A Few African Garnets

30. May 2020 17:44

Garnets are generally one of my favorite stones to facet. Usually they cooperate and take a nice polish without fighting back.  Sometimes they end up a bit too dark -- a classic red that won't sparkle.  Sometimes there are fine needle inclusions that make for a sleepy look to the stone.  Often they can contain interesting inclusions that are easily visible while the stone is on the dop and being examined with magnification but when finished, the inclusions are not a detriment to the overall appearance of the stone.  So while I was in Tucson, I could not resist picking up a few parcels of small African garnets.  As a balance to the larger (time consuming) pieces I was cutting using the fantasy machine, I dopped up a few of these for quick positive reinforcement.

This is a 1.30 carat garnet from Malawi which is 5.5 mm. across.  There is quite a color range in the stones coming from this region.  This stone tends towards the orangish side.

Next is another Malawi garnet which is has a purple red color.  It is 7.8 mm. in diameter and is 1.64 carats.

Even more purple this garnet from Umba region of Tanzania is 1.56 carats and 6.7 mm.

Like the Malawi garnets, the Umba garnets also have a wide range of color.  This orangish red one is 1.06 carats and 6.0 mm. across.

 Another parcel was labeled "Ruvu River" which is also in Tanzania.  This slightly purplish garnet is 1.02 carats, 5.8 mm.

 

 

 

 

Amethyst experiments

21. May 2020 22:33

So once things were more or less caught up after Tucson, it was time for additional experiments with concave and fantasy variations.  First up is a 12.0 mm., 5.24 carat amethyst pentagon where concave facets were used for every other pavilion facet reaching the culet.

Next is this hexagon shaped amethyst which is 12.31 carats and is 14.5 mm. across. Similar to what was done with the pentagon,  this one has every other culet facet done as concave rather than flat facets.

The third amethyst in this group is 14.0 mm. across and weights 13.47 carats.  The concave facets were placed on the pavilion corners and as the center culet facets.

Then, for fun, a series of four round amethysts ranging in size from the 8.79 carat, 13.6 mm. one pictured above down to an 8.9mm., 2.58 carat version.  The culet facets of the pavilion were done as concave facets.  The diameter of the mandrel used for these was adjusted as the diameter of the stone changed.  Then for the crown, instead of the usual series of flat (or concave) facets, it was done as a single ring .

 

 

 

March Garden Report - Lemonade Time

25. March 2020 23:39

It has been a wet March, so not a lot of outside time.  Which is perfectly fine since we got no rain in February and the rainy season will be ending very soon. 

Last fall I decided it was past time to divide the patches of daffodils that I had planted between the trees in our orchard.  It turned out that there was a lot more baby bulbs that I expected.  In several places the bulbs were being pushed out of the ground because there were so many in the group. The new spot for them had to be a spot where they would not get in the way of mowing so I decided to plant them along the fence that is on one side of our property. 

When the task was done I wondered if I would have any blooms this year in the orchard as I had removed so many.  As we got below normal rain this winter, I was concerned that the transplanted daffodils would not survive.  So I was happy to see that there were still plenty left in the orchard.  And now that I finally made it over to the fence area, was very pleased to see how many flowers had bloomed.  Hopefully, they will be happy there and multiply over the coming years.  (Note: gophers don't eat these bulbs and it looks like the deer are not interested in the rest.)

 

Meanwhile, along the driveway, the citrus is working overtime.  The Meyer lemon is covered in flowers.  And there is a large crop ready (or almost) for harvest from last years blooms.  The deer do seem to think citrus is delicious, so most of the fruit is in the back or well inside the branches where they were safe from the deer's pruning. 

A small number appeared ready to pick.  This group provided a couple ice cube trays of juice for use when I need a little lemon juice for a recipe.  And there was enough left for at least one large pitcher of lemonade.  When the rest is ready I will have lemonade for several months. Before I juice them, I will take peel from the prettier ones to dehydrate to use when I need lemon peel.  

