Courses available at the Cape Town Gem and Mineral club:
Silversmithing: This course will teach you the basics of working with silver, the first item you learn to make is a ring. See the calendar for course dates. Contact the club for more information about starting the course.
Workshop course: This course will teach you the basics of grinding,
slabbing, flatlapping and polishing mineral specimens. The first item you will
learn to make is a cabochon. If needed the first piece of cutting rough for you
to learn on will be provided. Contact the club for more information about
starting the course.
Faceting course: This course will teach you the basics of
faceting stones. The first stone you will learn to cut is a 25 facet brilliant
in quartz. Those who have completed this course can then use the faceting
machines in our workshop. Contact the club for more information about the next
Specialty courses: These are offered from time to time on a variety
of differing subjects, the one the club has running at the moment is mineralogy
for gem cutters and jewelers. Contact the club for upcoming courses in this category.
up faceting is perfectly natural. The
late Tony Garman said he gave it up regularly - about once a month. It was good for his technique. I give it up more frequently, sometimes more
than once a day, but usually in the early evening when I have been faceting
successfully all day long and then find myself making mistakes, like setting
the wrong index, or the stone starts scratching all by itself for no
perceivable reason. Others give it up
only once, permanently.
Giving up faceting is perfectly natural. The late Tony Garman said he gave it up regularly - about once a month. It was good for his technique. I give it up more frequently, sometimes more than once a day, but usually in the early evening when I have been faceting successfully all day long and then find myself making mistakes, like setting the wrong index, or the stone starts scratching all by itself for no perceivable reason. Others give it up only once, permanently.
There are various reasons for giving up faceting, some remediable, others not. Those who give up permanently usually do so after cutting their first stone. They realise they lack the patience to grind and polish little flat faces on broken fragments of crystal, and sensibly avoid becoming permanently infected. Those of us who are permanently infected need help, and particularly when despair threatens. Giving up faceting for the night when you are tired works wonders. The next day your indexing problems and scratches often just vanish. Giving up because you just can’t get it right needs more energetic remedies. Here you actually have to do something active to seek help, not just sleep on it.
Fortunately, these days there is plenty of help at hand. When I first learned faceting all there was as a source of advice was Vargas’s “Faceting for Amateurs”, and I had read it through often enough to know much of it by heart. The one professional faceter I consulted about a tourmaline polishing problem simply said “If it takes more than three seconds to polish a tourmaline facet you are doing it wrong”. Fat help. But nowadays we have the internet, and it has transformed faceting. Anyone interested in faceting should join the United States Faceters Guild Faceters List on Yahoo <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/usfgfaceterslist/>. This is your entry to a world of online information and advice. Then you should download a copy of Faceters Companion <http://www.rockhounds.com/oplc/> and read everything in it.
Faceting despair usually is caused by a relatively short list of problems, which have a long list of possible solutions. Here are some shortcuts to solutions, which have worked for me (they may not work for you though – that is the perverse beauty of this individualistic art).
Dopping involves gluing a piece of stone onto a metal rod. This is done using either wax or glue, or a combination of both. The combination method is gaining popularity and is described in detail by Tom Herbst <http://www.boghome.com/TomsPages/How_I_Dop/How_I_Dop.html>. He uses five minute epoxy, but I use cyano-acrylate (super glue) to attach the stone to a wax self-mould. Sounds complicated, but it’s easy.
An erroneous faceting diagram can drive one to terminal despair. Remedy - pre-cut unfamiliar designs in GemCad by Robert Strickland. A free DOS based version is downloadable from <http://www.gemcad.com/>. Download all the free stuff from this site and then go back to Tom Herbst’s site to download BOG. Armed with these programs you can ‘cut’ a stone on your computer to test the design, and then optimise its angles for best appearance. Learning these programs will keep you busy for weeks. You may even give up real hard rock faceting for a while because playing with these programs is so captivating.
Polishing problems probably cause the most desertions from faceting. They certainly prompt the most discussion on the USFG Faceters List. The solutions are numerous and depend on the nature of the polishing problem. There is no readily available scientific background to the polishing of gem materials, and all the advice is anecdotal, i.e. what works for the particular writer. There is no alternative but to experiment for yourself, which in itself can be bewildering. The options are numerous, but all involve either oxide or diamond polishing media, on plastic or metal laps. The USFG Faceters List site is searchable, and you can read numerous individual polishing recommendations there. There seems to be a general consensus (with exceptions of course) that cerium oxide on one of numerous plastic laps is good for quartz; aluminium oxide on metal laps, usually of some tin alloy, is good for most other things; and diamond on metal laps is resorted to for particularly hard or difficult materials. The most fashionable polishing medium/lap combinations, and lots of polishing tips, are available from Gearloose Lapidary <http://www.gearloose.com/index.html>.
All machines need cleaning, servicing and sometimes repair. Faceting machines often need their alignment to be checked and adjusted, particularly as they age. If your machine is out of alignment it can make it impossible to produce symmetrical stones, and it will be very much more difficult to get your meets to meet. And apart from a good polish, symmetry and meeting meets are the meat of faceting. You really need to get to know your faceting machine, its quirks and inaccuracies, so that you can either fix them or compensate for them. In order to do this, you need to understand faceting machine alignment. Paul Head has written a short but comprehensive guide to checking the alignment of your faceting machine <http://www.rockhounds.com/oplc/cd_online/faceting_articles/paul_head/alignment.html>. Without working your way patiently through this procedure, no matter how daunting you might find it at first, you simply won’t understand the functioning of your machine.
There you have it – remedies for all your faceting ills are literally at your fingertips, so there is no excuse for giving up faceting through despair; unless of course you realise at the outset that you really lack the patience to complete more than one stone. Duncan Miller