Since my sphere machine had been broken for months, I decided to grind out a few Michigan Blue Slag pendants to knock the rust off my bones. These are the results! One of them is available in my Esty shop if interested. The green one is from Escanaba, MI in the upper peninsula, the other three are from South Haven, MI in the lower south western part of Michigan.
I braved a winter storm a couple days ago and drove from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Bancroft, Michigan some 90 miles away to attend an Estate sale. It was near white out conditions in spots but I got there in one piece. And man, was I glad I did. The gentleman who had passed away was an avid rock hound and had a basement, garage and outbuilding full of various rocks, gems, glass, and machinery. I would have loved to have known that man as I’m sure he could have taught me a lot and had some great tales of adventure to share. I got some great deals and would have bought more but one guy in particular (probly some sort of ebay re-seller) picked up damn near everything he could get his mitts on. Luckily I was able to grab a few prizes for myself. The only bummer of the morning was I missed out on some huge Petoskey stones as I mistakenly believed they would take credit cards and had to run to the bank for some quick cash. Anyway, as always, I’ve included plenty of pictures of my purchases. I paid $124 for all the rocks and some small pieces of glass cullet. The rest of the glass in the pictures came from another source recently and I paid another $120 for those (including shipping). If you know what some of the proper names of the rocks are pictured below that I don’t have properly labeled feel free to comment or drop me a private message.
Stay tuned as I’ll be cutting these up soon and be making some spheres and things!
Here are some pictures of the few spheres I’ve made with slag. Up until about a month ago I was only able to find one piece of slag large enough to make a sphere. Since that time, I’ve found a couple decent pieces. The dark green chunk was the largest. It probly weighed about 7 pounds or so. The dark green is no the prettiest, but I have since found chunks much larger in that color range. The deep blues have been elusive in that size, but the Robin’s egg color one turned out great (at 1.8 inches) as well at the grey/green one (At 1.8 inches).
We had some unusually warm and sunny weather the last couple days so I decided to take my crew out (my three kids: ages 6-10) to dig for some blue slag glass. Now, in the past I’ve found a ton of blue slag glass washed up on the shores of Lake Michigan. But I got a tip from a new friend on a spot where they used to dump slag over a hundred years ago in Muskegon, MI. For those who don’t know what slag is. Slag glass is the by-product of the iron ore smelting process. In Michigan the smelting was done all up and down the Lake Michigan lake shore and often the slag, considered garbage at the time was dumped into the lake. That all ended around 1890 or so. Today, this slag glass is prized by beachcombers because of the often beautiful colors and variations found. I have found slag that is black, brown, grey, green, yellow, blue and any of those shades in between. I’ve only found one piece large enough to sphere in the past, and have made quite a few nice pendants out of the glass I’ve found.
We made our way to the spot and as soon as we stepped out of the car, we began to see small pieces of the deep forest green slag. We found quite a few large pieces, probly in the 10-30 pound range buried just below the surface. We found one spot in particular and began to dig with much success. Some of the best pieces were found about a foot down. Once we established a good spot we dug around about a six foot radius and found quite a number of stunning pieces. I took some pictures of some of the better looking ones and even took a bunch of macro shots (made by taking a lense from a disposable camera and putting it over my camera’s lense). I think the shots came out decent enough. One day I’ll invest in a nice camera setup so I can take some real professional looking shots. I think some of those macro shots would make some nice abstract art. Oh, and after we got home…it snowed like crazy! I guess we will wait til next year to hit it again. What a great time.