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Jason Tweedie

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Hi All,


Thought I would post this piece as it's been a while since the last. Have had a rib and hip injury keeping my from creating, but am slowly starting to come good.


The material is Australian Crystal Opal from Lightning Ridge, not very valuable opal with only a touch of fire, but large enough to extract a twisted form of a reasonable size 6(h) x 2.5(w) x 2(d) cms.


Some more Jade pieces almost complete and they will be coming soon.


Cheers Jason


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I cannot believe what you did with this stone carving! It just seems that you should not be able to do this with stone. It is calming to look at the gentle flow and curl. The translucence and slight fire are perfect for the form. Do you have any other photo angles taken of it to show us?



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Thanks Janel, your kind words are much regarded, like you love the curling forms nature inspires us with.


I was quite happy with the outcome, considering the low grade material. I do like the blues and oranges it gets when cut thin.

Opal is a challenge to work as it is quite soft and brittle compared to Jade and other hard stone, so i did loose the

occasional edge or corner in the making.


I don't have another photo sorry as I was in a hurry at the time....but you may be wondering...I have not fully undercut the

front face from the inner one, just an undercut line/edge was enough to give the impression of space. This was so the cylinder

could remain totally enclosed to give the piece some strength.


Cheers, Jason

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Thanks for the fantastic feedback on that piece...


Mike: luv your latest knife...it looks efficient and very connected to the flow of the sea.


Billy: Your work has the power of ancient legends.


Danny: Like you I luv the fire stones, the opals and agates. Been meaning to contribute to the gemstone threads you guys have had going, but most questions have been answered. The one that keeps coming up time and again I have noticed is "How do you make carving gemstones quick and easy" and like you have said...there is no "quick and easy" with stone....its just patience, determination and a lot of hand sanding.


Maha; Anything is possible with GEM quality Pounamu (NZ Jade) although it dosen't have the translucency of crystal opal. I have had a couple of goes at bone...but I don't dig the smell of the dust...but it seems like a very flexible medium and it is possible to cut it like wood giving better details, rather than the grinding process of stone.


Cheers all, Jason

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That's a REALLY kewl carving!


I can just imagine the difficulty in removing that inner most material while trying NOT to touch the surrounding back of the front part of the form!


What kind of a tip did you use to "rough in" the initial form? How long in total did it take you to complete this carving, or ar you like me, and don't even bother to look at the clock....ever...lol.


As I've mentioned previously, opals are my real love, and I'm most familiar with carving opals over anything else, but now I've discovered jade, and gone from one extreme to the other, perhaps it reflects on my "Bi-Polar" personality, hehe.


You mentioned about the "value" of the material being low, but in MY opinion, gemstone "values" are drastically misjudged, and I personally think that if you took a piece of cow dung and carved something beautiful and meaningful out of it, it's "value" would be EQUAL to the highest value black Lightning Ridge opal, as to me at least, the "value" is in the artwork, not the money that some fool decided he was going to set the market at, based on completely materialistic virtues...LOL


Rest assured that you have GIVEN this piece tremendous value in that there is not another one like it on the face of the earth, and a little bit of yourself is inside that carving, and if a piece of a person's heart and soul isn't a high value item, then something is clearly wrong with the way we determine something's worth!


Keep up the great work, glad to see another opal carver in here!


Chris ;)

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Natasha, Robert and Chris thanks for the great compliments.


Natasha, the Carp you recently posted was brilliant, so much character with exceptional details....I really liked it in the initial carved state too! (before the scales etc) thanks for that tip for carving scales in horn...I have a jade fish/eel/serpent critter almost complete, I will post soon.


Robert, I enjoyed your mini dagger...a relic from the pixies or faries?


Chris, Nice effort at your first Jade carving....you have got the knack of holding good lines without losing the details in the sanding process....good idea getting rid of the high polish (as you say, too many reflections, but a lot of people luv it)...good jade really does get that gloss/watery effect very easy, the challenge is to keep a nice satin finish like the ancient Chinese and Meso-american cultures.


One burr I use a lot, and a lot of commercial carvers do most of their roughing out with, is the straight cylinder around 5-8mm dia (the slightly inverted cone-{pic1sintered] you have in your post will work too) you can use the side, edge and the face (pushing into the piece), holding the burr at the right angle you can carve two sides at once, achieving the ridges and channels like your black jade piece. (its just like a mini grinding wheel )....the faster you can rotate a burr the smoother it will carve hard stone (eg 40,000 - 50,000) but easy on the speed slowly to avoid the burr bending at right angles and munching your fingers and piece. (I don't think your foredom will do those speeds) when possible move up to a NSK micomotor or NSK air-handpiece they are expensive but open up a new world in the realm of carving...less vibration, solid sealed bearings, high speed and good torque...hard stone carving has no mercy on your tools.


