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soapstone-msg – 2/2/10

 

Use of soapstone in period. Modern sources. Carving suggestions and warnings.

 

NOTE: See also these files: casting-msg, plaster-msg, sculpture-msg, Relief-Carvng-art, frescoes-msg, ivory-msg, ivory-bib, pewter-msg, tiles-art.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.

 

Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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Date: Wed, 5 Feb 1997 22:11:37 -0800

From: irgenwer at ix.netcom.com (Irgenwer Schuld)

Subject: Soapstone Casting (WAY-LONG!!!)

To: "Mark Harris" <mark_harris at quickmail>

 

>Greetings unto Twcs!

>>Long time no hear from! I wasn't sure you were still frequenting the

>Rialto. Got a well used saopbox around here, somewhere.

 

Hi Stefan:

This is the first time in a long while that I've had a little time

to spare for lurking on the bridge.  I guarentee that I'll be gone

again for several months in just a few weeks.  I'm on the home

stretch for finishing my dissertation research, and it manages to

eat up time very effectively!  I'm also spending most of my time

"allowance" for SCA activities on running the local fighter practice

(in pursuit of my life-long ambition to become a stickjock!)

 

I'm crossposting this to the rialto, since you brought up a question

that more than one person may be interested in.  Here goes:

 

>This is the first time I've heard of carving saopstone wet. No one

>suggested it here in previous discussions. In fact, some cautioned

>against getting the stone wet, because the water wood boil off and

>crack the stone similar to what you describe, even at pewter

>temperatures.   >I wonder if I could bake my mold in the oven after

>carving it wet to dry it out? Perhaps nearer the boiling point of

>water than the 500 degrees of the pewter?

 

You basically have the right idea!  I bake out my molds, first to

drive off the residual non-stoichiometric water from carving it

wet, and then to get it up to a temperature where I no loinger worry

about any sudden dehydration reactions from the hydrous silcates

present in modern soapstones.

 

Well - hit me over the head with a wet noodle!  Shame on me for not be

sufficiently detailed.  I watch the sculpture class in the room next

door to where I do most of my casting - and they're all carving their

soapstone under water in bowls and tubes, or with wetting it down with

a wet towel.  I'm under the impression from talking to the sculpture

types, that this is becoming more and more common as artists get better

educated regarding the materials they use.  But with regards to carving

your mold wet and then using it for casting, I need to get the

noodle squad over to do their thing to me, for I now realize that I

assumed everyone knew about how to properly bake a rock and why!

 

I mean - just think about this for a second - here I am, sitting around

and assuming that, of course, people bake their own rocks every day,

all the time!  Why, I think nothing of popping a rock into the furnace

and cranking up the heat!  YOU THINK I'M KIDDING?!?!?!?!?!?!?  I'm not!

 

But let me explain: I torture rocks for a living.  I'm a professional

mineral nerd.  At this point, I probably have rocks in my head, as well

as in my lab, my office, my truck, my closet, my bookcase (well, the

nice-looking ones...).  I don't think anything of just popping a rock

into the oven, if that's the appropriate thing to do!

 

So let me tell you in greater detail about how to bake a rock.

 

First, don't do it with massive talc.  There's a really lovely

pale green massive talc currently on the market in the States and

Canada that I see a lot of SCA folks east of the Rockies using for

their pewter casting.  But it has really serious problems with

cracking while being worked.  If you put massive talc in the oven,

it's going to break!  That's the nature of the mineral.

 

If you want to use a "soapstone" (please see my previous post for

the definition of this), use one of the schists on the market.  A

phyllosilicate-rich schist that's nice enough to be used as a

soapstone has enough other stuff in it to keep it together while you

abuse it.  The lovely brown-red schist from Michigan is a real winner

in this regard (give me a few days and I'll probably be able to hunt

down the quarry name); there's also a delightfull sillimanite schist

from the Ruby Mnts in Nevada that would do well for the casting

application too.  The talc schist from south of Mariposa in the south

Sierra Nevada doesn't work (I tried) - it's not fine grained enough.

 

So the first thing you need to do is pick the right rock to bake.

Use a schist and not a one-mineral "soapstone" like sericite or

massive talc.

 

The second thing to do is carve it.  Now, regardless of the actual

identity of the rock you're using, if it cracks while you're carving

it, it'll crack in the oven too. Rock that will crack with just little

abuse will not last through high temperature casting.

 

Now let's assume the mold is carved.  For the sake of discussion,

I'll use a three piece mold as an exavple.  For pewter casting, the

period practice (and current state of the art in SCA nations east of

the Rockies) was to pour lead pins through the mold pieces to keep

it aligned while pouring the pewter.  If you're aren't familiar with

this, there are some really helpful pewter-mavins who have properly

constructed period molds and cast with them in the shopping district

at Pennsic. One of them (a laurel from Ealdemere, I believe) has a

very nice pamphlet with drawings and such - I'd go and check it out

there, since you're much closer to Pennsic than I!

 

Anyway, about pins: you'll need them.  Melted bronze is too damn hot

to pour without pins.  (If it hadn't been for the pins I had put in

my very first stone mold - the one that blew up from explosive dehy-

dration of hydrous silicate minerals - I and my casting buddy may

have ended up injured badly instead of merely embarrassed.)  Now, I've

not come up with anything elegant, like the lead pins in a pewter

mold, but my current solution works well enough for me.  I use bronze

machine screws and fittings - marine hardware quality bronze, in fact.

Why?  Well, first, pouring bronze in a mold held together with bronze

isn't going to melt the screws and nuts.  And marine bronze can

tolerate thermal expansion and contraction a lot better than most

steel hardware.  Last, I lifted my marine bronze machine screws,

washers and nuts off my Dad's hoard of boat hardware so it didn't cost

me anything.  The bronze screws work well with melted silver too (I've

poured silver twice now into one of my stone molds)

 

To put them into the mold, I drilled with my low-speed

dremel a hole just slightly smaller than the diameter of the

screw-threads.  Then I carefully hand=threaded the screws into the

rock. I like a four screw arrangement best.  Two screws through the

key pieces, and a screw apiece through each key piece into the base.

I do attach a nut to each

threaded screw - the thought of an uncontained steam-and-hot-metal

explosion while casting in a new mold is not a happy one.  Actually

bolting the fool thing together will keep any inadvertant explosion

contained mostly within the mold itself.  For metals above 1000 C,

I'm not going to trust just pins.  A burn from pouring pewter can

be really really nasty - but a burn from melted bronze could ruin

the rest of your life.  Bolt the mold together.

