Rock tumbling has been used in the process of jewelry and gift making for years. Setting up to do your own rock tumbling may be a little expensive, although the tumbler does last for years if you are careful with it. The old adage applies. Look after your tools and your tools will look after you.
Rock tumbling roots.
Man has always been interested in rocks. The colors and patterns that form in rocks are amazing in range, and what rock tumbling did was what the ocean has done since its beginnings, rub stones to a wonderfully smooth surface and one that is suitable for handicrafts. If you look at pebbles on a beach, the motion of the sea and the consistency of the grains of sand and grit on the ocean floor mean that rocks are perpetually rubbed smooth, and any beach comber will find rocks that have been naturally tumbled easily.
Taking this a step further, designers came up with the idea that if the sea can do this, then so can a machine. They developed a drum like machine that turns, and found that by adding the correct abrasive material to the mix, what happened was that the stones are polished to perfection. What this did was give the public the means to polish their own stones, and the results are stunning.
Rock Tumbling as a hobby
Rock tumbling is a craft that can be enjoyed by the whole family, as well as individuals that want to make items that require smooth rock. Jewelry is typical of the uses that rocks will be needed for and the choices in colors from different parts of the world is truly diverse.
There are five stages to rock tumbling, although a batch of rocks can be worked on whilst the hobbyist makes objects from the last batch, whilst the new batch is in progress. Having two drums can be beneficial, as you can begin batches at different times, and create some kind of system whereby you have the finished rock to work with in between waiting time.
The stages are as follows and are time consuming:
1)First tumble - Rocks, water and abrasive coarse grit material - approximately 1 week
2)Second tumble Rocks, water and medium grade grit approximately 1 week
3)Rocks, water and a pre-polishing agent 10 days
4)Rocks, water and polish The suggested time is approx 2 weeks although I find 10 days sufficient. Here, it is for the user to gage the right amount of time for the chosen rocks.
5)Rocks, special soap and water.
Sounds long-winded doesn't it, although in truth the machine runs on its own requiring very little user time. Sorting sharp stones in between tumbles is pretty easy, and it is advisable to have the drums in a place where sound doesn't matter too much. The sound is not excessive, but can be irritating.
Getting supplies is simple as most good craft shops do sell kits to get started, and all the individual components for every stage of the procedure. You can cut down the time factor by using stones that have already been washed into pebble stage naturally.
After the whole process, you can see why the patience paid off. It really is splendid to see the results of the tumbling process, and the stone you are left with are first rate, fully colored and polished ready for that special project.
In the meantime, the sea continues it's tumbling process, and you can be happy that you learned a craft that started with nature.