
carving here:

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com/ourwork/jdport/coloredstone

BTW. Finally got a good pic of the rabbit pendant up…

Crystalite used to make something called the “Full Circle Wheel”,
which was a narrow wheel in various diameters with a radius on the
edge - used that a lot, both 4" and 1" sizes. Rock takes so long to
cut that you need tools sized to your work to get anything done, so
which burs to buy and use depends on if you want a bigger scale or a
lot of detail. A Henry Moore sculpture needs bigger, more expansive
tools, and a Netsuke carving will take bigger tools for roughing, and
then small tips for detailing. Trying to carve a whole 1" size
carving in agate with 1/8" tool will take a year. Basically balls and
cones or wheels will remove material faster, and then tools with an
edge like cones and cylinders will give you hard edges. Trying to cut
everything with a tapered cone will lose that crisp edge on the bur
pretty fast - take it down first, and then consider the sharp edge as
a detail bur. Bottom line is which burs is up to you and your work.
Sintered is way better, but for starting out you might go plated -
buy sintered after you KNOW it’s something you’re going to use it
enough to pay. A plated set is good to have for when you need some
bur occassionally but not very often.

Sanding and polishing - The Chinese traditionally polished jade
carvings with bamboo points and grit, and you can’t beat it. Make
wheels out of thin wood, like very thin plywood or split a board or
use masonite, and spin it on the flexshaft to true it. One for each
grit or compound. Also toothpicks, skewers and dowels, as needed.
Plus you can buy stuff, but making it is easy and you get what YOU
want. Even a toothpick will last surprisingly long with diamond
grit. Small felt wheels do pretty good for polish, like Linde A,
which I used a lot with rock crystal…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#3

Hi Scott,

I have both books and if you liked the first one, you’ll love the
second. It goes into great detail on different styles, how to
achieve different effects (like wavy), the tool shapes to use (and
how to make them) and tons of photos of carvings to show as examples.
It’s an excellent reference and think you would really benefit from
having it as well.

Since you’re just starting out the plated burs should work fine for
you. If you use them with a coolant (water) and aren’t overly
aggressive with them, they’ll last plenty long enough for you to do
several carvings. I have the 30 bur sets each of 150, 240 & 600
diamond grit, which I got from Ebersole’s (Wichita) but most any of
the lapidary supply houses will carry them along with the pastes too.
Check out Daniel Lopacki [lopacki.com] too. He has LOTS of burs in
all sorts of shapes you can’t get in any of the standard sets and
prices are very reasonable too. Save those spendy sintered burs until
you get some practice under your belt first.

Hope that helps to give you somewhere to start. The most important
thing you’ll find you need for carving is Patience :slight_smile:

CaroL


#4
First, I started by reading Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry
by Henry Hunt. I have been considering ordering American Lapidary,
Designing the Carved Gemstone, also by Henry Hunt but from the book
description it is unclear whether it just rehashes much of the
same material. 

The second Hunt book is very different from the first - get both! Get
non-sintered burs to start with - much cheaper. Later when you have
better feel for which burs are best, get sintered.

Jon


#5

Scott

I have the same interest, and through trial and error found a method
that gave good results, however, one member of the group really
floored me with this simple approach when he responded once to a
question similar to yours.

Hans Meevis, take a bow.

The attached web site is Hans’ and he has a nice tutorial on his
approach and tools.
http://www.meevis.com/jewelry-making-class-gem-carving.htm

Hope it works as well for you as it did for me.

Terry


#6

Hi Scott,

I bought both books from Henry Hunt at Tucson 2005 (got 'em
autographed too :^) The “American Lapidary, Designing the Carved
Gemstone” goes into even more detail about the design and carving. It
uses photo’s of top carvers such as Glenn Lehrer, Michael Dyber,
Arthur Anderson and many more. It’s definitely a companion book to
the Lapidary Carving for the Creative Jeweler and I feel worth
getting.

Have fun, Marta


#7

In my opinion, you would be much better in the long run going with
the sintered carving tools. The ones with the diamond coating are not
going to work once the outer coating is ground away. The sintered
ones have diamond incorporated throughout the whole grinding body.

Rose ALene


#8
The attached web site is Hans' and he has a nice tutorial on his
approach and tools.
http://www.meevis.com/jewelry-making-class-gem-carving.htm 

That is a nice tutorial for a beginning. Obviously gem carving
encompasses a whole big field. I would add one thing to Han’s
tutorial, though. I used a Cool-Whip or similar container for water.
It has flexible sides and it’s easier and more comfortable to get
your hands into…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#9

Try the following:

Lopaki - burs, diamond powder, etc.
http://lopacki.com/foredom/accessories

Mountain Mist Products
diamond polishing compounds, etc. - good stuff both sintered and
plated burs
http://www.mtmist.org

Kingsley North - all kinds of grinding, polishing stuff
http://www.kingsleynorth.com

Lasco Diamond Products:
Very good and reasonably priced plated diamond burs of every
imaginable size/shape
http://www.lascodiamond.com/products/homepage.html

Jeff Graham, good natural rough (but expensive) some good tools
inexpensive synthetic rough for carving

Prettyrock.com
good large rough for carvins just bought 3 pieces of ametrine, all
around 200 cts. at reasonable price the have a 1,258 ct. amethyst 84
x 58 x 24 for example $314.00
http://www.prettyrock.com/php/facet-rough-weight-more100.php

I have bought from all the above at one time or another, I recommend
all of them - all honest & helpful folks.

Have fun!
Jon