 

Now, after actually bolting the mold together, I retract the screws

just a little bit, so there's a small air gap between the key pieces

and the base.  With all the hardware attached, and with small airgaps

between pieces, I put my new mold into my home oven, at 200 F (note

the temperature scale change here!  It's important) overnight.  If it

lives, I crank up the temperature to 300 F the next night, and then to

400 F.  If it lives (the massive talc dies before I ever get it out

of the house, the schist survives), then I take it into the craft

center on campus and put it in one of the casting kilns - to bake at

500 C (temp scale just changed back to celsius!) overnight or until

I'm ready to cast - whichever is longer.  When I'm ready to cast,

that morning I will turn up the heat so the mold will be approx 1000 C

when I have my metal melted and ready to pour.  I'm estimating the

1000 C based on the color of the fire bricks on the inside of the

kiln I like best at the craft center. (After you play with melting

rocks and metals, you get a feel for temp in a furnace based on color,

instead of having to dig out the thermocouple and poking it through

the hole on top of the furnace)

 

This is my current procedure.  It might be overkill, but the exploding

dehydrating schist made a deep impression on me the first and only

time I had a mold explode on me.  And any phyllosilcate

that's been cooked a while at 1000 C is going to suffer surface

dehydration reactions and metamorphose into its anhydrous pyroxene

equivalent (in general - any rockknockers who want to pit nicks, can

do through email...).  And the way to get any rock hot (not just a

phyllosilicate-rich one) is to do it gradually.  Baking a rock too fast

is like microwaving cold out-of-a-can raviolli on high: it go BOOM and

make a mess!

 

So, to sum up in just a few words: don't use massive talc, bring your

mold up to temperature in steps gradually, and make sure your mold

achieves 1000 C before casting.   And if you're not wearing a foundry

mask, hood, sleeves, mitts and attached apron (and equiv on your legs

and feet), you're going to get hurt.  This is real pyrometallugy here;

dress appropriately.  Paranoia is a good thing to have around the

melted "first-row" metals.

 

Oh, and one last thing: this isn't investment casting - so don't

throw the mold into a bucket of water to cool it down.  Do that and

it will explode if it's still hot.   I've seen rocks explode from

thermal stress - it's not a pretty sight, especially when you've seen

the injuries that people can get from flying hot-rock shrapnel.

 

What did they do in period? (I can hear someone ask!)  Well, thus far

I've been able to document repeat-use molds for high-temp casting made

out of fired-clay (one mold with many pieces!, for casting multiple

bronze buckles at one shot), sericitic schist for silver jewellry

pieces, calcareous sandstone (again for bronze) and fine-grained

limestone (bronze).

 

There.  That's all you're going to get out of me this evening!

And now it's back to procrastinating cleaning my kitchen...

ttfn, Twcs

 

 

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 1997 18:38:56 -0500

From: theodelinda at webtv.net (linda webb)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Viking scrolls--stonecarving

 

Soapstone is _very_ Scandinavian, and there's a reason why it's called

soapstone--it's almost that easy to carve.  Quite a few of the big

artists' suppliers, like Dick Blick, sell it in small pieces for

sculpting.  While it was mostly used in period for cooking vessels, why

not use it for a "personal" runestone--like an AoA scroll

 

 

Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 16:15:18 -0500

From: rockwallshire at webtv.net (Shared Account)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Viking scrolls--stonecarving

 

Re Soapstone:

 

Try Nasco. They sell soapstone for reasonable prices; in the 1997

catalogue, they have it listed in ranges of $1.55 for a 1-2 lb piece

through $10.20 for a 9-11 lb piece. They also carry a fun little kit

called "Rocks in a Box" for about $25; this kit contains a small stone

of amulet size, a larger stone about the size of your hand (or, at

least, the hand of a 5'8" woman), and tools needed for carving.

 

1-800-558-9595.  I use the Ft. Atkinson warehouse (especially since,

until about a month ago, I lived within walking distance of it), but I

think you'll want the Modesto, CA warehouse. They also have a web site:

 

htttp://www.nascofa.com

 

email: info at nascofa.com

 

I hope this is helpful to you.

 

I am, your servant, Merouda, writing through the Rockwall account.

 

 

Date: Tue, 21 Oct 1997 00:38:57 -0400 (EDT)

From: DianaFiona at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Viking scrolls--stonecarving

 

<< >

> Soapstone is _very_ Scandinavian, and there's a reason why it's called

> soapstone--it's almost that easy to carve. <...>

Yes, but my understanding from all I have heard about it is that it is

quite expensive.  Not that my project recipient isn't worth it:), but

working in expensive new materials on a wild project like this is, would

be foolish.  

Does anyone have info on fairly inexpensive soapstone? We are in

Greeley, Colorado if that makes shipping or distance an issue.

Thank you,

Lughbec

  >>

     Oh, the *soapstone* isn't  that bad---the shipping on the other

hand......:-( Anyway the best place I know of to get it is Steatite of

Southern Oregon--not bad for you in Colorado. Unfortunately I'm in Tennessee!

      You can contact them at:

(503) 479-3646 (Phone or fax)

2891 Elk Ln

Grants pass, Oregon  97527

 

      Hope that helps.........

 

Ldy Diana Fiona O'Shera

 

 

Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 19:28:17 -0500

From: woodchucker at tbscc.com (Charles S. Myers)

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Re: soapstone sources?

 

I sculpt and have numerous art supply scources Dick Blick at  1-800-828-4548

Artfully Lidia De Algarve----------

 

 

Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 18:18:26 -0500

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Soapstone

 

styrbjorn at juno.com wrote:

> Does anyone know where I can get relatively large chunks of soapstone?  I

> want to carve some cooking vessels like the ones the Vikings used.

> Soapstone is supposed to be a natural non-stick surface.  Wow, easy clean

> up at wars....

>

> Styrbjorn Ulfhamr

 

http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Gallery/4821/CarvingPrimer/carvspsrcs.html

 

Magnus

 

 

Subject: Soapstone and Asebestos

Date: Sat, 01 Jan 2000 13:59:31 -0800

From: Pat Reed <preed at sos.net>

To: stefan at texas.net

 

Stefan:

 

I sent this to a couple other folks, who asked me to send it to you for

inclusion in the Florigilleum, if you think it would be valuable.  You

have my permission if you choose to use it.

