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how to create custom mineral stands
a feature article
For some time I’d had a problem. A problem which became greater as my mineral collection grew. A problem with which, I suspect, other readers may be familiar; how best to display specimens in the limited space available. Often their centres of gravity are such that without additional support they cannot be seen to best advantage.
Whilst there are available clear polystyrene props and supports (adjustable or not), I find these intrusive, visually unaesthetic and usually a poor compromise. The more specimens that need support, the worse becomes the problem, until the collection becomes a forest of polystyrene props interspersed with specimens -perhaps a classic case of not being able to see the wood for the trees! I needed to find a solution. So, what to do?
Recently when my grandsons were visiting, we were using oven -hardening polymer clay (Sculpey) to make dice. Whilst doing this, it occurred to me that this could provide a solution.
Indeed, it might be an ideal material from which to make unobtrusive custom stands or supports for some of my collection.
I started by forming a few simple blanks into which I could impress specimens. The initial colour, size and shape of the blanks were determined by the pieces to be supported; some were cuboids, others discs, tablets or cheese -wedges. A couple of experiments revealed that by first placing a piece of standard kitchen Clingfilm over the blank, a clean release was obtained without the risk of ‘pull-out’ or surface contamination of the specimen. This could be a concern with delicate or friable surfaces, such as may be found with some fossils for example.
Remember to remove the clingfilm from the surface of the polymer clay before curing it in the oven.
Clingfilm is both thin and sufficiently compliant to allow excellent reproduction by the polymer clay of surface detail. This ensures accurate mating between support and specimen which, when the support is cured, results in a stable and inconspicuously supported display piece. The accompanying images show examples of various specimens and their supports, as fabricated by the author (the supports, not the specimens!)
Polymer clay, under various brand names such as ‘Fimo’ or ‘Sculpey’, is available in a wide range of fully mixable colours, enabling intermediate colours or marbled effects to be produced. The exposed surface can also be textured in a manner sympathetic with the specimen being supported (best done with the specimen in place, to avoid distortion).
Of course, how far you wish to employ such techniques depends on how closely you wish to mimic the appearance of the specimen. I would, however, stop short of decorating the surface with the likes of fine mica flakes, sand grains etc. as they may not adhere sufficiently well to the material when cured. Particularly large or heavy specimens may require three -point support.
Polymer clay generally requires a curing temperature of about 130° Celsius in a domestic oven (not a microwave), at a time of 15 minutes per 6mm (1/4 inch) of thickness.
Full instructions are supplied and, of course, there is plenty of information available online.
So, if you have a similar problem, why not give it a go? I’m sure you will enjoy it and be pleased with the results.
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By John Betterton
The metal indium, In, is a very rare element with an average crustal abundance of about 0.1 ppm. World production stands at around 600 tonnes per year with China, Canada, Japan and South Korea the main producers
The metal indium, In, is a very rare element with an average crustal abundance of about 0.1 ppm. World production stands at around 600 tonnes per year with China, Canada, Japan and South Korea the main producers.
In is mainly derived from zinc production and much is recycled. Despite its rarity it has numerous uses in the semi-conductor industries, such as in solar panels and flatscreen LCD’s, various semiconductors, LED’s Laser diodes, specialised solders, in alkaline batteries, various alloys including low melting alloys in fire-sprinkler systems, nuclear reactors, some types of medical imaging equipment, radiotracers, ball bearings in racing cars and as a light filter in sodium vapour lamps etc. The currently limited number of indium-bearing minerals is mostly concentrated within the sulphide class with a few others scattered in other classes. Most of the indium-bearings minerals known are described in this article.
Indium, In, occurs as small massive grains up to about 1 mm in size and crystallises in the tetragonal system. The mineral is grey colour with a yellowish tint. It is opaque with a metallic lustre and possesses a hardness of 3. Other physical properties are unknown and chemical analysis is best for certain identification. Indium is found in greisenized and albitized granite associated with silver. Several locations are known for this uncommon species and include the Orlovskoye Ta Deposit and the Sukhoi Log deposit, Lena Gold District, both in the Eastern-Siberian District, Russia; at the Perzhanskoe ore field, Zhytomyr Oblask, Ukraine; and in the Arashan Massif, Arashan Mts, Angren Region, Uzbekistan.
Indite, FeIn2S4, is found as massive grains and crystallises in the cubic system. It is iron-black in colour with a metallic lustre. The hardness is 5 and the calculated specific gravity is 4.5. Chemistry and x-rays are used for characterisation. It occurs in primary hydrothermal veins replacing cassiterite with dzhalindite. The mineral is known from only two locations in Russia. They are the Dzhalinda Sn Deposit, Khabarovskiy Kray, and the Verkhnee Tin Deposit, Primorskiy Kray, both in the Far-Eastern Region of the country.
