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Will Dikel

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  1. Hi All, Just finished this knife and thought I'd show and tell it. The blade is Damascus Steel, similar to Japanese Mokume Gane, which is made by forging, folding, forging, folding etc. two kinds of steel- one for sharpness and one for toughness. This blade is made of 256 layers of steel. The handle is Gabon ebony and the hilt is lapis lazuli. Regards, Will Dikel
  2. Will Dikel

    Desert Mahonia?

    Does anyone know of a source for Desert Mahonia? It is a bright yellow wood, tight grained, and may have cool burls. Will Dikel
  3. Will Dikel

    Carving Jadeite- Help!

    Thanks everyone for your advice. I added a post today in the materials section about Guatemalan blue jade- check it out! Will
  4. Will Dikel

    Guatemalan blue jade

    For those jade lovers out there, here is some fascinating info on blue jadeite from Guatemala: http://www.goworldtravel.com/ex/aspx/artic.../xe/article.htm and http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2008/05/blue-jade.html cool quotes: “It’s an old stone that lies deep below the surface,” he says. “You need to strike it to wake it up, and when you do, it sings.” “In 1969, we found a jade boulder weighing several tons submerged in the earth not too far from here,” Hernandez explains. “It took 300 villagers to haul it back to town.” The huge monolith now sits in the local schoolyard.
  5. Will Dikel

    Carving Jadeite- Help!

    P.S. The carving illustrated is an example of Mughal carving- Shah Jahan's jade wine cup in the Victoria and Albert Museum: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/obje..._cup/index.html
  6. Will Dikel

    Carving Jadeite- Help!

    Hi All, I bought some raw jadeite (hardness 7, like quartz), and could use some advice: -Where can I get very rough grit (e.g., 36 grit) large (e.g., one inch spherical and cylindrical) burrs? -Since with burr vs. jade, jade tends to win, should I get embedded vs. electroplated burrs (e.g., with diamond below the outer surface? Where do I get those kind of burrs? -I have a "Diamond Genie" which is a lapidary tool for making cabochons, which is good for grinding and polishing flat surfaces, but not good for carving. It has water constantly running on the wheels. If I work jade with a Fordham and diamond bits, do I need to have water running on the jade as I carve, or can I just keep dipping it into water? -Any tips (besides "Pick an easier stone to carve")? Thanks, Will Dikel
  7. Will Dikel

    limestone dragonfly bowl

    Thanks for the positive feedback. I saw a small bowl in Paris, at the Louvre Museum of Decorative Arts (below), and decided to try to carve a design based on it. I am attaching a photo of another dragonfly piece from the museum- the art nouveau work there blew me away with unbelievably exquisite workmanship. Regards, Will
  8. Hi All, This is a carving in Indiana Limestone of a birdbath, based on an art nouveau dragonfly motif. As limestone doesn't weather well with standing water in it (algae and assorted schmutz), I am hoping to make a mold and cast the carving in concrete to make reproductions. Although Indiana limestone is not known for taking a polish, I took it down to micromesh 12000, giving it a very smooth, tactile feel. This is my first large stone carving. having only done miniature work in the past. It was a lot of fun to do, and I would recommend working in this medium (it carves well with less risk of fracture than many stones). Regards, Will Dikel
  9. Will Dikel

    Mother of pearl supplier sought

    Hi again, I renewed my A.S.I.A. membership (Assn. of Stringed Instrument Artisans) today, and coincidentally, the man who I talked with runs Custom Pearl Inlay (has been doing inlays on Martin Guitars for 40 years). He has scraps of black lip pearl, and of "black pin", which is the darkest variety of pearl. His name is David Nichols, and his phone number is on the website: http://www.custompearlinlay.com/ Regards, Will
  10. Will Dikel

    Mother of pearl supplier sought

    Hi Ford, You could try "The Duke of Pearl" at http://www.dukeofpearl.com/ If he doesn't have what you want, I suspect he would know where you could find it. Regards, Will Dikel
  11. Will Dikel

    chinese ink stone material?

