Thursday, August 30, 2018

rock tumbling for beginners

While I know a lot of you come here for art and creative inspiration, I have a some hobbies behind the scenes that I thought might be fun to share with you once in a while! One of my all time favorite hobbies is "rockhounding". Rockhounding is hunting for minerals, rocks, semi-precious gems, petrified wood and fossils. Living on the Oregon Coast, there are all kinds of places to go where there are exposed beds of agates and stones and I will spend HOURS crawling around on the beach looking for jasper, moonstones and agates.

While my favorite part of the process is the hunt, this summer I've really enjoyed my rock tumbler! A tumbler makes it possible to smooth and polish those rocks over time. We have a the Lortone Model 3A rock tumbler and a rock tumbler grit kit

After I've spent time hunting for rocks, I spend just as much time sorting and trying to identity a lot of those rocks. 
This is actually one of Lucy's favorite things to do! We try to sort everything either by color or by the type of rock. 

Then we select a mixture of of different sizes of rocks that will get tumbled.

Next we fill the tumbling barrel about half way full.

The next step is to add a coarse grit and water to the tumbling barrel.

Grit is silicone carbide abrasive that is added to the tumbling process. The rocks roll around in the tumbler in the grit and water and over time, the grit shapes, smooths and polishes the rocks. 

There are four stages of grit-
Course grit which does the rough shaping of the rock 
Medium grit removes scratches and produces a smooth surface 
Pre-polish smooths the rock even more 
Polish shines those rocks 
 Rock shops typically sell all four levels of grit.

We tumbled the first grit for about a week or so. The result was rocks that were quite a bit smoother.

After the first tumble is finished, it is really important empty the barrel, wash the rocks and the barrel and then start the next stage.

The tumbled three more times for about one week with each grit and it ends up REALLY smoothing those rocks! But they are not yet polished.

The last stage (4th stage) is to tumble those rocks with the polish- aluminum oxide for another week. 

The result is AMAZING! Beautiful smooth and shiny rocks!!

The entire rock tumbling process takes about 4 weeks and it is SO hard to wait during that time! But the end result is so worth it.


Christina said...

These stones are truly beautiful - both in the before and after stages, in a different way though. I imagine that the anticipation of that inner brilliance that comes through the initially opaque surface renders further magical quality to the entire process. Thank you for sharing your rock tumbling experience!

micaela said...

Love it :D , where i live we dont have that kind of rocks , its a vulcanic island, but i do love to go to the beach to hunt for different rocks and shells.

Terri Paulson-Sasaki said...

Wow!!! I'm always disappointed when I bring some rocks home from the beach because they don't keep their pretty shiny look. I will have to try this.

Fifi said...

So beautiful

Anonymous said...

My son has gotten into rock hounding and we are considering getting a tumbler. How loud is this tumbler and where in your house have you put it? We don't have a garage and so I'm wondering about the noise level having it going for so long in the house. Your rocks turned out beautiful!!

jobi said...

Wow, such a great activity! Love rocks.


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