Damiaoite, PtIn2, is white in colour with a metallic lustre. A polycrystalline globular habit and exsolved intergrowths is the noted form for this uncommon species. It has a black streak with a hardness of 5. The calculated specific gravity is very high at 10.9. Chemistry and limited distribution help is identification. This uncommon mineral is found with chalcopyrite, cooperite and yixunite etc in Pt veins in a garnet-amphibole pyroxinite. The sole occurrence is the PGE occurrence in Damiao village, Chengde County, Hebei Province, China.
Yixunite, Pt3In, rarely occurs as polycrystalline globules up to about 2 mm in size. It possesses a bright white colour with a metallic lustre. The mineral is opaque and the hardness is 6. Its calculated specific gravity is extremely high at 18.2. Chemistry, physical properties and x-rays are requited tests. It is found as an intergrowth with damiaoite in Pt veins in a garnet-amphibole pyroxinite. The single locality is the PGE occurrence in Damiao village, Chengde County, Hebei Province, China. Roquesite, CuInS2, occurs in high-temperature Sn-W-Bi-Mo hydrothermal veins in highly metamorphic rocks and as a later-stage mineral in skarns associated with chalcopyrite, wittichenite, chalcocite, covellite, bornite, sphalerite, tetrahedrite, lollingite, arsenopyrite and bismuth. It is found as tiny inclusions and is grey in polished section. Polysynthetic twinning is present and crystallises in the tetragonal system. This mineral has a metallic lustre and its hardness is 3.5 to 4. Other physical properties are not known. X-ray and chemical methods are required here. Specimens have been obtained from various widespread locations in France, England, Sweden, Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, Japan, South Korea, India, Canada, Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil etc.
Sakuraiite, (Cu,Zn,Fe)3(In,Sn)S4, is a greenish steel-grey colour with a lead-grey streak and a olive tint. It possesses a metallic lustre and its hardness is 4. The calculated specific gravity is 4.4. Sakuraiite is cubic and forms exsolution textures in the mm size range. X-rays and chemical tests are needed to distinguish this species from others. The mineral occurs in banded hydrothermal vein deposits accompanied by stannite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, cassiterite, matildite, arsenopyrite, quartz and calcite. This occasional sulphide is known from four separate sites. They are the Ikuno mine, Hygo Prefecture, Honshu Island and the Toyoha mine, Hokkaido, Japan; the San Roque deposit, Rio Negro and the Pirquitas Ag-Sn deposit, Rinconada Dept, Jujuy, Argentina.
Cadmoindite, CdIn2S4, is a cubic mineral that is found as nice octahedral crystals with an adamantine lustre. The colour is dark brown to black and is translucent in character with a brown streak. It is brittle and the specific gravity is calculated at 4.8. Chemistry, x-rays and mode of occurrence are helpful. Cadmoindite is found around high-temperature fumarole vents in association with pyrite, wurzite, rheniite and greenockite. Know locations for small specimens are the Kudriavy volcano, Iturup Isle, Kurily Islands, Far Eastern Region, Russia; and at the Katerina coal mine, Trutnov, Bohemia, Czech Republic.
Laforetite, AgInS4, is found as a tiny inclusions in galena with sphalerite, barite quartz, various carbonates, hocartite and pyrargyrite from a hydrothermal ore vein system. This mineral possesses polysynthetic twining and crystallises in the tetragonal system. It is brownish grey with abundant red inclusions in reflected light and is opaque. The hardness is around 3 and the calculated high specific gravity 4.9. Chemistry and x-rays are needed here. Samples have been acquired from the Montgros mine, La Boriette, Haute-Loire, France; and the Toyoha mine, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.
Abramovite, Pb2SnInBiS7, is a silvery black mineral that is metallic and opaque with a black streak. It has a perfect cleavage. Other physical data is lacking. It occurs as lamellar crystals with striated slightly parallel to its elongation. Abramovite crystallises in the triclinic system. The mineral is best distinguished by x-ray and chemical methods along with its mode of occurrence. It is a product of precipitation from fumaroles associated with pyrrhotite, pyrite, wurzite, galena, halite, sylvite and anhydrite. This scarce species is known only from the Kupol fumarole field, Kudryavy volcano, Iturup Island, Southern Kurile Islands, Russia.
