I had acquired a bunch of recycled glass rock, some call by the made up name “Andara crystal” from an estate sale not too long ago. I wanted to do something with them and didn’t know what, until I walked by a demo display of a high gloss resin in Lowes. They had a display of this resin that had been poured over rocks to make a step. It is strong stuff and is commonly used for bar countertops. I had an idea to use the resin to glue these glass rocks together, and then put it through the sphering process, much like I do with my rocks. I had a 4 inch rubber mold that I used for my first one, then I made a larger mold out of a 6 x 6 inch cardboard box. It was a lot more work than I had expected, but they ended up pretty good. I had to soak them in alcohol to get some of the cerium oxide polish out of the cracks and pits which is just the nature of this material. I will probably make more of these in the future. The orange one was made with common glass beans you can buy at many common stores.
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 am alive still. For those people who follow my blog (thanks, Mom), I just wanted to say after a long hiatus, that I plan to update this thing regularly once again. I took some time off, and my sphere machine broke. I put a bandaid on it for the time being, but I need to replace a motor. I plan on getting another machine going soon also. So stay tuned for more spheremaking on the way! In the meantime, I recently purchased a 3 in 1 lens kit for my iphone 4. I paid $15 but you can get it for under $10 at the moment here: http://www.amazon.com/180%C2%B0-Angle-Macro-Apple-iPhone/dp/B009UQR32I/ref=pd_sim_cps_5 It’s a knock off brand, but is quite great for the money. I took some shots of some cullet glass I had and thought I would share the results.
In addition to stone, I really love the look of glass. Its amazing material and can look incredibly beautiful as a sphere. I collect as much of it as I can get and recently purchased over 100 pounds of recycled glass (cullet, slag) chunks (mostly blue and green colored ones but some purple and reds as well) at a great price. As beautiful as it is, it can be difficult to work. I should probably wear gloves when working with it because I always end up slicing a finger tip or something. I had actually made it through the entire process with no injuries on this one…until clean up. Then, I sliced the tip of my finger on a chunk of scrap. No guitar playing for a week or so. But it was worth it. I love how this sphere turned out. The hardest part after cutting it for me is the final polish to remove scratches. I use my custom made leather cups with cerium oxide polish. After running it wet, I let it dry out some and heat up a bit to seal up any scratches. So theres my secret. And here are the pics:
My next stickers: “Shiniest Balls Online”
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.
I took some time off from work to work on some of my music side projects and an iphone app I’ve been working on. But I couldn’t help but make some time to grind out some stone work! I got a request to make some custom pendants from a couple folks from work which is always nice to hear. Of course while I’m making the pendants I had to tend to a few spheres as well to make the best use of my time. The pictures are below. I was really shocked by how the Chrysocolla sphere turned out. I have never worked with this material before and from the outer appearance of the rock it appeared to be mostly black…until I cut into it. I’ll attach the original picture of the black chrysocolla rock as well. I could use some help on getting the crosses to turn out better. I do everything on the wheel. If anyone out there has any suggestions to help me get better drop me an email from the contact section. I’m all ears!
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.