Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Do you want to cook it or cut it?

      I admit that when I first saw this slab in Quartzsite, my first impression was that a strip of nice, fatty Wygyu beef had gotten lost. (If you haven't already noticed, I often "see" food in rocks which has led to some very interesting projects).

     When I picked it up, it was obviously solid, but it didn't feel like a jasper, it felt smooth and if you will, creamy.It turned out to be Alunite--a mineral I'd never heard of. It is mined and processed to become potash alum which is then used as an astringent medically and and some food preservation including pickles--and, of course, it's used in lapidary!

Heart on Fire
     As I pushed aside the thoughts of yummy beef, I noticed that the red markings could also be taken as an image of fire. In January, I'm always looking for something to carve into a heart shape. My Contra Costa Mineral & Gem Society has contests where the members vote on cabochons. The Shape of the Month for February is always a heart.

     It  occurred to me that  there might be a Heart on Fire hiding in the slab. So after I got home from Quartzsite, I got to work.

     Alunite, it turns out, is pretty soft, only about 3.5-4 on the Mohs scale, so it quickly became apparent that I'd have to be very careful not to gouge it. However,
I found the softness to be a benefit while I was working the bumps at the top of the heart. Also, because of its soft nature, it took more of a luster than a shine. It will reflect bright light a bit, but even polishing it with a 50,000 grit wheel, it never became truly shiny.

     When I finished, it looked to me like it could be a Heart on Fire, but it could also be a Bleeding Heart. Figuring no one would vote for a Bleeding Heart at Valentine's Day, I submitted it as Heart on Fire.

Even though it was a relatively small slab, I was also able to get the pillow-top and egg-shaped cabochons out of this stone. I'd like to use the pillow-shaped one for a ring, because it is fascinating to look at the random pattern. It's easily my favorite of the three cabs I was able to make from this slab.


      I don't even remember where I found this colorful slab, but I love it.  It has so many stories hidden in it.
      I played with an edge on my Genie and found it somewhere between jasper and agate in terms of working it as a stone.
     My first thought was some sort of petrified wood, but yet . . .
     Do you have any sense of what it is?  I'd love to know what you think.  Best guesses will be published in a future LapidaryWhisperer.

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     Check back on March 29 for more musings by your Lapidary Whisperer. Since it's spring, think pink!

See you next time, your Lapidary Whisperer,

Donna Albrecht



1 comment:

  1. I think the egg shape is my favorite of the ones here because I like the way the white parts look like they're flowing, like drops rolling down the surface.

    The pillowtop is also beautiful, as is the "Heart on Fire," which also has that flowing-liquid look. VERY neat to see the original piece they all came from which, as you said, does look like a piece of meat or, at least, meat jerky.