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Archive for March, 2009

Part 4 – These rocks rock.

March 23rd, 2009

Hard to believe all this came from a single day’s digging.  I’m getting the knack of using the sun to bring out the beauty of these crystals in the pics below.

The latest discoveries are really amazing.  Check ‘em out.

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Crystals Part 3, First Revelations

March 19th, 2009

The first oxalic acid bath is complete and while some of the stones need another, I’m posting pics of a few that are complete.

My camera doesn’t really do them justice, probably more because of my limited expertise as a closeup photographer than the limitations of the camera, but somehow blaming the equipment feels better.

It’s so amazing to gaze into the water clarity of some of these buried treasures that we dug out of the Arkansas clay.  To see them emerge from the dust and rust to show their stuff is awe inspiring.  Even the tiny ones have amazing personalities upon closer inspection.

If you’re looking for a field trip that will bring you together and restore a sense of wonder in our relationship to Mother Earth, this is an idea to consider.

While these clearly aren’t museum quality pieces, most of them are really beautiful and all are completely unique.  Not bad for a single day on the mountain.

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Crystals Part 2

March 9th, 2009

This is another of my “where the heck are the snakes in this?” posts, but the Arkansas crystal hunting trip has been a significant sideline lately.

Quartz is far more common than diamonds (though not as much so as a certain cartel would have us believe) and therefore not worth much per carat, but the reason that it’s so pricey to own a large,  unusual or exceptionally intact specimen is not only the rarity of such an occurrence, but the pain in the posterior it is to bring a collected specimen to market readiness.

Seriously, this is a lot of work.  Detailed, methodical, repetitive and time consuming.  Given my personality, I really shouldn’t be having as much fun doing it as I am.

The clay doesn’t just wash off.  Stones that were soaking must then be dried so the clay contracts and another power washing session can remove more.  These deposits prevent the acid bath that will follow from getting to some of the rust that prevents the natural clarity from coming through.

Not only that, but I’m trying to end up with usable clay sediments as a byproduct, because of its healing properties.  Seriously, Joan took a nasty cut from one of the crystals she found and it bled only briefly, healed over by the end of the afternoon, and never hurt at all beyond the initial cut.

A nearby newbie miner asked John the guide for a band-aid after a cut.  We heard him tell her, “It won’t stay on for more than a few minutes of digging.  The clay will heal it.”  It’s true.

Here are some pics of this stage of the cleaning process.  Pieces that were barely identifiable under all that mud and clay are beginning to show their stuff, and the next drying stage is underway.

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March 7th, 2009

Between snake shows this time of year (off-peak for Snake Removal but also Blue and Gold Banquet season – to a Cub Scout, I’m a rock star) we were talking with our friends Randy and Joan about Arkansas.

Julie and I have long been drawn to the unique geometric beauty and energy resonance of quartz crystals.  About 70% of the Earth’s crust is quartz in its myriad forms, and we’ve recently discovered life forms on the planet that are based on silicon (like quartz) not carbon.   In many traditions, Mother Earth is alive – and very conscious.  These beautiful stones really seem to clearly if subtly prove it.

Joan had been to Arkansas on a couple of occasions to visit one of the mines that is open to the public wishing to dig for these little gems.  I realized that the window of great weather for such a day on a mountaintop might not last (it’s getting warm fast) and a couple of days later we were on the road.  We traveled North of Hot Springs to one of the mines located there, and spent a whole day digging in the dirt.  And the mud.  And the clay.  Very fun indeed.  Julie was as happy as a lark digging away at her pile of tailings from the mine below.

The trick to finding these little treasures, many of which are quite small but still beautiful, is to be slow and patient, stopping to soak in the nature around you from time to time.  That was right down her alley.

The mine charged a flat fee per visitor to leave with whatever they could dig up and carry off.

So it was that we drove back to Dallas with a couple of boxes of rocks covered in red mud.  This begins the second discovery of each item, as you clean them off in preparation for a diluted acid bath to remove the iron oxide and reveal the clear or white crystalline structures beneath.   As of today, we’re past the first washing and into the second soaking as the pics below will show.

Turns out oxalic acid is hard to find in Dallas, but all the rock shops were closed as we left Arkansas.  I may resort to muriatic instead, but it’s more dangerous to work with so we’ll see.  I’ll post some after pics once the cleaning process is complete.

Randy took care of the dog, the cats and the horse for us, and we really had a blast learning to dig for buried treasure.  It is really amazing to realize that the crystal you’ve just dug out of the clay may well be seeing the sunlight for the first time in a couple hundred million years or so.

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