I've met Pat McMahan a couple of times at rock shows and have even bought a few rocks from him. Best of all, I found some special agates in a place where he insisted there weren't any! Ha!
But there's no way I can afford this book. Many of the photos in it used to be on his website, www.AgatesWithInclusions.com, but he took most of them down when compiling the book.
Yesterday -- Friday -- I finally got to spend a little time on the rock saw. I cut some petrified wood and some chalcedony, but nothing particularly spectacular. My plan was to put in at least two hours, but after only one hour, I jammed the blade and had to take the whole thing apart to clean it up and reposition it, which took the better part of an hour. By then I said the heck with it; I did a quick clean-up and planned for more time this morning (Saturday).
The weather was perfect, so I was at the machine by 8:00, with a tray of rocks I wanted to cut. I zipped through some more chalcedony and a piece of jasper from Brenda, AZ. Still, nothing out of the ordinary.
Then I picked up a small agate nodule I had started to cut last year. The end was cut off, exposing a nicely banded white interior, which is common for these little "bomb" agate nodules found out at 4th of July Butte west of Phoenix. Sometimes they have hollow centers with crystals, and sometimes the crystals form a solid interior.
To my surprise, the next slice showed a faint purple haze. Purple is not exactly common in 4th of July stones, but it's not super rare, either. I've cut a few pieces before with nice purple coloring. But this particular little stone turned out to have bands of subtle orange, too!
I ended up with three nice little slices from this stone -- which was no bigger than a pingpong ball to begin with. They'll go in the tumbler for polishing, then I'll wrap them in wire for next season's shows.
Excited after that discovery, I scrabbled around the bucket labeled "Agate Nodules" and found a couple promising specimens. Most are obviously white, so I was looking for stones that weren't quite so obvious.
The first was light colored, but it had a slight blue tinge to it, so I thought it might be worth the effort.
As you can see by the quarter, this wasn't a very big rock! But it had its surprises, too.
I was flabbergasted! I couldn't believe the first one I picked was also purple!
The next one actually had more promise. The exterior was dark, though that could also mean the inside was nothing but black. One that I cut last year had a gorgeous rim of dark blue and white banding, but that rim was only about 1/16th inch thick, and the rest was yucky dull black stuff. So I didn't get my hopes up for this one.
It's a little bigger than the other, but still a small stone. So I put it on the saw and started slicing. This time I was in for an even bigger shock.
None of them are very big, obviously, nor are they top quality. But I was still pretty damn excited!
Between the two sessions Friday and Saturday, I cut quite a few stones. Some are pretty good, some are just so-so. Some will be good enough for jewelry, and the rest will refill the freebie jar**. They'll take six to seven weeks to polish; I'll sort out enough to fill at least one tumbler barrel and start the process probably tomorrow morning.
Watch this space. ;-)
**The freebie jar had gotten so full that I decided to try selling the polished rocks by the bottle. Starbucks Frappuccino bottles are perfect. To my surprise, I sold out in two shows and now have to polish more freebies! There's always a supply, however, for the kids [of all ages] to pick a free one or two.