 And down the row a bit from the Meyer lemon tree is a Valencia orange.  Looks like I should have lots of fresh squeezed OJ soon.

Yes, More Hexagons

7. March 2020 23:18

Before I went off February 1st for ten wonderful days in Tucson, I was trying some variations to better understand how different facet placements would impact the resulting gem.  While there are software programs that will attempt to do that for flat facets, concave facets and fantasy variations are not included.  So I set up several stones and cut them with the same flat facet pattern but differences with the fantasy machine cuts. (Besides, faceting is more fun that sitting at the keyboard.)

The first one is a 12.61 carat lemon citrine which has all of the pavilion row of facets done with the regular mandrels for concave work.  It is 14.6 mm. across, so I managed to work in more facets than I have been using in some of the smaller hexagons.

 

Using that same flat facet arrangement, I did two somewhat smaller amethysts.  For one, a 6.60 carat, 12.8 mm. stone when done, I used a rounded fantasy wheel and made some small curved cuts.  These added some "lights" which seem to be inside the stone.

 

On the other amethyst, which finished at 5.65 carats, 11.2 mm., I added a lot more of these compound concave "facets".  It looks like the stone is full of glitter.

 

For a totally different variation, after returning from Tucson, I tried something along the lines of the demonstration done at the USFG seminar on Fantasy cutting.  For this one, which is 5.40 carats and 11.0 mm. across,  I used a slitter and cut grooves from the culet most of the length of the corner facets.  These were left unpolished and they are reflected by the other facets to give the appearance of having many more grooves than were actually created.

 

 

Meanwhile, back at the farm

12. February 2020 18:35

When I left for ten wonderful days of gem related shows and events in Tucson, the garden was in its winter sleep except for weeds which were taking advantage of the situation to get a head start.  Yesterday afternoon when I returned, I was greeted by the beginnings of spring.

A couple of the early peaches had popped into bloom while I was away.

Daffodils of various kinds were beginning to bloom.

In the fall I had gone through the orchard and removed what I thought was most of the bulbs as they had multiplied to the point they were pushing new ones out of the ground.  As a result, I was not expecting much, if any to produce blooms this year.

But fortunately, they were not going to let me down.  Blooms are popping up everywhere.

And mixed in among the weeds are nasturtiums and calendulas which have self seeded from plantings that were done several years back.

 

Last ot 2019

7. January 2020 04:20

The holidays did not leave much time for faceting. Got only a handful of additional gems cut in the last month from the material purchased last February in Tucson. Hopefully now that the Christmas decorations are all put away for another year there will be more time in the next month to catch up a bit. Since there are about three dozen left from the 2019 material it is unlikely all of it will be cut before the end of January and I head off to Tucson again.

Meanwhile, here are three from a parcel of nice, dark orange citrine. Initially the parcel was purchased to try out concave facets on some smaller sizes (8 to 10 mm.) After trying for a few, at least in the lighter colored material, it does not seem to be worth the extra effort. They are a bit too small for the optical effects of concave facets to make a significant difference.

The first is a 2.58 carat, 9.0 mm round which has some concave facets on the pavilion. As usual, it looks a lot better in real life than is this photo.

 

Next is a 2.58 carat, 7.8 mm square.

  

And last, a 2.03 carat octagon which is 8.2 mm. across.

Greeeen

9. November 2019 23:03

While there is still a lot more to do before February 2020, I have been making some progress faceting the 2019 Tucson acquired rough. Green colored rough was among some of the first purchased and is towards the head of the list being cut. Green is my favorite color, so of course it is working that way.

Here are a two of Arizona peridots. (The photos do not do them justice. They are bright and sparkling.) The first is 9.0 mm., 2.89 carat round.

The second, also round, is 9.3 mm. and 3.29 carats.

Continuing on the green theme is this 9.3 mm., 3.30 carat chrome diopside.

There is something about that really dark shade of green...

