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Learning to Cut Stone

People always ask if I cut my own stones. My answer was always “no I am afraid I would get too obsessed with it and there is no room in my studio, so I work with small lapidary artists to get unique stones.” Case closed. Then I started having ideas and visions for what I wanted to see in my new collections this year. So I started looking for a class. I was on the waitlist a few times and finally, when a new class opened up I jumped at the chance.

On a windy weekend, I headed to Albuquerque to learn over two days. Meltdown Studio is a shared space studio along Rio Grande Blvd. that teaches classes. I arrived 2 minutes late and the class was underway! The teacher, John Hill is an 80-year-old retired engineer. This man was not short on energy and knowledge and he was exceptionally organized and super interesting.

Take a class from this guy!

Here is an example of how he laid out an example of the stages of cutting a cabochon. 

There were five people in the class most of them new to silversmithing. John shared some of his collection of stones, I could tell he had an eye that comes from years of doing something. John and his wife Joyce had co-taught for many years. He shared fond memories of her and I got to work on her lapidary equipment. I think it had really good juju. 


And we got to work. The first stone was Picasso Stone and here is my first cabochon!! 

We were introduced to stones of different hardness and were able to learn the nuances of cutting different stones. Lunchtimes were spent talking about buying rough stone and show and tell of the different stones John has cut and where he has gone rockhounding all over New Mexico. He even shared a few secret spots. 

I still have a lot to learn and need equipment although a friend gave me some old equipment and now I have a good idea of how it may all work. But by the end of the workshop, I started getting the knack for it. I have two stones I think came out great and I look forward to setting them!

I look forward to learning more about this art and working with stone. I think I can just start making some room in my studio….. I got a call from an old friend and he had some old lapidary equipment he was getting rid of. I guess it was just meant to be. 

Here were my favorites of the day