Thursday, May 13, 2010

Learning a new skill - cutting pearl shell

Many years ago I was given a couple of beautiful large pearl shells with 7 pearl blisters in place. I have had three of these blisters made into a pendant and earrings for Fiona. However whenever I have taken the shells to a jeweler to have the other blisters cut out so that I can give them as gifts to friends; and to harvest other interesting elements of the shells the response has always been - too hard, too labour intensive, too expensive and takes too long.

I discussed this matter with Birgit W a jeweler in our town. She said "why don't you cut them yourself?' She offered me a jewelers hand saw (her own original saw in the photo); and purchased about 20 blades for me - extremely fragile in my mind. She also gave me instructions regarding loading the blades and starting the cut.

As you can see I made myself a small cutting platform; marked out a test pattern; and got into it.

And I discovered - yes it takes a long time to cut thick pearl shell with a jeweler's saw. You see from the detailed photo of the shape I cut about half way around the shape; and that took about three quarters of an hour. Fiona has suggested another option - cutting it up with a cut off blade in my angle grinder - a bit of overkill - but I will investigate options and keep you posted.

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