 

Patricia of Leicester

 

It seems I've confused everybody about soapstone and asbestos, so here's

a little more coherent information:

 

Soapstone is the massive form of talc, which is a metamorphic rock. If

it was a volcanic rock originally, it may have chlorite, actinolite,

epidote, and albite with it, and be converted to a greenschist.

"Granites" with a larger percentage of heavy minerals (usually dark)

will go to serpentines (a group of three minerals).   If it was a

sedimentary rock, like a dirty sandstone, it will have chlorite,

muscovite (white mica), albite, and quartz with it, and form slates,

phyllites, and fine-grained schists.  If it was a rock with calcium,

like a dolomite or limestone, it will have calcite, dolomite, tremolite,

phlogopite (brown mica), epidote, and quartz.  Clean quartz sandstone

become quartzite, and dolomite or limestone goes to marble.   The

"prolith" or original rock is put under about 2 to 8 kilobars of

pressure (about 5 to 20 kilometers depth of burial) and heated to

between 300 and 400 degrees Celcius. This can be the result of

subduction, regional metamorphism, or the emplacement of a granitic

"pluton". This is referred to as the "greenschist facies" of

metamorphism.  These rocks are completely recrystallized, and usually

are well foliated.  They are very, very common.

 

I've mentioned all of these minerals to show that "talc" is part of a

spectrum of minerals that occur together.   The minerals found in an

outcrop or quarry can change over a distance of a few meters.   The word

"asbestos" actually refers to the form the mineral takes naturally, like

the round "equant" shape of a natural garnet.  Several types of minerals

have this characteristic hairlike, flexible form.  There are five

minerals that are mined for "asbestos" used in commercial applications:

chrysotile (one of the serpentine minerals), crocidolite (an asbestos

form of riebeckite), anthophyllite (found with talc and serpentine),

actinolite-tremolite (which are closely associated with talc), and

cummingtonite-grunerite (which shows up at a higher temperature of

metamorphism than talc).  The fine fibers of asbestos can be inhaled, or

get stuck in skin.  The irritation this causes can lead to a variety of

diseases.  The amount of exposure is the critical factor in risk

assessment.  A "sanding" dust mask and goggles are absolutely necessary

when working soapstone.

 

So how do you know if the soapstone you're working on has any of these

asbestos minerals?  You can't, because the color and hardness are very

similar in these minerals.  If a you are buying from a quarry, ask them

about the mineralogy.  The State's Natural Resources department will

often have that information too.

 

Anders, you may have had a bit of pyrophyllite in that mold that

exploded.  It's associated with talc, but has more aluminum than iron.

It's white, apple-green, gray, or yellow, and softer than talc.  The

name "pyro" refers to "fire" and "phyllon" means "leaf" because it falls

apart like a stack of leaves when heated.  It looks more like white mica

than talc, but even my Mineralogy books say it's difficult to tell them

apart.

 

Notable occurrences in Norway:  at Altemark, near Mo i Rana (close to a

fjord, so accessible by longship), at Framfjord in the Sognefjord area,

Otta and Kvam in Gudbrandsdalen southeast of Alesun (this is structural

quality stone),

and at Kodal (90 km south-southwest of Oslo).  It also was quarried by

the Vikings on the Shetland Islands according to one reference.  In

Sweden, the noted deposits are in the Garpenberg Odal field, southwest

of the Kristineberg area, and at Ravlidmgran.  My email program doesn't

include Scandinavian notation, Anders, so I had to approximate the place

names.

 

Pat

(Geologist)

 

 

Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 13:00:19 -0500

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu,

        "- Metalcasting at onelist.com" <Metalcasting at onelist.com>

Subject: Re: Soapstone

 

> Melanie Wilson wrote:

> Anyone had experience turning this ?

>

> Mel

 

It's occasionally written up in some of the woodturning magazines

I read. American Woodturner or the (British) Woodturning.

 

Generally, it has to have no cracks and be turned at a very slow

speed. Most of the turnings I've seen have very small size to them.

I can't remember for certain but I think some folks use cyanoacrylate

glues (superglues) to stabilize any potential cracks. This is common

in some brittle materials. How well it might work in soapstone I don't

know and I haven't tried it. It may or may not work. My suspicion

is also that superglue may come apart with heat so I shouldn't cast

with something held together with it.

 

In period though most lathes wouldn't have had the speed that modern

lathes do and that wouldn't have been such a hazard (having a piece

fly apart at you on the lathe). Pole lathes and less-than-great wheel

lathes just don't attain that type of speed.

 

As far as molds go for metalwork, the Romans used stone molds to

cast what is presumed pewter plates into. I think I have recently

also seen a piece of a stone medieval plate mold in a book. I

have the Roman article (which was parts of five molds). I may have

the other but I got so many archaeological books in recently I haven't

had time to read them yet.

 

Blagg, Thomas: The Roman Pewter Moulds from Silchester,

Antiq. Journ. 57, 1977    pp. 270-6. May, or may not, have been lathe

turned. Conjectural. Also considered to have been scraped possibly

from a center pivot.

 

The Romans were definitely using lathes to finish some of their

metal cast objects. See Strong's Roman Crafts. This was common, and still

is, to finish cast pewter objects, particularly round ones like tankards

and jugs.

 

Of course you are aware of the danger for silicosis or asbestosis

associated with turning/working such stuff. Depends on the variety.

Some varieties have it in greater amounts than others, some have

practically no asbestos. It can get on your clothes and be transmitted

by washing clothes to other folks in your family. Just so you know

it's a possibility. You're going to liberate a whole lot more of it

turning and scraping the stone, and the rotation of the lathe sets up

a natural draft to throw it around.

 

My understanding from someone on the SCA-Arts list is that slate

tends to break up into tiny sharp pieces and is also hazardous to inhale.

It was also used in places like the Netherlands to cast low temperature

metals in. See Heilig et Profaan and the thousand pewter tokens it

depicts. It also depicts the moldmaking process. They cast pins in place

by using a three piece mold. The two molds that matched up on one side

of the larger one had a bent pin and 'keeper' stud in their mating edges.

This is a Dutch book and may still be available from Oxbow for about

$90. Why slate? It's what they had. Soapstone doesn't occur

everywhere.

 

For carving this sort of stuff:

 

I suggest using something like a bathroom fan with outlet hose

set behind the mold or soapstone you are working to downdraft it away

from you and to vent it directly outside. Bathroom vent fans can be

had quite cheaply here in the U.S. (about $15). The very same kind

you would mount in a ceiling or wall but with an attachment hose.

