A Spheremaker’s Workshop

Someone asked to see my work space. It’s not pretty but here are some pictures. I carved out about a 1/4 of space in my 2.5 car garage. I have two home made sphere machines, a regular drill press, a Cab King cabbing machine, and a Lortone 10″ rock saw. I really could use a much larger saw as I am forced to cut rock much too large for the saw and chew thru blades like crazy! But I must make due for now. I’m looking at buying a larger saw once I hit the Lotto. I hope you like my dirty internet pictures.

Lake Michigan Rocks Variety

My main rockhounding spot is on the shores of Lake Michigan. I think it could be the best place on earth in terms of variety. You never know what you are going to find. If you follow my blog at all, you’d see that I collect a lot of petoskey stones, slag glass, and MI septarians. But I’ll always find something else that will catch my eye and throw them in the bucket. Here are some of those finds from this year. They are in my “to-do” bin for making small spheres.

Jim Morrison is Alive! (Ok, He’s Dead, But His Face Is On My Rock!)

I found this unakite stone up north in Michigan. I threw it in my rock tumbler and after the initial tumble I pulled it out along with the others and this is what I found on the surface! Now I’m no Doors fan, and I certainly would have preferred to see Jesus, but there is no doubt that Jim Morrison’s face magically appeared on my rock! Take a look and tell me what you think! Sadly, I no longer have the rock and gave it to my good friend’s wife, who is a huge Jim Morrison fan. I’m hoping for Cliff Burton next batch….

Giant Petoskey Fossil Sphere

I found this giant rock a month or so back in Lake Michigan near South Haven, MI. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was at first as it had a very greenish hue. The rock was too big for my saw but I cut it anyway and was pleasantly surprised to see a fair amount of Petoskey stone embedded in the otherwise fossil laden matrix. After a very rough cut, I ground it down a bit on my grinding wheel then threw it into the sphere machine. I’m glad it was a soft rock or this thing would have taken forever as out of round as it first was. Once I started this one, I had to see it through til the end. Total time just under 4 hours. Not bad. And boy is it a beauty!. It is about 3.85 inches in diameter. Check it out! I also made a few Jasper pendants.

Art Glass Marble Maker

An online friend hooked me up recently with art glass marble maker, Joe Schlemmer of madmanmarbles.com. Joe is a hell of a guy and invited me over to his glass studio to check out how he makes his art glass marbles. I love glass almost as much as stone, so I jumped at the chance. Joe is about an hour and a half drive from me just south of St. Joe, MI. He took the time to show me all his equipment and glass, then got to work. I had never seen anyone make a marble before and Joe is a real pro. He made two marbles in a little over an hour. It was fascinating for me to see the process. He made two different kind of marbles and each had its own technique. The first one, an implosion, was basically made in halves. He blew a bubble in the glass tubing, decorated the outside, then melted it to collapse inside the bubble. He then added more glass to the outside, decorated that, and then completed the sphere. I am way over simplifying the process here, but that is basically how it was done. The second marble was done quite different and I dare not describe the process as I would probably describe it incorrectly. The marbles had to cool in a kiln for many hours after completion so I did not get to see the finished product that day. Afterwards, Joe took me a couple miles a way to an awesome beach on Lake Michigan where there were plenty of rocks. Check out all the pictures below and see Joe’s work. A week or so after our meet, Joe sent me the implosion marble! How cool is that. You can check out Joe’s marbles at his website here: madmanmarbles.com

I Sphere The Unknown

I found the rock I made this sphere from in Lake Michigan off the shore of Charlevoix, MI. It is one of my favorite spots to find Petoskey stones but that day I stumbled across this beauty. I haven’t seen one like this before, especially with the greens in it. So if you happen to know what it is made of, please drop me a note or leave a comment. Anyway, I hope you think it is cool as I think it is!

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Petoskey Stone Spheres

I have been extremely busy and haven’t had much time for sphering lately, but I did manage to grind out a trifecta of Petoskey stone spheres last week. The three rough stones were given to me by a new friend and fellow rockhound. He specializes in making stone cabinet knobs which are quite stunning using native Michigan Petoskey and Septarian stones. If he had a website, I would link to it, but alas, he does not. He gave me three Petoskey stones, I sphered them and he got first pick. They ranged in size from 1.65 inch to about 2.4 inches in diameter. I kept the remaining two (the smaller ones). They can be found for sale on my Etsy page by clicking here.

Petoskey Stone Spheres

Whoa!

I finally got around to making this sphere from the rock depicted in this previous post: http://spheremaker.com/the-most-beautiful-lake-michigan-stone-ever-found/

I was hesitant to make it because the rough rock was so killer looking and I didn’t and still don’t know what it is. I’ve had some knowledgable folks chime in that it may be basalt, chert, calcite, carnelian, and/or garnet. I imagine its tough to identify from pictures alone. It was harder than I thought it would be, but not as hard as say an agate. The crystals fractured like they do when I would sphere a quartz based rock, which I find many in Michigan. I was hoping it would be crystal in the center but it was not. The sphering process ground off a lot of crystal, but I still think it turned out nice. Interesting thing, it had a lot of little slivers of metal within it. Pyrite maybe? Silver? Who knows. One of my favorites I’ve done though. What do you think?

Trade Anyone?

I have way too much stone for me to ever work on all of it. I would like to trade what I have for something I have never worked on before. For some reason, Copralite sounds like the shit and I’d like to make a sphere out of it for the novelty. So if you have some Copralite or something else crazy, beautiful or just plain unordinary, I’d love to trade if you see something you’d like to have in the pictures.

What I have. I have a ton of Michigan slag in blue, green, grey, and black and anything in between. I have an abundance of Florida agatized coral, including rocks, chunks, chips and display type specimens. A couple of them are geodes. I have a ton of Lake Michigan beach rock including about every color and kind imaginable and cut scraps from spheres I have made (great for tumbling, crafts, etc). I have a 5 gallon bucket of Petoskey stones. A couple nice pieces of Picasso Marble enough for many many cabs. Some small to medium sized carnelian from Washington state. Quite a few Michigan Septarians (clay rock/calcite).

If you see something you’d like feel free to contact me. I’m mainly looking for small to medium rocks large enough to make a sphere or marble in the 1.5 – 4 inch range. I don’t have a large saw so I can’t really handle much bigger than that for now. If an item gets traded, I’ll take down the photo.

***update 3-28-12***: Petoskeys, Septarians, and Picasso Marble are gone. I’ll have more Petoskeys and Septarians by summers end!

The Most Beautiful Lake Michigan Stone Ever Found!

It was an incredible hot March day of 83 degrees today. I took my daughter to Van Buren State Park on Lake Michigan today to walk up and down the beach. The landscape had changed a bit since last fall and a lot of new rocks had washed up on shore in new spots. Much closer to the main entrance this year. I did not have to go far to find the first Petoskey of the season. We stayed about an hour or so and the last rock I found was by wading in about two feet of water. I thought it was one of the many bricks in the water at first until I picked it up. It was the bright orange color that caught my eye. I have never seen anything remotely looking like this rock before. I think it is amazing and would really like to know what it is. The orange color of the crystals are stunning. It doesn’t appear to be an agate material at all more of a quartz I would guess. Please drop a comment or send me an email if you know what it is! I believe it to be the most beautiful Lake Michigan Stone ever found! (by me at least… :) )

***UPDATE***
3-28-12: The sphere of this stone is done. Check out the new pics here: http://spheremaker.com/whoa/