Make Your Own Crystals

Filed under: DIY Videos,Video,how to? — Gary November 1, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

DIY crystals!  Very cool.  Nice science project to try with the kids.  These instructions will show you how to make home made crystals using everyday ingredients.

  • 1 brick
  • 4 tbsp. table salt- no iodine
  • 1 tbsp. ammonia
  • 1 plate or bowl
  • 4 tbsp. water food colouring – Any colour your heart feels like!
  • 4 tbsp. bluing
  1. Break brick into chunks and place in bowl or on plate.
  2. Mix salt, bluing, water, ammonia and pour over brick pieces.
  3. Drop food colouring on brick pieces with no uniformity.
  4. Let sit for several days.

***Crystals are very fragile!!!

*** Should only be done under parent supervision!





Very cute video below:

This is a science project done by a young lady in Girl Scouts. It uses Epsom salt, pipe cleaner, pen, tap water and a cup. She explains what she did…

How to make copper sulfate crystals:

How to make copper sulfate crystals

How to make copper sulfate crystals

Cleaning Crystals

Filed under: Cleaning Rocks,DIY Videos,Video,how to? — Gary October 28, 2010 @ 6:44 am

Its an easy 3 step procedure-

1-First step is critical -the clay/mud must be washed off the crystals- a toothbrush is good if you have a small piece to clean.  Larger pieces can be placed in the sun for a day then cooled down in the shade and then given a wash with the garden hose.  Repeating the sun process will dry and crack the clay and make for an easy rinse with the hose.    You can use a pressure washer as well if clay is hard to get off.

2- Removing the iron:  If the crystal has a very light iron staining then a few days soaking in a weak oxalic acid solution will do the trick -covered bucket.

**If iron staining is heavy then you must “cook”  the quartz in an acid solution

3-The most commonly used chemical for cleaning quartz is oxalic acid which may be purchased in a powder form.  When mixed with water at a few ounces per gallon and then heated to just below a boil it is capable of removing all but the most stubborn iron stains.  WARNING – fumes are toxic and very dangerous.  Only do this outside away from children and wearing protective gear.

** A slow cooker or crock pot works well.

**If your specimens begins to grow a white powder as they dry, place them back in a clean crock pot, add water and a 1/3 a cup of baking soda, and cook overnight. This will neutralize the remaining acid as it comes out of the nooks and crannies of the specimens. If this does not work to get rid of the white powder problem, then you will need to cook them again in clean water with baking soda as a neutralizer.

I have had to clean small crystal clusters as many as 5 times before coming totally clean, have patience.

I have also used the product “Iron Out” as well.  It is sold at places like Walmart and is used to get rid of rust stains in sinks and toilets.

Make Your Own Rock Tumbler

Filed under: DIY Videos,Video,how to? — Gary October 24, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

I get a lot of feedback about people making their own rock tumblers.  These videos show  how to make them yourself and what they look like- DIY rock tumblers.  If you want to submit your own step by step rock tumbler instructions or video just send me an email.

This is a very inexpensive one that works!

Thanks and enjoy, Gary-


- Salvaged 1/5hp AC motor from a whole-house exhaust fan

- 4 pillow block bearings ($9.95 each on eBay)

- Fan belt ($9 from Farm & Fleet)

- 3/4″ FIP black iron pipe ($6.50 for each 2′ piece at Menards)

I had to grind 1/16 of an inch off the circumference of each end of the iron pipes to get them to fit inside the 1″ bearings. I went through two bench grinder wheels doing it. Wooden 1″ dowels would be a simpler, easier solution.

Just make sure there’s adequate airflow to keep your motor cool.


ThunderEgg Cutting

Filed under: Video,how to? — Gary October 12, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

Cool video I found of someone cutting a ThunderEgg.

As well  did a story on a while ago.  Here is a video they put together.  Pretty interesting!