A respirator wouldn't hurt either. This is not going to be sufficient

for a modern lathe. I'm not sure what would be and I wouldn't particularly

want to empty out the dust bag from a shop vac or vacuum system that

might contain asbestos. I've been around that stuff, I don't like it.

 

Lest anyone suspect I'm a lightweight in the shop area, I spent well over

twenty years making thousands of objects in various trades and studied

Industrial Arts in university for five years. I've used most types of

machinery (and fixed them).

 

Magnus

 

 

Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 14:05:00 EST

From: <DianaFiona at aol.com>

To: Metalcasting at onelist.com, sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu, Dunstan at onelist.com

Subject: Re: [Metalcasting] Re: Soapstone

 

In a message dated 2/17/00 1:05:07 PM Eastern Standard Time, magnusm at ncsu.edu

writes:

<<

Generally, it has to have no cracks and be turned at a very slow

speed. Most of the turnings I've seen have very small size to them.

I can't remember for certain but I think some folks use cyanoacrylate

glues (superglues) to stabilize any potential cracks. This is common

in some brittle materials. How well it might work in soapstone I don't

know and I haven't tried it. It may or may not work. My suspicion

is also that superglue may come apart with heat so I shouldn't cast

with something held together with it.

  >>

    I haven't used superglue yet, but epoxy works just fine to repair cracked

or broken soapstone. Once filed and sanded it's not usually noticeable and

holds very well. I have heard either it or superglue recommended as repairs

for broken molds, with whoever suggested it saying that the glue in question

could withstand the temps associated with pewter casting. Unfortunately, I'm

blanking on exactly which glue was being discussed........... I haven't had

occasion to try it since I heard this tidbit, either, so I can't judge from

experience, there.

 

                Ldy Diana

 

 

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 00:51:42 -0800

From: Therasia <no1home at encompass.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Soapstone

 

> > Melanie Wilson wrote:

> > Anyone had experiance turning this ?

 

Yes, I've sawn, cut, whacked, ground, polished, turned, shaped,

pulverized, dissolved, melted, and even sublimed just about

every rock and mineral in existance - or at least it feels that

way. Rock lathes (yes, they do exist) differ from wood lathes in

a number of ways. First, they are designed to deliver a constant

stream of water to the working surface - in this respect they're

more like industrial lathes (which can also wet a surface).

They tend to have non-tradition means to mount the rock on the

spindle (I'm not sure that's the right name). The larger lathes

have funky clamps, instead of chucks, to hold the rock in place,

and the rocks have to be sawn beforehand in order to get them

into the clamp arrangement.  I'm assuming here that the usual

sort of itty bitty jewelry lathe is not an option for making

your bowls.

 

A local lapidary club might have a rock lathe available. If you

don't work in a place whose business is rocks, asking around in

the lapidary community is probably the way I'd recommend to get

help in turning a rock.

 

rmhowe wrote:

> My suspicion is also that superglue may come apart with heat

> so I shouldn't cast with something held together with it.

 

I don't think I'd ever attempt the glue tactic if I was casting

at precious metal temps. Even the most refractory rock glues

fall apart by 500 C. I don't know what the temperature of

combustion is for superglue, but I'm willing to bet it'd burn

off well before 500 C.

 

I strongly recommend baking your molds before using them for two

reasons. In general, baking your molds will find the ones who

would have cracked from thermal shock and expansion in the middle

of a pour. It's much safer for them to crack inside a furnace away

from people. The other reason to bake your molds is to drive off

loosely bonded water.  If present, any excess water in the mold

will flash to steam the first time hot metal comes its way,

possibly causing the mold to explode, complete with droplets of

melted metal flying everywhere.

 

I take my molds up to at least 800 C in steps. Molds for pewter

casting need never see a furnace again.  Molds for bronze and

precious metal casting should be heated everytime before casting,

otherwise the reaction between the cold air in the mold with the

hot metal can be a little too exciting.

 

> In period though most lathes wouldn't have had the speed that modern

> lathes do and that wouldn't have been such a hazard (having a piece

> fly apart at you on the lathe). Pole lathes and less-than-great wheel

> lathes just don't attain that type of speed.

 

It boggles the mind that all those beautiful antique jade carvings

were done on pole lathes.

 

> I think I have recently

> also seen a piece of a stone medieval plate mold in a book.

 

Is it the one in _Dress Accessories_ (part of the Museum

of London's series on the excavation of medieval garbage dumps)?

That one was a fired clay mold for making multiple belt buckles,

if my memory doesn't fail me.

 

> Of course you are aware of the danger for silicosis or asbestosis

> associated with turning/working such stuff. Depends on the variety.

> Some varieties have it in greater amounts than others, some have

 

You know, this comes up about once a year, and here I am babbling

away again about it. One of these days, I'm going to get around to

making a web site with all this stuff, so in the future I can just

point to the web site instead of typing typing typing...

 

Let me try to change your perspective about this topic. I'd advise

not worrying about asbestosis and silicosis specifically. They are

only a small part of the overall rock dust hazard. The safety guy for

my lab boiled it down for me rather succinctly a while back, and

it goes like this:

                      ALL ROCK DUSTS ARE BAD.  

 

And if you think about it, that's exactly how it is.  (I keep on

wondering why I didn't think of that - I guess it was so obvious

that I never saw it right under my nose.) Of course some rock dusts

are worse than others, but all of them are bad news.  About 5 yrs

ago, the Mineral Society of America put out a volume in their

Reviews of Mineralogy series entirely devoted to this subject.

 

> practically no asbestos. It can get on your clothes and be transmitted

> by washing clothes to other folks in your family. Just so you know

> it's a possibility. You're going to liberate a whole lot more of it

> turning and scraping the stone, and the rotation of the lathe sets up

> a natural draft to throw it around.

It doesn't have to be that way.  Rocks should never be cut on

or by machinery in a dry state. The working surface should be wet.  

A directed stream of water not only prevents rock dust, but it also

sends any dust-sized debris down the drain. Wet rocks are your friends,

especially if your soapstone is a serpentinite or rich in talc.  Rock

dusts are completely avoidable.  The best way to deal with a rock dust

hazard is not to make the dust in the first place.  :)

 

Some soapstones are worse then others.  This a list of rocks sold as

soapstone, sorted from worst to better in terms of dust hazard:

 

serpentinite

massive talc (this includes steatite)

tremolitic talc schists

sericitic talc schists

micaceous shale

 

> My understanding from someone on the SCA-Arts list is that slate

> tends to break up into tiny sharp pieces and is also hazardous to

> inhale.