    Thanks everyone for helping me get a grasp on this topic. It looks like the ideal stone is a very old slate from China. I wonder if we have something like that in the U.S.; and if so, how to find it and evaluate it for ink stones. Ford's article reference was fascinating, and the price range of stones ($3.00 to $80,000.00) is pretty amazing. Have any of you carved slate? It looks like it has a long history of use in relief carvings, gravestones, etc. Anyone know where to get high quality slate like the kind in China?
  12. Will Dikel

    chinese ink stone material?

    ]I would like to carve an inkstone as a gift to a friend who is studying Chinese calligraphy. Websites describe several types of stones, e.g., slate, jade, etc., but the descriptions are more poetic than descriptive regarding the best stones to use (" it is hard and durable, feels the dampness of the deep mountain and smooth like a baby's skin. Easy to make the ink with a touch of water, the color of the ink is clean and transparent. Knocking with a finger, the sound is crisp and clear"). Some sites recommend old mine stones ("which means the stone was exploited hundreds or thousands years ago and being buried and oxidized underground. The two major difference of old and new are: new stones have a lot of fine pores that absorbs ink. New stones will not have crisp metal sound when knocked on the finger tip. A good piece of old stone has very crisp metal sound even as one touches their hand through the stone." I also learned about Jianchen, "the richest and most famous She inkstone carving artist. He is called the soul of inkstone carving. For the last twenty years, he exhibited all over Asia including Taiwan, Hongkong, Singapore, Japan, ...... He sold one of his inkstone carving to the Japanese museum for 70, 000 USA dollars." Does anyone know what stone would be best to use, and whether it is available in the U.S.? I thought about using pipestone from Minnesota, but really don't know whether that would work. I understand that the basic qualities are hardness, fineness, slipperiness, absorbability, and several ineffable qualities which apparently cannot be defined. Check out www.acornplanet.com for examples of inkstones. Any ideas?
  13. Will Dikel

    sanding bits for limestone?

    Wow, Chuck, that's totally cool. Concrete pyramids, built in situ. Now I have to lose my mental image of thousands of slaves straining to pull long ropes as huge blocks are moved on rollers. New image- the world's largest on-site cement mixer.
  14. Will Dikel

    sanding bits for limestone?

    Thanks, Phil. Great advice- saves me a lot of headaches later on. I think I'll pursue the casting in concrete plan, and then find a place to put my big dragonfly candy dish. Indiana limestone is great carving material- maybe a gargoyle would be a fun project. Regards, Will
  15. Will Dikel