Thunderegg Hunting in Oregon

Diamond Saw

Filed under: how to? — Gary July 20, 2010 @ 6:27 pm
Diamond Saw

Diamond Saw

Diamond Saw Wont Cut- If your blade still has diamond on it, and won’t cut, run a brick, concrete, old aluminum oxide grinding wheel, or Obsidian about 3″ thru the blade. This will strip off any alloy that is covering the diamond particles allowing them to cut. If you have no diamond left, you need a new blade.

Keeping the Oil Out -If you suspect that the rock you are about to cut will soak in oil, you should soak the rock in water for at least 24 hours before cutting. This fills the porous areas with water. Cutting oil can stain some stones. Denim Lapis is an example. Soaking in water really helps to minimize oil soak in.

How to Make Wire Wrapped Rings

Filed under: how to? — Gary January 31, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

Wire Wrapping Jewelry Basics

Filed under: how to?,regular postings — Gary @ 10:07 pm

Make Wire Jewelry
What Is Wire Temper?

The temper of a wire refers to the hardness or softness of the wire. Softer wire is easier to work with and gets harder as you work with it. Wire is sold in three tempers: dead-soft, half-hard and full-hard or spring-hard.

Which kind of wire temper do I want to use?

Dead-soft wire has been heated or annealed to make it more malleable and easy to work with. It will bend and coil without difficulty. You can create your piece and work harden the wire as you go or at the end in a tumbler.

Half-hard wire is harder to work with then dead-soft, but some wire jewel makers prefer to use it. Over the years, taking classes and after reading wire books I have found that this is a personal preference. If I want my wire to be half-hard, I pull on and work harden my dead soft wire before starting the project. After time you will see what you prefer.

Full-hard(spring-hard) wire refers to wire that does not bend easily and is not generally used for wire jewelry

making. You can use this type of wire to make spring back pins.

Note: As you work with dead-soft wire, you are changing its temper and making it hard. It will go from dead-soft to full-hard.

Wire Wrapping Jewelry Basics
Wire Shape and Size

The more you know about the wire you work with, the better your projects will be. Check out some basics below.

Wire Shapes

There are four shapes of wire: round, half-round square, square and triangular. The names are accurate to the shape that the wire is when looking at its cross-section. The most popular of these shapes is the round wire, although some artists prefer working with the other shapes more often.

Wire Sizes

Wire is sized by its thickness. Popular wire gauges are 14-guage to 26-guage. The thicker the wire the smaller the gauge number. 14-gauge wire is thicker than 16-gauge wire and 26-gauge wire is thin. In other places than the U.S. wire is sold in diameters measured in millimeters. The chart below gives you a gauge to diameter(approx) conversion. Popular wire sizes are 18-gauge to 22-gauge.

Beaded Jewelry Making
Free Projects and Patterns

Making beaded jewelry and other types of beading projects is such a fulfilling and fun craft. Beauty, history and heritage can be found in beading and beads – it’s very intriguing. This section of my site has gotten quite big with many free bead patterns and projects to share. To the left you will find a list of the types of bead projects, including different topics like holidays or prom patterns. There are also ever growing beginner and basic beading instructions to be found there. Below you will find a bead projects and patterns index by name with all types of beaded jewelry projects listed. I hope this helps you, my site visitor, with navigation. I also hope it helps me keep all of the beady things I offer here straight, lol! Enjoy ~ Denise

Newest Beaded Jewelry Projects:
5 Beaded Angels to Make
I’m sharing these in a bead swap and I thought I would share how I put together some of the beaded angels with everyone. Enjoy!

All Beaded Jewelry Projects:

Hundreds of projects! Read on…

Safety Rules / Tips for Rockhounds

Filed under: how to? — Gary January 24, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

Download this pamphlet put out by the Arizona State Mine Inspector’s Office- Safety Tips For Rockhounds – Abandoned Mines-

Click Here To Download PDF Pamphlet


Many rockhounding sites require driving and/or hiking to remote areas, largely on dirt, sand or rocky roads where there is a good possibility of getting stuck. It is always a good idea to travel in a group and to bring plenty of drinking water with you when traveling, especially in hot, dry climates. If you must travel alone, be sure to let someone know of your plans.