Dzhalindite, In(OH)3, occurs as a yellow-brown coloured mineral that is translucent. The habit is massive and crystallises in the cubic system. Few physical properties are known, but the specific gravity is 4.3. Dzhaldindite is probably a secondary mineral and found along fractures through various hydrothermal minerals in brecciated fesic volcanic rocks and in greisenized granite. Many minerals like indite, cassiterite, quartz, sphalerite, galena, chalcopyrite, roquesite, digenite, arsenopyrite and scorodite, accompany it. Chemistry and x-rays are used for certain identification. Samples come from various scattered locations in different countries such as Argentina, Brazil, China, Greece, Japan, Russia, USA and Uzbekistan.
Yanomamite, InAsO4·2H2O, forms small dipyramidal crystals belonging to the orthorhombic system up to about 0.2 mm in size. This rare but interesting species is pale green to yellow-green in colour with a vitreous lustre. It has a white streak and no cleavage.
The hardness is 3.5 to 4 and the calculated specific gravity is 3.8. Chemistry, occurrence and x-rays are useful hints. Yanomamite is a secondary mineral formed by replacing arsenopyrite in quartz-topaz greisen veins in granite with scorodite, sphalerite and cassiterite. The only currently known site for this mineral is the Mangebeira tin deposit, Passa e Fica, Goias, Brazil.
The minerals of carbon are to be described in the next article in this series.
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Lapis Lazuli, commonly known as lapis. It was much prized and reverred by the people of the world’s first civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley. Also, much prized by the ancient Greeks, Persian’s and Romans. In very ancient times it was known as Sapphire, a name now of course given to blue corundum.
The Royal Sumerian tombs at Ur, know in Southern Iraq contained over 6,000 artifacts of Lapis carved as animals urns, bowls, vases, inlayed into board games and as beads and seals. In ancient Egypt it was a symbol of royalty an connecteed to the gods and deities. It was carved into scarabs and amulets. It was powered and used used as eye shadow by Cleopatra and weathy Egyptian women. The finest quality was used in the death mask of Tutankhamun.
The source of this ancient lapis is the mines in what is now Badakshan in north East Afghanistan. These are the world’s oldest known commercial gemstone mines.
Other major deposits are found in Russia, Siberia, near Lake Baikal and in the Andes mountains in Chile. Though there is no doubt that Afghan mines are the most important and produce the finest quality. On passing through this area in 1272 Marco Polo wrote “there is a mountain in this region, where the finest Azure (Lapis Lazuli) in the world is found.
In Renaissance times Lapis Lazuli was ground into a powder to produde the pigment ultramarine. It was much used by the old masters such as Leonardo De Vinci, Rubens and Michelangelo. Example of ultramarine is in the cloak of the Madonna. In the early 1800’s synthetic ultra marine was first produced and natural ultramarine from lapis fell out of use. Though it is still used in the restoration work of the old masterpieces.
The present day situation in the Afghan Lapis mines has not changed too much. They are in a forbidding, isolated area of the Hindu Kush mountain range. The lapis is brought out by mules through the Hindu Kush mountains. The mines can only be accessed and worked in the summer months. The lapis deposits are in the Kokcha valley where the peaks rise to over 6000 metres.
British Army Lieutenant John Wood, surveying the area, on behalf of the East India Company later wrote “If you do not wish to die avoid the valley of Kokcha.” Peter Bancroft, who personally visited the mines, wrote in his classic book “Gems and crystal treasures” (published 1984) -”The route to the lapis mines in the Kokcha Valley, is long, tortuous and dangerous.
The lapis is mined on the steep sides of a long narrow defile. Only 200 metres wide and backed by jagged peaks that rise above 6000 metres. Sparsely populated and covered in snow for much of the year. The barren region is inhabited by wild hogs and wolves. The summer sun is scorching but the temparatures drop to below freezing at night.
With the Soviet intervention into Afghanistan in 1979 the center for the Lapis trade changed from Kabul to Peshawar as Kabul was under soviet control. The mines were in the hands of the mujahideen. Dealers said that buying lapis was a way of supporting the mujahideen freedom fighters cause. The lapis was brought down through Chitral to Peshawar (northern Pakistan) where it ends up in an Namak Mandi gem market. Peshawar has been the center of the lapis trade ever since.
Lapis Lazuli is a rock made of several minerals including lazurite, sodalite, hauyne, calcite and pyrite. The composition is variable. It is a sodium calcium aluminum silicate. It is debatable what the best colour of lapis is. Some people prefer a deep intense blue whilst others like a rich purple blue with a slight violet tinge with little or no pyrite.
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by ruby loveridge
...‘Who wears a Jasper, be life short or long, will meet all dangers brave and wise and strong.’
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‘Who wears a Jasper, be life short or long, Will meet all dangers brave and wise and strong.’