 

Well, after all, all rock dusts are bad...  ;-)

Seriously though, even the non-carcenogenic dusts can hurt you.

Carbonate dusts plus sweat equals mild chemical burns, for example.

And even the most benign rock particle can become the nucleation

site for pneumonia if inhaled and lodged in a lung.

 

>From Mel:

> Slate can be dangerous & I do wonder on the type for casting, I

> certainly wouldn't try with our local slate MUCH to big a risk of

> expolsion, too many fracture planes etc.

 

Yes, slate does break easily, planar fracture, exploding pyrite

concretions, and all that. It's good for roof tiles and formerly

for chalkboards, but as a casting mold???  Shale would be a much

better choice. Softer to carve and less likely to shatter into

paper-thin tabular spinters with an attitude.

 

And back to Magnus:

> For carving this sort of stuff:

> I suggest using something like a bathroom fan with outlet hose

>           [much stuff on ventilation snipped]

> I wouldn't particularly want to empty out the dust bag from a shop

> vac or vacuum system that might contain asbestos.

 

Nor would I.  Working wet though removes the need for ventilation,

which may not work as desired since a household fan is going to deliver

turbulant, and not laminar flow. I rather dislike the thought of many

two-micron fibers eddying off in oblique directions in turbulant flow.

 

It's probably completely impractical, but I now have this thought

stuck in my mind of Mel in the backyard, with a big pole lathe and

a lawn sprinkler to keep the rock wet...

 

> I've been around that stuff, I don't like it.

 

There's no denying that asbestosis is a nasty way to die.  But there

are times when I think the perceived hazard is way out of proportion

to the actual danger. But that's a different topic for a different day

on a different mailing list than this one.

> Lest anyone suspect I'm a lightweight [snip...]

 

You?  A lightweight?  Magnus, I don't think anyone with common sense

would think that of you.   :)

ttfn, Therasia

 

 

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Date: Sat, 29 Sep 2001 21:19:51 -0400

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone, was: Marble slabs

From: Elizabeth A Heckert <spynnere at juno.com>

 

    If you do a search for New World Soapstone, they have a website for

their soapstone.  They are a soaptone quarry in Schuyler, VA, and their

main production is for counters and floors.  We went to get tailings (I

needed loomweights) and talked to a gentleman who was making bowls out of

the stone.

 

   Many warp-weighted looms' weights were actually broken soapstone pots.

Soapstone was a main export from Scandinavia in the Viking era

specifically for cook pots and lamps.  Unlike the earthenware or clay

pots, the soapstone can come in contact with the fire.

 

   When I went to pay for my bag o'rocks, I saw part of a price list.

Almost $30.00/square foot for counter top.  The main building there

(dates from the Civil War era) was made of soapstone in the manner of the

stone fences that don't use mortar.  Very cool!

 

   Elizabeth

 

 

Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 23:43:08 -0500

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

From: Nicolas Steenhout <vavroom at bmee.net>

Subject: Re: Re: [Sca-cooks] Marble slabs

 

>Where do you get your carving stone?  I am having a hard time finding soapstone

>of the right softness.  what I find will do, but I have hard time getting

>deatil do to crystal sizes and hardness . . . . though my molds are nigh

>inviceable :o)

 

I'm not Stefan, but here's where I've ordered soap stone from a couple

times.

 

http://www.montoyasculpture.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&;Store_Code=MSS&Category_Code=CSS

 

If that doesn't come up properly, try http://www.montoyasculpture.com

and weave your way to the soap stone section.

 

Muiredach mac Loloig

Rokkehealden Shire

 

 

From: val_org at hotmail.com (Gunnora Hallakarva)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Soapstone?

Date: 31 Dec 2001 06:09:33 -0800

 

>> Ralph Lindberg & Ellen Winnie wrote:

>>  I suggest that you buy it from a commercial source, possibly

>>  soapstone.com The reason is many soapstone deposits have asbestos. You

>>  don't really want to carve stone and free asbestos fibers.

 

ruhl at latakia.dyndns.org (Robert A. Uhl) wrote:

> Asbestos really isn't that nasty unless you're in the asbestos

> business.  Or carving it all the time.  It wouldn't hurt to make a few

> carvings, but if you're going to make a habit of it I'd recommend

> against.

 

Soapstone typically consists of 50 to 80 percent talc (Mg3Si4O10(OH)2)

mixed with chlorite, serpentine, pyrite, quartz, calcite, magnesite,

and dolomite. Some talc *may* contain asbestos -- generally not

soapstone, nor the talc that's in almost every consumer product you

use -- but the big problem in soapstone is the talc.

 

Talc is carcinogenic (never mind that it's used in all cosmetics and a

staggering number of consumer products). Chronic exposure to talc dust

may result in benign or malignant pheochromocytomas of the adrenal

gland, alveolar/bronchiolar adenomas, and carcinomas of the lung. In

layman's terms, that's "lung cancer".

 

Talc is also a phyllosilicate, which means that breathing the dust

also puts you at risk for silicosis, a type of lung disease related to

black-lung, asbestosis, etc. Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible

and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by overexposure to respirable

crystalline silica, such as soapstone dust. There is no cure for the

disease.

 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (CDC/NIOSH)

defines the REL (Recommended Exposure Limit) for soapstone at 6 mg/m3

(total dust), 3 mg/m3 (respirable).

 

For the official study of talc that was done to determine these

standards, see:

 

Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Talc

http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov/htdocs/LT-studies/tr421.html

 

See also:

 

OSHA Soapstone Exposure Guidelines

http://www.osha-slc.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_267400.html

http://www.osha-slc.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_267395.html

 

ACGIH [1971]. Soapstone. In: Documentation of the threshold limit

values for substances in workroom air. 3rd ed. Cincinnati, OH:

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, p. 232.

 

Miller JW, Sayers RR [1941]. The response of peritoneal tissue to

industrial dusts. Public Health Rep 56(1):264–272.

 

SO, What does all this mean? It means that you should probably work

your soapstone wet, to minimize dust, and also that you should wear a

good quality mist mask, provide good dust-control and ventilation,

etc. All the same recommendations made for carving antler apply with

soapstone, but even more so because of the cancer risk.

 

::GUNNORA::

 

 

From: Bill Schongar <bschonga at cisco.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Soapstone?

Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2002 09:26:50 -0500

Organization: Cisco Systems, Inc.

 

> Where can you buy decent sopastone for pewter mold carving?

 

Lee Valley/Veritas (www.leevalley.com). Besides being an excellent

source for woodworking tools at low prices, they have a suprising

variety of other stuff.. soapstone, one-piece spring scissors, book

reprints, etc.

 

They also have the advantage of being suprisingly cheap.

 

-Liam

(Who gets soapstone from Lee Valley all the time...)

 

 

Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2004 13:58:14 -0500

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soap stone dishes & bowls - a question

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Was written:

> During my afternoon shopping endevour to conquer the Evil Beast of Giftmas

> Descending, I discovered that our Oxfam World shop have some lovely

> soapstone dishes in stock.

>

> They're the perfect size to be used for drinking cups for my viking honey

> but I wasn't sure if soapstone could be used for that sort of use.

>

> Can anyone advise me on this? - does soapstone react badly to such things as

> mead or ale or ?

 

Soapstone previously was much valued because it is non-reactive, resistant

to high heat and easy to work.  I work of the Florida Geological Survey and

our building, specifically built for the Survey back in the early 50's has,

in its older unrenovated portions still has soapstone sinks and countertops

that have been proof against chemical spills for years. That being said I

cannot say if the soapstone you have does not have an admixture of asbestos

fiber in it.

 

Daniel

 

 

Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2004 22:19:12 -0500

From: "Ruth Tannahill" <rtanhil at fast.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] soapstone

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Daniel Phelps wrote:

> Was written:

>> During my afternoon shopping endevour to conquer the Evil Beast of Giftmas

>> Descending, I discovered that our Oxfam World shop have some lovely

>> soapstone dishes in stock.

>>

>> They're the perfect size to be used for drinking cups for my viking honey

>> but I wasn't sure if soapstone could be used for that sort of use.

>>

>> Can anyone advise me on this? - does soapstone react badly to such things as

>> mead or ale or ?

>>

> Soapstone previously was much valued because it is non-reactive, resistant

> to high heat and easy to work.  I work of the Florida Geological Survey and

> our building, specifically built for the Survey back in the early 50's has,

> in its older unrenovated portions still has soapstone sinks and countertops

> that have been proof against chemical spills for years.  That being said I

> cannot say if the soapstone you have does not have an admixture of asbestos

> fiber in it.

>

> Daniel

 

Soapstone is, chemically speaking, really hard talc. It's magnesium

silicate. Acids will etch it. In other words, ale and mead are fine.  Wine,

not really. It will certainly dull the finish, although any trace quantities

dissolved in the wine are unlikely to be harmful. Also, keep in mind that

anything carbonated contains carbonic acid. If left in the vessel long

enough, it will etch the finish. I would not use anything soapstone as a

storage vessel.

 

As to the presence of asbestos, I cannot attest. I suppose it's possible.

But please note that ingesting asbestos in trace quantities is no where near

as harmful as inhaling it. Before you lot give me holy heck for that, let me

quickly state that I would not recommend eating it, or eating out of

anything that could possibly contain it. I'm merely observing that it has a

less harmful effect on the digestive tract than it does on the lungs.

Asbestos is really only harmful when particulate. As long as it's trapped in

the matrix of the rock, it wouldn't get into the food even if it were there.

As long as you didn't put acidic foods or beverages into the vessel.

 

I would be more worried about the possibilities of heavy metals or trace

organics in the mixture.

 

Were the vessels listed as food safe? If so, they've been tested for harmful

agents and are safe to use. If they were not listed as food safe, I would

use discretion.

 

For example: Pier 1 sells wooden chargers that are not food safe. The reason

they are not food safe is that they have been finished with something that

is not food safe. I would go ahead and put bread, fruit, or cheese on one,

but I would not slurp up sauce off one.

 

If it were me, I would go ahead and use them for ale or mead. But not for

wine!

 

Berelinde

mundane chemist

 

 

Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2006 08:53:49 -0600

From: Robert Downie <rdownie at mts.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone (was RE: Bread machine revisited)

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

I get my soapstone locally (in Canada), convieniently cut into blocks

(which we then slice with a bandsaw), from Lee Valley - the mecca of

cool tools.

http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&;p=32712&cat=1,250,43298

They do mail order too, and they have so much cool stuff

http://www.leevalley.com

 

I've also seen it in larger art supply stores, but in HUGE irregular

chunks more suitable for making sculptures than small casts.

 

Faerisa

 

 

Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 17:43:29 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Lemon syrup.

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

Soapstone spreads heat evenly and well, so well that Tulikiva (I think

that's spelled right) uses it in  wood fired stoves designed for heating

rooms.  The big drawback is they, like ceramic tiles, can break easily.

 

Bear

 

> I've heard of soapstone griddles but have no experience in how

> well they actually work. Hoecakes got their name from being cooked

> on hoe blades or shovels.

>

> Gunthar

 

 

Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 22:04:21 -0400

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Lemon syrup.

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

Was written:

<<< Soapstone spreads heat evenly and well, so well that Tulikiva (I think

that's spelled right) uses it in  wood fired stoves designed for heating

rooms.  The big drawback is they, like ceramic tiles, can break easily. >>>

 

My response:

 

Soapstone, also know as steatite, is talc, a magnesium silicate. It is used

for laboratory table tops and lab sinks as it is unattacked by acids.  We

have a number of both in our building.  I do recall reading that it was and

is traditionally used in wood stoves in Europe because of its heat retaining

qualities. It is rather soft. Pure talc can be scratched with a  

finger nail.

 

Daniel

 

 

Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 14:54:51 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone Re:  Lemon syrup.

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

> Soapstone, also know as steatite, is talc, a magnesium silicate. It is used

> for laboratory table tops and lab sinks as it is unattacked by acids.   We

> have a number of both in our building.  I do recall reading that it was and

> is traditionally used in wood stoves in Europe because of its heat retaining

> qualities. It is rather soft. Pure talc can be scratched with a finger nail.

>

> Daniel

>

> mka

> Daniel C. Phelps, P.G.

> Florida Geological Survey

 

If I have the right of it, talc is hydrous magnesium silicate, which is

deposited by sedimentation or hydrothermal injection. Talc is also used to

describe the softest form of soapstone, a metamorphic rock consisting mainly

of magnesium silicate with varying amounts and kinds of chlorite.   Talc has

a Moh's hardness of 1.  Soapstone has a Moh's hardness varying between 1 and

3.  Steatite is more commonly used to describe the harder varieties of

soapstone which are used as countertops and heat sinks.

