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Fire Agate


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I had a very dear friend that was one of the best stone carvers ever, unfortunately he died a few years ago or I’d insist that he become involved in this forum, maybe he was. Some of you probably knew him and I am sure you would agree with the statement I just made. His name Whittaker Freegard, not that much of his work on the web but its worth a search.


Anyway the last time I saw Whit was Tucson four years ago, we were visiting over dinner and I was lamenting the fact that I’d never been much of a carver, Whit said something very uplifting to me, what do you mean .......... Look at the fire agates you just showed me. I realized at this time that if you take the time to truly carve a fire agate rather than cut it, you can include yourself amongst the carvers of the world.


Below are three fire agates I carved awhile ago, fire agates are one of the most difficult stones to cut properly and in doing so the hours mount up. The stone on the left took roughly forty hours to complete. I most likely won’t be doing a whole lot of fire agate in the future, but with some of the rough I have on hand the temptation will be there and sooner or later I won’t be able to resist.


All my best ....... Danny




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You have it perfectly, they look like natural stones. I have posted an image of four pieces of rough fire agate as found to give you an idea of what a person starts with.


Firstly you have to remove the outer layer of chalcedony to get down the brown iron oxide layers, the color lays in this iron oxide if there is any color. The way the layers form up is like the layering in an onion and never flat usually in botryoidal (rounded) bubbles, this said you have no choice but to carefully remove layer after layer until you come across color, once color is found you work over the entire stone to see where the color goes, this establishes where the gem is in the stone. After you know where the gem is then you have to carefully remove all of the non color to expose all of the color in its true glory.


Many fire agate stones have little thickness to the color layers, sometimes only about 1/64 of an inch (fifteen thousandths) so needless to say if you are not extremely careful in your cutting you blow through the color layer and then have a stone with a brown eye right in the color layer thus taking it from Gem to just another fire agate that someone messed up. Most fire agate is ruined in cutting caused by impatience, so true gems are very rare and very sought after, especially those that look like natural stones.


For some years I had a page on my website that had hour by hour images of a stone as it was cut from rough to finish, I think there were fifty three images when I finally quit posting them. I tried in vain today to find the folder with the page in it to no avail, I decided its on my old computer and was to lazy to go and dig it out. I did find some images of a stone starting after the chalcedony was removed, not hourly images but enough to give you in idea of just how much carving is involved. You can see these images at this link if you are curious. http://www.lopacki.com/fire/ I have never quite finished this stone but it gives a good idea of the process.


If you would like to see over one hundred fire agates ranging from twenty dollars to sixty eight hundred dollars go to this link. I am sure you will see some that get a true rise. Most of the stones were not cut by myself ad most have not been sculptural cut, but many are well worht seeing. http://www.lopacki.com/stone/facab/


All my best ............ Danny


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Thank you for the links and the explanation of where the gem is and what must be done to reveal it. What a strikingly beautiful thing to find embedded in stone. Such patience and care you must have when seeking the optimum point of removal.



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