The name Jasper itself originated from the greek for ‘spotted or speckled one’, presumably due to the natural spotted, multicolored or striped appearance the stone typically holds. Common patterns within the Jasper include interesting vein like marbling, spots, varies of streaks and flaming. Usually, Jasper is considered to be a chalcedony; as it is a form of it, however some scientists class Jasper as a separate kind because of its distinctive structure. When highly polished, Jasper is used for many things, including vases, seals and snuff boxes.
Coming in a variety of colours, from red, being the most common, to yellow, brown, or green; though rare for a Jasper to be naturally blue, banding and other colour mixtures are not unusual when it comes to Jasper. With the many colours and patterns Jasper can show, it’s no wonder many trademark and commercial names for certain stones have been created, for example; ‘poppy Jasper’ is both known for its beautiful appearance and promising mystical properties.
It is believed that the stone holds the ability to inspire a more joyful and positive attitude within a person and is believed to give one a determined, driven and motivated mind-set, often awakening a creative energy within a person. ‘landscape (and/or) picture Jasper’, which is mostly famous for its capturing and alluring view, the name given to it for it’s obvious beauty within its appearance. Throughout time the stone has been believed to be strongly connected to the Earth and all its elements, otherwise known for being ‘rain bringers’ and nurturers. With all beliefs regarding healing properties connected to the stone, one theory is mentioned more than once; the belief that the stone acts as a talisman in which inspires the wearer to embrace their more intuitive side and is known for encouraging repressed emotions and thoughts to resurface, thus allowing the wearer to become in tune with their emotions after having rid themselves of all negative feelings they may have repressed, giving off a harmonic balance once the wearer has released all repressed emotions.
‘leopard Jasper’ is a lesser known, though still as equally beautiful, form of Jasper. It is thought that this stone in particular is supposedly meant to help one tap into their more inner-self to help them on the road of spiritual discovery and has the ability to help you channel and connect with your spirit animal, or in a different term, your spiritual animal totem. It is also said that the leopard Jasper in particular is believed to assist in self-healing, which could be helpful with those more intiutive readers out there. Other names are lizard stone jasper, bat cave jasper, bruneau jasper, orbicular jasper, ocean jasper, rose eye jasper, royal plume jasper, wonderstone, poly chrome jasper. Jasper is part of the very large Chalcedony Quartz mineral family, quartz being one of the most bountiful minerals, falling into a close second to the feldspars. Due to the very large amount of quartz minerals, it’s only natural that there are a number of varieties that are either similar or closely related. Similar to agate, jasper has numerous names and while it may be confusing, never fear, most are usually used only by the most avid collectors, fans and dealers. Though there are too many to name, there are a few infamous stones that are similar to Jasper, for example some of the most obvious would be; agate, onyx, golden quartz or one of my personal favourites, rose quartz.
Frequently found and mined in many places worldwide, Jasper is most commonly discovered in places such as Australia, Brazil, Egypt, India, Canada and the United States of America, particularly in states such as Arizona, Idaho, Texas and Arkansas. Alongside Heliotrope (moonstone), jasper is one of the traditional birthstones for March and is also believed to be the mystical birthstone of the month October. Jasper was a popular stone back in ancient times and is often referred to in Jewish, Egyptian and Greek literature and has been mentioned numerous times in the bible.
Jasper is known as the ‘supreme nurturer’ and is believed to be closely connected with Earth and its nature, in particular it was believed that once wearing the stone, it helped one feel more grounded and level-headed, which could be why the stone, for many other reasons is thought to be linked with the Earth. It was also worn as a talisman for protection, often worn by shaman due to this belief as well as it being thought to have helped them in their magical practices.
The ancient Orphic Lithica states “The gods propitious hearken to his prayers, Whoe’er the polished grass green jasper wears; His parched glebe they’ll satiate with rain, And send for showers to soak the thirsty plain.
Jasper was used for healing purposes just as much as mystical, as it was used in the treatment of deterioration in the tissues of the internal organs. Though it is not certain whether these remedies worked and that the stone in fact had the ability to assist in such illnesses, we do know that just the mere hope of being healed could encourage one’s recovery, thus helping them heal, even if it were not physically. Also it was renown in the 4th century to drawn the venom if bitten by poisonous creatures.
Though some types of Jasper may possess different and numerous qualities, all in all the stone itself is not just captivating but also extremely interesting, with it’s fellow ‘gems’, Jasper has a long history that dates back to ancient times, and even then the stone was held with high authority.
So whether you’re looking for a stone to help your creative side flow, to assist you in healing or to merely try out these beliefs for yourself; there’s no doubt this gem is highly desired, for more reasons that just one. So don’t be afraid to make a sneaky purchase if one catches your eye, it’s more than likely to assist you on catching the eyes of many others wearing a stone that is so stunning.
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