Apple Pie Time

13. October 2019 23:26

Fall is definitely here.  The vegetable garden is pretty well done for the year and the stone fruit trees are losing their leaves.  However, the harvest continues.  Currently it is apples. The trees are still small and thanks to getting a better job done with respect to thinning the fruit, there have been a lot of very large apples this year.  A few days ago, after bringing in the latest batch from the garden, it was time to consolidate with what had accumulated in the fridge.  A couple dozen nice sized eating apples were picked out for snacking and went back to the fridge for the future. 

Then there were the remainder.  I was planning on making an apple pie.  But this was a bit more than one pie. The three rows on the right in the photo are Granny Smith apples.  The huge ones in the middle are Mutsu.  The remainder are an assortment -- mostly ones that were bruised, bird pecked or not very pretty for eating out of hand. 

apples

After a marathon session of peeling, coring and slicing, I had three large bowls overflowing with apple slices.  It was then I discovered that the shopping list my last Costco trip should have included all purpose flour.  I had only enough flour for at most three pies. Things went downhill from that point. The bowls with the apple slices and pie dough went into the fridge until I could get to the grocery store the next morning.

With the additional flour on hand, I lined up the six available pie plans, rolled out the crusts and filled them with the apples. For most, I used a streusel topping.  (It is easier and faster than making a top crust.)  When all the pie pans were full, there was still the better part of one of the bowls left with apple slices.   I found a couple of other pans and made more streusel for two apple crisps.

The largest pie pan went into the oven for desert later that day.  The rest received multiple layers of plastic wrap and went into the freezer.  It appears we will be having a lot of apple pies in the coming weeks.

pies

Next up -- what to do with all the pears.

Last off the dop

22. September 2019 14:49

It feels even longer than it probably has been, but at last I finally finished the baker's dozen stones that were dopped in preparation for the faceting demonstration the first weekend of August. Now that fall is just about here and the shows are over for a while, I hope to get back to a routine which has a lot more faceting time included.

Here is pictured one of the last off the dop - a 5.08 ct. lemon citrine which is 18.7 x 7.0 mm. and was another experiment with the fantasy machine tools I am still learning to use.

End of Summer Harvest Notes

21. September 2019 17:18

Walking into the local Costco and seeing the artificial Christmas trees blinking in the seasonal area is a sure sign that summer has come to an end for the year. Much of the garden faded a month ago.  Of course, some of that was due to the critters which have breached the perimeter defenses. The cottontail bunnies started arriving at dawn and dusk to dine on greens.  It is absolutely true that they like carrots -- or at least carrot tops.  Green beans and peas seem also to be favorites on their menu.  While the bunnies tend to avoid being out during the bright parts of the day, ground squirrels seem to favor that time.  Until a few years ago there were none in our neighborhood.  This year they came in invasion force.  Fencing barely slows them down.  They seem to have very short attention spans picking an almost ripe tomato and then dropping it half eaten in another part of the garden.

The early summer was cool, so the garden peas did well until too much cool fog encouraged mildew in the thick tangle of the plants.  Unlike the previous year there was a nice harvest of apricots as well as other stone fruit.

 

 

One evening I found a large gopher snake making its way through the garden.  It seemed like there were not as many snakes around the past couple years as there had been, so I welcomed this visitor and hoped that it would eat well reducing the gopher population that has been making swiss cheese like holes everywhere.

 

 

By late July the stone fruit was abundant.  Lots of canning and freezing and juicing resulted in a full freezer and pantry shelf.

 

 

 

As the stone fruit faded, the apples and pears made up for it.  The trees are still fairly small and I did manage to do a reasonable job of thinning the fruit clusters.  The result has been much larger apples seriously weighing down some of the still thin branches. To handle this bounty, we decided that turning it into a few gallons of cider (not the alcoholic kind) was a good solution.

At this point there are plenty of apples remaining on the trees which will ripen over the next couple months. And figs and a few pomegranates will be ready as the year ends. 

 

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