It is advised to use safety goggles whenever rocks are struck, whether breaking open small stones or chipping a piece off a large boulder. Flakes of stone can seriously injure the eyes. Also, be aware that the dust that comes from chipping and cutting rock can be extremely hazardous to the lungs. If necessary, use a mask or respirator.

    Collection Gear

  1. Rockhounds need various tools to collect rocks and minerals. Rock hammers have a blunt end on one side and a chiseled end on the other. The blunt end is use to break off a piece of rock while the chiseled end can be used for prying. Rockhounds carry mallets and small chisels as well for finer, more delicate collection work. A pocket knife is a good instrument to test mineral hardness. Rockhounds also use hand lenses to magnify the minerals for identification purposes. A cloth, sample containers and a bucket or backpack are all helpful in rock collection.
  2. Safety Gear

  3. Rock collecting requires the use of safety gear. Eye protection is necessary to protect your eyes from flying debris as you break pieces of rock off outcrops. Heavy gloves protect your hands from sharp pieces of rock that break off samples as they are collected. If the rock collecting is done on an outcrop that is taller than you or has an overhang, the use of a hard hat becomes necessary to protect yourself from falling debris. A first aid kit is helpful for any cuts, bruises, or injuries that may be sustained during the exhibition.
  4. Nature Safety

  5. Rockhound exhibitions often occur in remote locations in nature. Prepare for the trip by putting on bug spray and sunscreen. Make sure that you are aware of your surroundings as you work. Know what poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac look like so that you can avoid them. Be careful when working around brush as many snakes like to take shelter there. Make sure that you bring plenty of water and snacks to avoid dehydration.
  6. Safety Techniques

  7. Avoid collecting from a steep slope with loose material. Disturbing the slope may cause a landslide which could lead to injury. Avoid collecting from an outcrop that has a overhang. Striking the rock could lead to less stability in the outcrop and may cause falling debris. Be aware of sharp fragments you create as you collect the rocks. Remove these sharp fragments to keep fellow collectors and animals safe.
  8. Collection Tips

  9. Place each sample in a collection container as you collect them. The collection containers may be a plastic baggie, a piece of newspaper, or a plastic collection jar. Label each sample as you collect them. Note that you do not have to identify the rock on the collection container, but you should be specific into where each sample was found. This ensures that samples do not get mixed up when you return home.

DIY Rockhound Flat Lap Machine

Filed under: how to? — Gary January 21, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

A complete grinding, shaping, smoothing and polishing lapidary unit.

This is a cool site you should check out.  He lists maps of every state and places to rockhound in each of them.  He built a cool machine and fully explained how to make one yourself.  Try it out…

make your own / DIY Flat Lap machine

make your own / DIY Flat Lap machine

Information on the construction of my 8 inch flat lap for faceting/general use.

General Description

After doing a bit of research, I decided it was time to attempt the construction of a flat lap.  My main interest was in accuracy for use in faceting with the added ability to be used as a general purpose lap.  To address the accuracy issues, I chose to use a direct drive system which eliminates the variables caused by belt stretch.  Also, I thought that a DC motor would be the simplest to apply a speed control to and also had the benefit of being easily reversible in direction.  My choice for a motor was a 3/4 HP 130 volt DC ball bearing, permanent magnet motor that was originally constructed for use in an exercise treadmill system.  Since I was able to find matched components in surplus, I also opted to use the speed control used in the same treadmill. The housing for the lap is constructed from 8″ x 1″ dimensional Poplar lumber.  The top is constructed from 3/4 inch Lexan since it is a very rigid and stable material, though my primary choice would have been tool grade aluminum plate.  Price was the main consideration for choosing Lexan which I ordered from McMaster-Carr.  I purchased the motor and speed control from Surplus Center and the Lexan from McMaster-Carr.  The lumber and other hardware came from Lowes.