 

Bear

 

 

Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 20:27:29 -0400

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone Re:  Lemon syrup.

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

Was written:

<<< If I have the right of it, talc is hydrous magnesium silicate, which is

deposited by sedimentation or hydrothermal injection. Talc is also used to

describe the softest form of soapstone, a metamorphic rock consisting mainly

of magnesium silicate with varying amounts and kinds of chlorite.  Talc has

a Moh's hardness of 1.  Soapstone has a Moh's hardness varying between 1 and

3.  Steatite is more commonly used to describe the harder varieties of

soapstone which are used as countertops and heat sinks. >>>

 

Hmmm... I was quoting, in the main from a rather old dog eared copy of

Dana's Mineralogy.  Per Dana, "...talc is a secondary mineral formed by the

alteration of magnesium silicates, such as olivine, pyroxenes, and

amphiboles, and may be found as pseudomorphs after these minerals.

Characteristically in low-grade metamorphic rocks, where, in massive form,

soapstone, it may make up nearly the entire rock mass.  It may also occur as

a prominent constituent in the schistose rocks, as in talc schist.

 

In the United States many talc or soapstone quarries are located along the

line of the Appalachian Mountains from Vermont to Georgia. The major

producing states are California, North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia."

 

Talc is of course a mineral while soapstone is a rock.  As such soapstone is

typically an admixture of several minerals with talc predominating.  I can

try and provide old world locations if anyone is interested.

 

Daniel

 

 

Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2007 14:03:33 -0400

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soap Stone

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

Checked one of my European sources "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of  

Minerals and Rocks" by Dr. Jifi Kourfimsky.  Per that:

 

"Talc received its name from the Arabic language. The name of the compact

to massive variety--steatite, is of Greek origin.   It was a familiar

mineral long ago.  The so-called potstone (mixture of talc and chlorites)

was chiefly used in the past for the manufacture of pots; the attractive

coloured varieties of talc have always been a popular for making ornamental

objects."

 

Snip

 

"Steatite (soapstone) frequently forms part of schistose rocks."

 

Snip

 

"Europe's largest deposits are in Italy and Austria. Talc is today chiefly

used as a heat resisting raw material. for instance in the manufacture of

fire-resistant ceramic material."

 

Daniel

 

 

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 20:13:43 -0700

From: "Anne-Marie Rousseau" <dailleurs at liripipe.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone Re:  Lemon syrup.

To: "'Cooks within the SCA'" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>,

        "'SCA-Cooks maillist SCA-Cooks'" <SCA-Cooks at Ansteorra.org>

 

On soapstone sources, our local pewterers guild has several online

resources. You can check them out at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pewterersguild/links/

Supplies_001136519921/

 

one is Canadian, the other is in the states.

 

we've also found stone at various art supply places but it tends to  

be full of inclusions. Blech!

 

--Anne-Marie

 

 

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 22:45:15 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone Re:  Lemon syrup.

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

Check on United Clays of Texas.  They were listed as one of the ten  

domestic producers in 1998.

 

Soapstone has been found near Canton and Bandera City.

 

Bear

 

> The only site I've heard of in Texas was a pile of soapstone from an

> old train wreck within a few hours of Austin. Unfortunately it would

> require trespassing on private land to get to it, I'm told.

>

> Stefan

 

 

Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 19:24:10 -0400

From: Suey <lordhunt at gmail.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

 

You have me a bit surprised on this subject as no one has brought up

medieval Muslim use of soapstone pots which seemed to have been normal

fare in the Arab world in medieval times. Perry points out that they

were used as they did not change the flavor of or discolor food. He goes

onto say that they are durable but can break due to physical shocks.

Harisa and other foods that are beaten were not cooked in them.

 

So some reason that I cannot remember they were never adapted in Spain during

the occupation period. We used some other product for out pots and pans

which I shall remember after consulting a pillow cause we had this big

thing about throwing pots out after the first use. Was soapstone too

expensive for us to do that then?

 

Suey

 

 

Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2008 18:50:08 -0400

From: Gretchen Beck <grm at andrew.cmu.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone pan or griddle?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>,

      sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

--On Saturday, July 12, 2008 3:32 PM -0700 Lilinah <lilinah at earthlink.net>

wrote:

<<<

Does anyone know more about cooking with soapstone pans? Special benefits

or problems with them? (well, other than potentially dropping and

shattering them) Where to purchase them?

>>>

 

A quick websearch suggests that they heat very evenly and retain heat for a

long time. It's also ph neutral so it won't react with food.

 

Here's a couple of companies:

<http://www.soapstonecooking.com/>;

<http://www.cooksite.com/IBS/SimpleCat/Shelf/ASP/Hierarchy/0K.html>;

 

toodles, margaret

 

 

Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2008 10:43:46 -0700

From: Dragon <dragon at crimson-dragon.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Soapstone pan or griddle?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

Gretchen Beck did speak thusly:

<<<

--On Saturday, July 12, 2008 3:32 PM -0700 Lilinah

<lilinah at earthlink.net> wrote:

<<<

Does anyone know more about cooking with soapstone pans? Special benefits

or problems with them? (well, other than potentially dropping and

shattering them) Where to purchase them? >>>

 

A quick websearch suggests that they heat very evenly and retain

heat for a long time. It's also ph neutral so it won't react with food.

 

Here's a couple of companies:

<http://www.soapstonecooking.com/>;

<http://www.cooksite.com/IBS/SimpleCat/Shelf/ASP/Hierarchy/0K.html>;

---------------- End original message. ---------------------

 

They also have the nice property of being rather non-stick as well.

When properly polished and kept free of scratches (they do scratch

easily), they are wonderful to cook on.

 

It's also a very easy material to carve which is one reason it was

used to make pots. Griddles are easy, just get a flat slab. There are

people out there you can buy soapstone from but it is likely you will

only be able to get rough stone or prepared slabs and not finished cookware.

 

Dragon

 

 

From: Fvigil at aol.com

Date: July 24, 2008 4:34:33 PM CDT

To: pewterersguild at yahoogroups.com

Subject: Re: [pewterersguild] soapstone sources?

 

stefanlirous at austin.rr.com writes:

>So how good is the carving quality of this Brazilian soapstone?

 

A slight warning.

