By Ted Grussing
… one of the finest opals I have ever seen look like? I took some photos of it today and also got about five hours work in on it and I’m very pleased the way it is coming along. I’ve had a number of requests to see the stone and its progress as I work it, and it seems like a good idea to me too, so here goes … The opal is from the Bonanza Mine in the Virgin Valley area of Nevada. It is about 30 miles southwest of Denio in Humboldt County. Here is a link for the mines: https://www.virginvalleyopalmines.com/ .
The opal originally came in a glass dome, rubber stopper in the bottom. Water domes got pretty scuzzy in a short time so for a while the mine rep was putting silicon oil in the domes with specimens of high quality such as this one. The problem that developed was that after a few years and sometimes sooner the oil would take on a yellow cast and to the extent that the oil penetrated the opal, it imparted a yellow color to it too. That happened to this specimen too and as I said previously I took this out about twenty years ago and it has been dry ever since.
If you do own opal, do not oil it as it can destroy the beauty of the stone and if you do it to a black opal it can turn a light grey color … I bought such a stone one time and paid a fair price for what it appeared to be. I had a feeling that the stone had been oiled so when I got home I put it to the wheels and sure enough it had been oiled and about half a millimeter under the surface the opal was jet black and the play of color was electric … needless to say I did very well with that stone and it was over 20 carats and a perfect oval. If you want to be kind to your opals give them a drink of water once in a while as they are a naturally hydrated stone.
The first image is a shot of the opal as it has been for the past thirty plus years I have owned it and hundreds of thousands of years before humans removed it from the earth. The yellowish skin in the photo is a result of the immersion in the silicon oil after it turned color. You can see the play of color burning through beneath the skin.
The second image is a side view after I rubbed it a bit to see what was beneath the skin and it is beautiful solid color. Some gem cutters call it facing the stone, but traditionally it is rubbing the stone … this is accomplished with a diamond grit wheel or in this case diamond grit burrs with my Foredom flex shaft. This opal will be treated and worked like a carving with little or no time on the wheel. There are numerous fractures in the piece, but I think that by doing all the work dry it will hang in there and remain a solid piece. After spending the day working on it with the diamond burrs I am certain that it will work … the larger grit burrs create the most shock to the stone and I only lost a small piece off of it today.
The third image is a shot with me holding it after going over the entire stone with 260 grit diamond … I spritzed it with water to show you what it will look like polished … actually it will be better than this. At this moment in time the piece weighs 38.2 grams and is approximately 35mm x 31mm by 37mm. I think it will finish at about 32 grams and will make an incredible specimen for display or possibly a mind blowing pendant.
Time to wrap the day and for me the week. Have a great weekend and I’ll be back Monday morning.
At nightfall…though I know I shall sometime no more
Open my eyes to the light or day, I am one who looks at stars when
Unchained from the work-bench at Nightfall.
They are a sign that I am not ephemeral,
Not you, nor you, whoever you are.
The dawn comes and the dark and the sign sparkling in the brooding night,
Forever and forever.
— Max Ehrmann
The easiest way to reach Mr. Grussing is by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to sales of photographs already taken Ted does special shoots for patrons on request and also does air-to-air photography for those who want photographs of their airplanes in flight. All special photographic sessions are billed on an hourly basis.
Ted also does one-on-one workshops for those interested in learning the techniques he uses. By special arrangement Ted will do one-on-one aerial photography workshops which will include actual photo sessions in the air.
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