Friday, March 22, 2013

"Rock" on. Wah-waaaaah.

     I couldn't NOT open this post with the world's worst pun. It had to happen. Destiny commanded it. Anyway, I've been experimenting with a new hobby. Whilst strolling through the park the other day (picture me wearing my best top hat and monocle for this, not because it's accurate, but because it's an image I'd like people to associate with me), I picked up a couple rocks that caught my eye when they sparkled a bit in the sun. I thought they had potential, and you can never be sure that the economy won't totally collapse, leaving us with useless bits of paper instead of money and hey, maybe if I have some shiny rocks I could trade them for food. It's good to be prepared! Or I could just turn them into pretty baubles to wear around. Come what may, ya dig? So I took them home. One little shard of quartz seemed to have particularly great bauble-potential. But after I washed it up, it still needed work. Here's how it started out: 

     You can tell it's pretty small based on how massive my Hulk hands look in that picture. Because of this, I think it's destined to become a ring, though I'll tell you right now that I haven't decided exactly how I want to do that (Wire-wrap it? Drill a hole through the side? Super-glue it to my finger and see how long it stays on? Time will tell!), so don't expect the last picture in this post to be a glistening ring on my finger. 

     The process I used to fix up the little guy was pretty simple. I experimented on a less-ideal rock first to see what worked best, and when I was confident the process worked, I applied it to my wee little quartzy-wartzy. Here's the play-by-play:

  1. To shape it, I used a Dremel with a silicone carbide wheel attachment to grind away all the rough edges. This is by far the most satisfying part. Changing the shape of a rock! I felt like Hephaestus crafting Zeus' lightning bolts or Poseidon's trident! Except, you know. Scaled back a bit. (In case you hadn't already picked up on this, it takes NOTHING to get me excited. Rocks? Hell yeah, rocks! They're like my catnip!)

  2. With the same attachment, I then went over each plane of the shard very, very patiently, grinding down all the crags and notches until everything was smooth. This part was still fun, though not quite as satisfying as step one because it takes a lot longer. Add to this that the Dremel I'm using is cordless and a bit old, so I only get a little work done before I have to go recharge it for a few hours, essentially working in very small shifts, and you have MADNESS. It's been a real test of my patience, as well as my willpower, because it's made me BADLY want to go out and buy a corded Dremel so I can just sit down with it and really go to town. But I just splashed out on my boots, so I'm not up for a big spend again for a while. I do have a birthday coming up in...4 months though (which may or may not be why I linked the one I want there...Hi, Mom and Dad!). More patience-testing! I'm gonna be a saint by the end of this!

  3. Once all the nooks and crannies (good in an English muffin, bad in a rock) were gone, I sanded the stone with progressively finer grits of sandpaper until it was nice and smooth.

  4. Then I used polishing compound on a felt wheel attachment to buff it up reeeeal nice (I don't know how to spell that the way I want to say it, which is like a toothless old prospecter. Naaas, maybe? Whatever, it's not important).

  5. Finally, I added a coat of clear lacquer to give it a wet-look shine. Ready for the reveal? Ok, here it is!

     Wooo, look at those curves! Look at that glisten! I could have made it a perfect rectangle if I really wanted to, but I like the more organic shape. Makes it more unique! Well, as unique as it can be...quartz is the most common mineral in the Earth's continental crust. But I still think it's pretty, and I definitely plan to polish up more of these little delights.

     So there you have it! That's how I took a rough little fragment of quartz, a mere boogie plucked straight from the nostril of Mother Earth, and turned it into a smooth little adornment. Here's a side-by-side comparison of before and after to save you the trouble of scrolling back up for your makeover fix. 

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