Rest of article here:

Willow Creek Jasper

Filed under: how to?,regular postings — Gary January 16, 2008 @ 9:46 am

Willow Creek Porcelain Jasper
Article written by : Philip Stephenson 8/17/07
The intent of this article is to educate the public and not to discredit any individual or organization.

Willow Creek Jasper is one of finest porcelain jaspers in the world. Given the quality of material seen on the Internet, most collectors are not aware of the outstanding qualities of premium material. Willow Creek jasper is mined 15 miles north of Eagle, Idaho. (NW of Boise, Idaho). The Jasper forms in the center of giant thunder eggs and rarely in seams. One of the prevailing theories, as far as Willow Creek goes, is that these thunder eggs formed deep within the earth, then were trusted up through large volcanic vents where they accumulated and solidified surrounded by very hard rhyolite.

Mining the Thunder eggs is very difficult hard rock mining. Dynamite is used to loosen the eggs within the rhyolite matrix and once loosened, next comes the back hoe and pry bar. Once free, the eggs may only be opened by sledgehammer and wedges.

Willow Creek Jasper is known for its subtle pastel colors, streamer patterns, and egg or orb patterns. Premium quality Willow Creek is unmatched. It takes an extreme high gloss… like liquid glass. People who have worked Willow Creek say it has pastel colors and is somewhat soft and delicate in nature…perhaps, but top premium quality Willow has dramatic coloring, and incredible patterning. I consider it the purest porcelain of the porcelain jaspers. The Willow Creek Mine has been producing jasper for the past 35+ years but unfortunately a good deal of low grade is sold on the internet market today.

High grading Willow Creek rough is a little tricky and should only be done by someone with experience with this material or by having the actual rough in your hands to inspect. Low grade Willow is often times sold as “good quality” only to have iron pits and iron stains though the entire piece. The pits are actually tiny iron balls that when cut take on the pit look to them. Anyway, here’s a prime example: Notice the iron pitting and stains within the jasper. Example #1, Example #2, Example #3 . Cabochons with these iron pits are very unattractive and will undercut within the harder jasper surrounding it. Here’s a cabochon that looks more like Chicken Pox, it’s actually iron pits. Example #4.

Still, not all is lost if you happen to get “THE POX” in your rough Willow Creek pieces. Many times you can still work around these bad spots but of course you are limited in your choices of patterns, also there might be a hidden pit just under the surface. In slabs, you can get an idea if there might be a hidden pit by looking at the other side but most often the sellers on Ebay do not have a picture of other side. Example #5. Rust on the other hand there’s no way around it…the area is unusable.

Compared to other fine jaspers, Willow Creek has fewer natural fractures (cracks made by Mother Nature) which makes it more desirable when trying to optimize material losses. The fractures that do exist are typically single fractures and not spidery. Although the area close to the impacts of the hammer normally gets pretty messed up, see this Ebay example: Example #6. Single fractures result from the breaking and wedging open the large thunder eggs. Helpful hint: When trying to buy any rough or slab by a photo it’s always desirable to see the rough/slab item you are buying dry, verses wet. Wet will make any fracture or defect disappear. Here’s a very good example: I found this a few years back out on one of my rockhunting trips. I got very excited about the orbs with the black jasper background. Wet Example #7, Dry Example #7.1. Now, it’s my wife’s favorite stepping stone in her garden.

Now, see two examples of Willow Creek Porcelain Jasper at its most purest. These are now in my Willow Creek Collection. Example #8. Example #9

Buying unproven rough of any kind or finished pieces over the internet should undertaken with extreme caution. Only a few reputable dealers sell excellent Willow Creek Jasper on the Internet including finished pieces, and proven or unproven rough.