I’ve been planning to carve more Aussie icons for a long time but following my acquisition of some lovely Cowell from the mine on the Eyre Peninsula in February, and my desire to increase the local market for nephrite to help both Aussie carvers including myself, and the mine’s owners, I had a strong reason to finally do something about it. Enter my kangaroos.
I began by drawing a 'roo on paper and cutting it out as a stencil. I marked the chosen piece of stone with the outline with a spirit marker.
I then cut out the small block of Cowell, marked the outline on both front and back faces and trimmed it to the outline as close as I dared with power tools. At some point I became fed-up with having to re-ink the outline and decided to use paint instead. This conveniently helped to preserve the stencil as well as being much easier to see when the stone was wet – I used white paint.
Then it was down to diamond files to make sure the edges were square between the front and back faces and not rounded. It’s good to use a file card to clean out the rock flour from between the diamonds because it grinds more quickly. Once I had the shape I wanted, I used the trim-saw blade to slit the block into two thin ‘roos and a thicker one (the block wasn’t quite thick enough for four thin ones unfortunately).
I sanded down the flat faces on my laps with 120 grit and going through 240 to 600. I cleaned up the edges with diamond files at 100 and 240, and then used grinding sticks for 600 and 1000. On tight corners I used the Emery paper as discussed in last month’s blog and Wet & Dry as well. I cleaned up the faces with 1000 grit paper on a lap and then continued with 6000 grinding sticks and 50,000 grit diamond polishing paste on my leather polishing wheel.
They took longer than I expected I admit, but hey, we live and learn don’t we?
How to mount them, I pondered? The thick piece deserved a good cord and I drilled two intersecting holes in the top of the stone to give a wide and stable mounting so it doesn’t swing around too much. The thinner kangaroos I decided would be brooches, and needed a strong pin mounted in the back as they are quite heavy. I thought about using sterling silver wire, but found it was either too thin and flexible, or too thick and would damage the clothing the brooch was attached to. So I thought, go simple, and used a 33 mm long safety pin, mounted in an epoxy glue-filled slot cut in the back face of the piece.
So there is one idea for you. There are many other Aussie icons suitable for turning into pendants, brooches, earrings and so on. And don’t our Aussie customers deserve to wear something Australian? Start your engines, carvers!!
On this page I intend to add monthly updates on aspects of jade carving. I also plan to invite more experienced carvers to offer a "master-class" on a particular subject of their choice. With this I hope to enthuse both the novice and the expert in this ancient and beautiful art-form/craft. And comments are welcome!