Due to the nature of soapstone, its quality can change quite a bit within the same quarry - even within a few yards or feet. I've had multiple suppliers send me block after block of very nice stone, then had the next one be full of inclusions, or cracks, or ribbons of harder stone. Heck I've had one 50# block where the first slabs off the end were perfect, and the other end of the block was crap.

If you've generally been happy with a source, odds are reasonable you will be the next time as well - even if you once got lower quality from them. But its almost always (at least to a degree) a gamble.

That said, I'm generally pretty pleased with Brazillian Green from the Complete Sculptor in New York, or the grey-green stone sold by Lee Valley in Ontario.

Fernando

 

 

From: Daphnebd at aol.com

Date: July 25, 2008 11:46:18 AM CDT

To: pewterersguild at yahoogroups.com

Subject: [pewterersguild] Re:soapstone sources?

 

Hello Stefan!

 




Stoneman Distributors: http://www.stoneman.ca/

 

Owner/Operator: Robert Morgan.  Great guy to work with and very reasonable.  I have ordered from him 3 times now, each time anywhere from 30 to 100lbs.  Including and depending on shipping, each 3x3x1 slab costs me approximately $3 - $5 per ($5 was when I did a rush order and had to have a special delivery).

 

When ordering, ask for soapstone used for makings mold for pewter casting.  Heck! You can even tell him that Bernadette Dionne recommended him to you!  Might get me a little bonus next time I order! hehehe!


 

He gets a lot of his business from folks like us, so he knows that we want clean stones, with very little inclusions and fissure lines. The stone is very easy to carve and pretty durable too.  I've had some detail breakage (after numerous pours) but have always been able to epoxy the break back together, so far!  

 

The stone colors range from tan to a brownish-grey-green, all from the same 3x3x5 slab (he also sells 4x6x? slab).  He will cut these down to approx. 1" thick blocks, and I don't believe he charged me anything extra for the cutting.  

The cuts are pretty even, but the stones still need to be sanded smooth.  

 


I agree with Fernando, too.  Fernando used to be my pusher, um, I mean I used to buy my blocks from Fernando when I lived in Calontir (he also got me started in this addiction!).  Quality can really range.  I've gotten a few pieces from Stoneman that I wouldn't sell to anyone, but I can & do still use them.  

 

Lee Valley does have some really nice stone, but I don't know if they will cut it to size for you.

 



Dafne



 

 

From: Brian Ferguson <derianlebreton at gmail.com>

Date: January 15, 2009 3:49:19 PM CST

To: pewterersguild at yahoogroups.com

Subject: Re: [pewterersguild] Casting in Stone vs Silicone

 

<<< You can, however also use finer stuff like the "Italian green" or "African wonderstone".

 >>>

 

I'm no geologist, but I think "african wonderstone" and soapstone are
 two different beasts. From what I've read the former is primarily 
pyrophyllite, while soapstone is primarily talc.



 

<<< I know the extant molds I have seen in museums are not the soft powdery stuff that most folks seem to use.

 >>>

 

I asked Robert Macpherson a while back about medieval mold materials.

 


Here's what he posted:



 

<<< I just ran through our file folder on molds and noted which stones 
were mentioned. I was surprised to see that we have info. on about 100
 mold fragments. Here are the results.



 

33 were identified as slates (or perhaps shales). incl. Fr. schiste,
 pierre schisteuse, pierre schisteuse noir, Nd. leisteen.


 

31 were unidentified.


 

13 were identified as some sort of limestone. incl. Fr. calcaire, Nd.
 kalksteen. A couple were specifically identified as lithographic
 limestone.


 

11 were identified as sandstones. incl. Fr. grs


 

5 were identified as calcareous mudstones.


 

3 as calcareous clay(!)


 

2 as soapstones (This surprised me; I had not, until today looked up 
the Nederlands word "speksteen")


 

1 calcareous sandstone.

 


1 "calcareous stone of soapy texture"


 

1 of cuttle bone"

-Derian. >>>

 

 

From: Fvigil at aol.com

Date: July 25, 2008 11:50:51 AM CDT

To: pewterersguild at yahoogroups.com

Subject: Re: [pewterersguild] Re:soapstone sources?

 

In a message dated 7/25/2008 11:47:14 Central Daylight Time, Daphnebd at aol.com writes:

>>Lee Valley does have some really nice stone, but I don't know if they will cut it to size for you.<<  

 

Nope - they won't

Fernando

 

 

From: Alex Haugland <ahauglan at gmail.com>

Date: February 20, 2009 1:30:25 AM CST

To: pewterersguild at yahoogroups.com

Subject: Re: [pewterersguild] Making Buttons - Soapstone Question

 

A slight amendment to this....  If you choose to use a bandsaw make sure your soapstone is free from iron pyrite.  I unintentionally ground the teeth off of the bandsaw blade I used by cutting up some pretty crappy soapstone (it didn't carve well either).  Fortunately, though the blade doesn't work well for cutting wood without burning, it still cuts soapstone fine, so I now have a dedicated soapstone blade.  

I do agree, though that you can cut with a wide range of tools, including cheap handsaws. Don't use anything too nice and you'll be fine.  I'd recommend a finer toothed saw rather than a coarser one, at least for hand tools. 3 part molds aren't horribly tricky to do. If you're pouring pewter registration pins, make sure to flatten the cut edges before drilling the holes for the pins or things won't line up neatly without a gap.  

A brick is a really simple solution for flattening (and probably pretty period, at least in idea).  I generally use a stationary disc sander, but I make sure to wear goggles and a mask as the powder gets everywhere, even with a dust collector.  You can also use a piece of coarse sandpaper on any flat surface.

 



--Alysaundre Weldon


Barony of Adiantum, An Tir



 

Anne-Marie Rousseau wrote:

<<< On making button moldsÉ.

First off, what fun! I love doing buttons. TheyŐre little and cute and uber period and folks need lots of them.

For cutting soapstone, I have to admit I donŐt use any sort of special tools. I know some folks use their band saws, or jigsaws etc and they get lovely straight clean lines. My first mold? Was cut with a tree saw! I then burnished off the saw lines. By rubbing my stone on a brick. Again, not fancy but it worked ok.

That said you may be able to find someone to prep you some moldsÉone of the joys of soapstone is that its soft enough it wont wreck woodworking saws, etc (the dust gets EVERYWHERE tho, so be sure to wear a mask (even a damp bandana) and if your saw has a dust collection system on it so much the better...

Good luck!

--AM >>>

 

<the end>



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