Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rock Tumbling

This week has been torture...literally. I've been in the dentist's chair for hours, it seems. The torture includes pulling and grinding and drilling and poking and prodding. I was going to take a picture of the inside of my mouth but figured that was gross and everyone knows what it's like.
So I'm living with the dull pain, swelling and discomfort in my poor stressed out mouth. that I've got a bunch of sympathy, let's go on to what else is new!

I started up my rock tumbler. The rock show in France inspired me. I already had a good selection of Untersberg marble and "filler" rocks for this next run.

I've never attempted to polish such big rocks. But they fit in the machine and I know that I will lose a great deal of their size in the tumbling process.

The first step, the most abrasive, is great. You get to really see progress fast. This step smooths the jagged and sharp edges. Often time, rocks break during this process and you end up with even more rocks in the container than when you started. Above you can see how it looks before the machine is actually turned on. The white "hail" like stuff is plastic pellets. They prevent the rocks from banging together too hard (and are a must when working with soft rocks) and also helps with the noise factor. The black powder stuff is exactly powder that helps in the grinding and tumbling. This type looks like gun powder whereas the last of the three powders is a fine as powdered sugar.

The lid on my machine is quite worn and scratched but this gives you an idea of what it looks like as the machine is running. I have to admit, I stare at it for hours. I find the motion fascinating and mesmerizing.

Now you can see the difference in how the rocks look and this is after only 24 hours! My machine doesn't actually "tumble" the rocks. It moves up and down so the motion of the rocks is very different, kind of spiral. This type of machine gets the job done faster than a regular tumbler. I like both kinds actually but this machine is quiet enough to have running in the guest bedroom. It's really heavy duty.

See how the rocks are already getting smoother and losing all their jaggedness? After each 24 hours or so, I rinse everything off and start again. I'll go to the next powder when I no longer see a difference in the rocks. I don't normally polish my rocks so that they look like marbles or anything. I like a more natural shape and I like "flaws". Here is a post where I pictured some of the Untersberg marble that I already polished. Keep an eye on my new photoblog, The Camera Lenz as I am photographing the whole process and will, when completed, have a great slide show of the whole process for you.


em's scrapbag said...

Looks like fun. My dad and DD are rock hounds. Dad has a rock tumbler and other equipment to polish rocks. DD polished a rock that my dad is going to make into a necklace for her when we were down last.

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.