Thursday, 3 pm
A chance encounter with Silvio on the sidewalk, in front of the studio. He was returning from a walk to stretch his back. “I cut a stone!” he announces. “I cut a first stone on the lapidary. It is so smooth, and not as loud as I expected.” He smiles.
Up until now, stones were sent off to be cut. This meant spending a bit more and also the possibility of unexpected delays if someone had ordered a time-sensitive piece, such as a gift for a special occasion, for example. Silvio had been looking forward to getting his own lapidary.
“I can’t cut facets with this,” he explains. “What I can do is cut and polish wild stones for custom pieces. I can make cabochons. Most of all, I can now make custom pieces with our local Vermont Serpentine.” He is quite excited about this, of course.
Earlier today, after working on a new gold ring for several hours, Silvio took a moment to further explain how the new machine works. Everything is contained. All particles and dust are directed away from the surrounding area so they will not end up in the air. The chamber under the blade contains a special oil and water solution that keeps the blade lubricated and the guard above the blade pushes debris down. Running water falls over the polishing wheels, constantly rinsing all particles down into a collection tray and special container as long as the wheels are in use. It will be a very clean operation.
“I have been looking forward to getting this, ever since I found a first Serpentine,” observes Silvio. “So many people bring me stones they have found and would like cut and used in a custom piece. Now I can do the entire process right here. It will take a bit of practice. It has been quite a few years since I’ve used this equipment!” he smiles again. Boy with a new toy. Who could blame him. The artist sees infinite possibilities.
“I can’t wait to try it with some of these stones,” he adds, as he lays out large rocks to take a picture, including an ancient stone tool he brought over from New Mexico (top). “I am curious to see what patterns I will find when I cut through. These will make great pieces.” There is no doubt that they will. Each and every stone will inspire a unique piece: rings, pendants, bracelets, even earrings.
Diamonds and gems make splendid, elegant jewelry. They are usually rich with history and make precious heirlooms. Wild stones have a richness and elegance of their own and they have something unique that is uncommon to most gems. We are rarely the first person to set our eyes and hands on a gem. Our experience with stones is often different. We stumble upon them in the here and now. They offer a pause, a landmark. Much of their significance lies in that one instant, as if the stone itself had recorded the moment for us to remember where we stood, who was there, our love for them or for the place and time. This, perhaps, is why we so vividly respond to their natural beauty.