Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Opal cutting is both a skill and an art

Today's invitation to see John at work in his backyard was one we took up eagerly.

Every slab of stone was examined first to decide on the best angle to cut. But it was a bit of a guessing game nevertheless. Some promising seams turned out to be disappointing, others revealed opal with huge potential.

There are about six piles and boxes of stones surrounding John's diamond saw cutter. The first is stone to be cut; the others are grades of stone onto which the cut pieces are thrown -- pieces to sell on to various other people in the trade.

Working with protective glasses, breathing mask and apron, and with a fine spray of water drifting over him (to keep the saw cool and the dust down), John showed us just a little of the work he does every day, as an opal cutter.

Indoors, John has a series of polishing wheels to finish off the most promising stones. John is a man with a passion for boulder opals, especially those with wood seams.

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