    Hi B_art Probably more than you are asking for, but here is info from the websites: http://paleodirect.com/fakeamber1.htm and http://paleodirect.com/amberversuscopal1.htm AMBER VERSUS COPAL and FAKE AMBER FOSSIL INCLUSIONS Dispelling the Misinformation and Hype from Unscrupulous Fossil Dealers The issues surrounding purchasing genuine FOSSIL AMBER are two-fold and will be discussed as such: TOPIC 1 We must BE VERY WARY of being sold COPAL which is NOT TRUE FOSSIL AMBER at all but a much younger form of tree resin. There IS a difference and it can be identified. Furthermore, copal contains inclusions of modern living life-forms whereas true fossil amber contains inclusions mostly of EXTINCT prehistoric life. TOPIC 2 We must make sure that the substance being called amber is even genuine tree resin versus plastic OR, that the inclusions are natural and not manmade - a problem in today's amber market. This is true with any rare inclusions (flowers, lizards, scorpions, bird feathers, mammal hair, reptilian skin, and blood filled ticks). INCLUSIONS OF ANY VERTEBRATES SHOULD BE HIGHLY SUSPECT AND AUTHENTICATED! Before we discuss the above points, we will first look at what exactly IS fossil amber. What is AMBER? by Garry Platt (reprinted with permission), edited by Paleo Direct, Inc. Amber is the ancient resin of trees. The resin has gone through a number of changes over millions of years. The result of this metamorphosis is an exceptional gem with extraordinary properties. It is exploited and used by both craftsmen and scientist. It is probably only from the Carboniferous onwards that land based plant species evolved capable of producing resin which subsequently turned into amber. From that time on, various tree species have produced different deposits of amber. Tree Sources The worlds two current major deposits of true fossil amber, Dominican Republic and Baltic, had two separate tree types which produced the original resin. The Baltic source tree has been named Pinites succinifer. In appearance, it would have probably resembled a pine or spruce tree and the forests in which it grew were sub tropical in nature. It may not have looked unfamiliar today. From amongst the numerous inclusions found in Baltic amber other trees species have been identified as being present. Some of the trees which must have grown in the ancient amber forest are Cycadacea (Ferns & Palms), Coniferae (Cypresses, Cedars, Pine, Thujas), Juniperinae (Junipers), Fagaceae (Beeches and Oaks), Salicaceae (Willows), Santalaceae (Sandalwoods), Magnoliaeae (Magnolias), Lauraceae (Laurels) and Aceraceae (Maples). The Dominican Republic resin tree was Hymenaea protera for which had its origins in Africa. Close relatives of this tree (Hymenaea verrucosa) still exist within the sub continent of Africa and on some of the West Indian islands. Many of the major amber deposits have had their tree source identified. Key amongst them are: Country / Species Family Alaska / Agathis Undetermined plant family Baltic / Pinites succinifer Burma / Nummulites biaritzensis Canada - Cedar Lake / Agathis Undetermined plant family Dominican Republic / Hymenaea protera Germany - Bitterfield / Cupressospermum saxonicum (Now disputed) Mexico - Chiapas / Hymenaea Undetermined plant family Middle East / Agathis Undetermined plant family Romania - Colti / Sequoioxylon gypsaceum In nearly all of these cases, the climate under which these trees grew was sub tropical. The climatic conditions where amber is now found may have changed dramatically since the time of the resin bearing trees. The Baltic for instance is no longer sub tropical. It is interesting to note that few potential amber forming forests now exist. The North Island of New Zealand had in the earlier part of this year one of the most extensive resin bearing forests in the world. This location produced the famous kuari gum and the tree responsible for these massive deposits was Agathis australis. Few of these trees now remain of the once huge forests. AMBER VERSUS COPAL Partially reprinted with permission by Susan Aber Ward and Garry Platt, edited by Paleo Direct, Inc. Copal is not the fossilized, hardened resin that is known as amber, but rather an immature recent resin. Increasingly, copal is being offered for sale via the online auction services, fossil dealers' websites, gem shows, and shops, misrepresented as "amber." The commercial value of amber is related to its scarcity, age, inclusions of extinct species, and durability. True fossil amber is MORE VALUABLE than copal. Unfortunately, some dealers are more preoccupied with high economic returns, rather than whether or not their resin is fossil or recent. Fortunately, there are tests that can be done to differentiate the two. The most deceptive and malicious dealers will try to impress uninformed prospective buyers as they spout all sorts of seemingly-impressive but irrelevant scientific garbage, ignoring the simple facts and obvious age differences in amber versus copal. These fraudulent dealers will attempt to convince naive and trusting buyers that copal IS amber when this couldn't be further from the truth. A warning to buyers of COPAL WHO THINK THEY ARE GETTING AMBER - unlike true fossil amber, copal will craze deeply on the surface as early as only a few years when the volatiles (turpenes) from the original resin evaporate. It is NOT rare to find spectacular types and concentrations of inclusions in copal - it IS rare to find the same in true fossil amber. If the same inclusions were found in true fossil amber, the value of the specimen would be exceedingly higher in price