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A lapidary (the word means "concerned with stones") is an artisan who practices the craft of working, forming and finishing stone, mineral, gemstones, and other suitably durable materials (amber, shell, jet, pearl, copal, coral, horn and bone, glass and other synthetics) into functional and/or decorative, even wearable, items (e.g. cameos, cabochons, and more complex faceted designs). - Wikipedia.

From Billings: "I love creating using stones and I cut and work 99% of everything I use in my jewelry. I work with many types of stones and Recently, the demand for my skull cameos cut from shell and turquoise have occupied much of my time but my lapidary work is extensive and varied. For my LIVE presentation, I will include demonstration with Lapis and if time allows a carved skull."

The First Item in cutting a stone is having a need for a stone. In this case I will need a blue lapis cab for a grape ring Gift of Bacchus Design and a Skull cameo for the Captain Kidd ring Design

I then look over my Lapis stones for the color and matrix pattern I want for the Bacchus ring. This is best bone by wetting the stones.

Wet stones:

I then go to my 6" Combo Lortone Trim Saw & Arbor

This is a new one pic 1, mine is very used pic 2.

As you can see I have added a few modifications such as removing the plastic cover and adding a small Water feed tube to Saw blade cover *note: "The cover is not to you keep from getting cut as the blades will only cut dense items and cutting your hand would take considerable Effort on your part." The cover is to keep as much of the water returning to the saw reservoir as possible. Wile greatly improving vision of my work. I have also added sponge under the sanding wheels as this keep down splashing while attaining a constant and even wet surface. The water in the sawing and sanding operations it to prevents dust and cool the stones. Note :"Some dust are very posionus all are harmfull and build up in the lungs" .

Once I have a piece of lapis I then use my saw to trim it to a close shape and size. Note Never cut stones to the size you need ,as the polishing process will usually make your stone %30 smaller overall and at least 5% less width and height. Get it close, polish it, and then sand it down to the final size needed . For me I make the stone first then make the ring to fit the stone.

Trim saw in use video:

Trim saw Picture:

After trimming it down to size I then proceed to the hard stone wheel (about 220 grit) and cut down the edges further shaping it closer to my need.

Link stone wheel:

Next step will require me to affix a handle to make working the stone faster.

Finished rough shape:

I begin by drying the stone and place it on my hot plate to heat up and attach it to a wooden stick using Kings Wax. The kings Wax is also heated in a tray on the hot plate too. Caution both stone and wax are hot. Remove stone from plate and place on a wooden block (this prevents thermal shock that could crack your stone). Now dip the wooden dowel stick in the hot wax then place it onto the back of the stone. Let it cool and then you can finish sanding the stone.

Sticks and stones:

Now we go back to the Machine and begin cutting the stone edges away using a 600 grit sanding wheel. Constant motion is needed to prevent cutting a flat spot on your stone. This Process will get your stone 90% shaped.

Closer Shaped:

Now I finish all my stoned by hand using 800, 1000 and 2000 grit wet sand sandpaper and cerium oxide on sheep skin.

First step is to get a roll of shop towels and flattened them and form a valley.

This is what you use to support your sandpaper and keep you from forming flat spots on your finished stones. You must use automotive wet sanding paper. I always cover the back with duck tape this keeps the paper from tearing.

While sanding Keep it wet, this prevents buildup on the paper and gives a smooth cut, first on 800 grit then straight to 2000 for sort stones like lapis. For stones of hardness or 7.5 of higher, I will go to 1000 next before the 2000.

Cerium oxide:

Now we go to the final polish on the Sheep skin using cerium oxide. Place a little cerium oxide on the skin and add water. This is enough for several stones as it is worked into the surface and can be used over and over. Rub the stone back and forth about 80 strokes for soft stones about 300 for hard stone.

For the Skull I will look in my box of Shells I have pink and White.

Pink, they are as large as my hand but thin only the outer 1 inch is of use.

White Shells are smaller about ½ the size of my hand, but the White are 4 times as thick.

Cutting is much the same for shells as for lapis.

After Cutting the Shell, I look for a good clean matrix without flaking that can cause a cameo to chip during the cutting and forming phase.

After cutting down the shell to a workable size, I then work the shell into a rough Skull shape on the 600 grit wheel. Using lots of water some shell are posing these are not so much, but never take chances with bone or shell organic compounds are not lung friendly.

Shaping the rough form of skull Video:

Now using a dremel tool and a diamond blade I cut in the teeth.

Changing over to a ball diamond bit, I form the eyes and shape the face. Shaping is usually done in a shallow dish with about 3 mm of water to keep down dust. I use a fan when it is not practical to blow dust away from me.

Cutting the eyes Video:

For the final polish I go to my Jewelers Buffing Wheel and use Tripoli to smooth out the scratches. And touch up with a small wheel on my dremel tool.

All done:

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