I agree with you about the value of material...as in the "eye of the beholder" as long as it looks nice and solid enough to carve I'm into it, the $$$s are the last thing on the list....unfortunately for a lot of us artists, thats what brings us undone in this crazy commercialised world. Right now I am out looking for another office job to keep the funds rolling in...times are tough! lol


The one tip that is essential to hard stone carvers that I have not seen mentioned anywhere is "to sand in as many different directions as possible through all the different grits and the polishing stage" this helps to distribute the light refraction more evenly and is the only way to remove any stubborn scratches (it also helps to prevent the orange-peeling effect), sanding in one direction like with wood does'nt work with stone.



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Good point about the multi-direction sanding, it makes sense. I use this approach with non-wood materials.


You wrote above: "...the challenge is to keep a nice stain finish..." Did you mean "satin finish"? Just a typo, but that one word is the subject you were discussing and means something quite different. I think that members have an Edit button to use to go back and make changes to your posts.



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Hi all,


I'm not sure where it was mentioned, either in a private email from someone who is a member here, or on one of my threads, but someone "did" mention about sanding in multiple directions, at least to "me", as I remember that was one of the reasons I purchased the Foredom unit that I did, as the SR model I bought has a reverse and forward switch on it, which now that I think about it, I couldn't live without!


Since I'm a Lefty, and hold the handle in my left hand, I find that I'm exclusively using the Foredom while in the "REV" position, and only switch it to the other "FWD" setting to do like to mentioned, sand in different directions to obtain as even a finish as possible.


It just feels "weird" for me to use the Foredom in the forward position, and in fact, it surprised me that when I had the Foredom set in the FWD position one day, and was using a mandrel with an end screw that holds a metal cutting disk on it (to cut brass rods) that it actually unscrewed itself!


I would have thought that spinning in the "forward" direction would have not unscrewed the end screw if it was a standard direction for all bits, now I'm thinking that my old Mastercraft Dremel style units ALL spun in what Foredom calls "reverse"!! Maybe THAT'S why it feels SO weird to use the Foredom in the FWD position! It just feels like I have no real control in that direction when I can feel it grabbing when the burr is cutting into the material, but when it is in the REV position, i have great control. My hands maybe? Hmmm.....


I actually DID to that repetitively while carving that first black jade carving of mine, and I have to say thank you to those who guided me to the purchase of the right "Foredom" unit for me, and also who gave me such great advice since I've come to this forum.


Holding the lines is something that I find to be VERY difficult when sanding and final polishing an opal carving, as it is SO soft, the details just seem to "drift" from here to there, and if your not careful, you end up with either a very different design or placement of details in your carving, or very rounded polished edges that are poorly defined, that is usually the result of a final polish done via a soft polishing medium, like a felt tip or similar.


I try to keep the polishing tips as hard as possible from start to finish, unless I'm not trying to carve detail, and looking for a flowing type effect.


Regarding the recommendation of a micro motor unit, I'd really like to try one some day, just to "feel" the difference for myself, as I am a bit disappointed that the Foredom does give quite a bit of vibration, and I'm still constantly having to stop my work, and violently swing my left hand back and forth to try to shake the numbness out of it, it's a REAL pain in the butt!


Not only do I have that Raynaud's disease, which severely restricts circulation from my extremities like my hands, but I also have the great luck to have carpel tunnel in my left hand as well, making all the more fun....LOL


I have to make sure the burr is positioned just right in the chuck, or it will vibrate, and really be annoying, and also, I must REALLY ensure that any brass tips I make are totally centered when I make them, or they'll vibrate also.


I'm not sure I like the standard #30 hand piece that comes with the Foredom, it's quite large and clumsy, and is actually harder to manipulate because of that, and also, where that little dip is that you put the chuck key in to tighten a bit in place, my fingers have happened to wander in there a few times when it was turned in the other direction and I couldn't see it, resulting in quite a nasty little friction burn from that high speed spinning chuck teeth! Ouch! It's happening enough for me to want to change to a finer more maneuverable hand piece, that maybe is one of the "quick change" ones, perhaps that will offer some protection, and allow greater comfort while working.


Anyhow, sorry to steal the thread like that, one thing leads to another when you start discussing this stuff, know what I mean!


BTW, an "hand and rib" injury? Sparring with the wife are you??



Chris ;)

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Hi Jason,


I usually don't really like opal, in fact don't like at all but what you did is absolutely splendid. Thank's for sharing

I think that the natural flow of your piece is what I like most. I'm waiting to see what you do with jade.

Take care



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