than the same specimen in copal. The problem is, you cannot even compare inclusions because most of the life-forms found in true fossil amber are now EXTINCT whereas the types of inclusions found in copal are MODERN and still living today! Often, naive collectors fall victim to dishonest fossil dealers and are suckered into a higher price for a piece of copal that is loaded with fascinating inclusions as they confuse the rarity of these inclusions with genuine fossil amber. Despite what appears to be valuable, copal is worth only a small fraction of what an equal specimen in genuine fossil amber would sell for. Copal, an immature and controversial resin, is a much younger form of tree resin compared to the prehistoric nature of true fossil amber. Columbia, South America has extensive deposits of copal which is frequently sold as amber. CARBON 14 TESTS UNDERTAKEN ON COLOMBIAN COPAL HAVE SHOWN IT IS LESS THAN 250 YEARS OLD! Madagascar and Kenya also have highly fossiliferous copal mines. Their age is likely to be roughly the same as the Colombian deposits, if not younger. There are no known true fossil amber deposits in Colombia so if a piece of "amber" is being sold with a source of "Colombia", it is COPAL and is NOT REAL FOSSIL AMBER. There are several types of copal from different geographic regions and trees other than Colombia. Zanzibar copal from East Africa was possibly produced by the Trachylobium verrucasum (also known as Hymenaea verrucosa), while Kauri copal from New Zealand was produced by the Kauri pine, Agathis australis. Sierra Leone and Congo copal are both from a leguminous tree, Copaifera guibourthiana. Manila copal, produced by trees in the genus Agathis, is found in Indonesia and the Philippines. Dammar resin was produced by dipterocarpaceous trees in southern Asia, i.e., Malaya and Sumatra. Various tropical trees, such as Hymenaea courbaril or Hymenae protea, produce Colombian and Brazilian copal. Major deposits of copal are produced from tropical legume and araucarian trees (conifers indigenous today to South America and Australia) and are found in tropical or wet temperate regions where these resin producing trees still exist. Large pieces of Colombian copal have been illegally imported into Poland and then sold as Baltic material. 8 Tests to Identify COPAL VERSUS AMBER There are a number of simple tests that can be carried out on amber to check its authenticity. More sophisticated and complex tests are possible but they require access to laboratory equipment. These more complex tests include Refraction Index, Precise Specific Gravity and Melting Point. The latest and most decisive contribution to the chemistry of succinite and other fossil resins has been made by pyrolysis gas chromatography in combination with mass spectrometry. This technique has been used create the first exclusive chemical classification of fossil resins. For the layperson with no special equipment, the following eight tests are adequate. When examining a specimen you should try at least 3 of the following methods detailed here. If the item in question fails any one of the tests, it could well mean the piece is not true amber. (Test 1) HARDNESS. Amber has a hardness on the Moh’s scale in the region of 2 - 3. Using appropriate scratch sticks it should be reasonably straightforward to test the sample under question. (Test 2) HOT NEEDLE. Heat a needlepoint in a flame until glowing red and then push the point into the sample for testing. With copal, the needle melts the material quicker than amber and omits a light fragrant odor. Amber when tested, does not melt as quickly as the copal and omits sooty fumes. (Test 3) SOLUBILITY. Copal will dissolve in acetone. This test can be done by dispensing the acetone from an eyedropper onto a clean surface of the test specimen. Place one drop on the surface of the test piece and allow to evaporate, then place a second drop on the same area. Copal will become tacky while amber will remain unaffected by contact with acetone. (Test 4) UV Copal under a short-wave UV light shows hardly any color change. Amber fluoresces a pale shade of blue. (Test 5) FRICTION Rub the specimen vigorously on a soft cloth. True amber may omit a faint resinous fragrance but copal may actual begin to soften and the surface become sticky. Amber will also become heavily charged with static electricity and will easily pick up small pieces of loose paper. (TEST 6) FLOTATION (Specific Gravity) Mix 23gms of standard table salt with 200ml of lukewarm water. Stir until completely dissolved. Amber should float in such a mixture and some copals together with various plastics will sink. Regular amber often has a specific gravity of 1.05 to 1.10 (where 1 is the same as water). Copal looks similar, but has a lower specific gravity of 1.03 to 1.08. A specific gravity of above 1.0 will cause the object to sink in fresh water. (TEST 7) INCLUSIONS Infrequently amber contains Flora or Fauna inclusions. Correctly identifying the trapped Insect or plant should be an excellent indicator of a piece’s authenticity. Most inclusions from ancient amber are of species that are now extinct or significantly changed. Frequently present in Baltic amber are tiny stellate hairs which are release by oak buds during their early growth and some time after, (TEST 8) KNIFE CUT With a sharp knife try to shave off a tiny piece of the amber from an unobtrusive section. Real amber fractures and splinters. plastic and polymers actual cut and tiny shaved pieces can be removed without any splintering of the material. Regards, Will P.S.- I learned about this the hard way.