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Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched?
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Posted by: Luann Udell Post Reply
05/26/2019, 15:53:08

A few years ago, I tried to etch some apatite beads. After I was done, they were so fragile they broke at the slightest touch. Russ Nobbs explained here that their chemical makeup made them ineligible for etching.

Now I'd like to etch some Mexican onyx beads I picked up at the flea market last week. Does anyone know if this will work, or if it will destroy the beads? (I know I could test one, but just wondering if anyone knows for sure.)

I will always miss Russ!!

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It's calcium carbonate, so acid would likely dissolve it.
Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
05/26/2019, 20:14:33



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Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched?
Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: frank Post Reply
05/26/2019, 21:09:08

Is your goal to give them a matt finish? A small vibratory tumbler will do that in half an hour with 1000 grit silicon carbide. I tumble pottery for master potters in a very big vibe to take the unintended sheen off pieces and that works very well also.



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yes that's right-
Re: Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched? -- frank Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: stefany Post Reply
05/27/2019, 05:08:41



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What sort of etching are you planning to attempt?
Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/27/2019, 04:32:00



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Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched?
Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: stefany Post Reply
05/27/2019, 05:07:24

if you just want to take off the polished glossy effect, try tumbling them with a fine grit.. i suppose the etching acid penetrates into the material too much...



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Thank you all, and now I have to buy a tumbler.
Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Luann Udell Post Reply
05/27/2019, 11:34:04

Thanks for the warning about liquid etching (Etch-All) and now I'll be looking for a rock tumbler!

I prefer matte finishes in general, especially when combining with those shipwreck beads from Mali and older beads with more wear to them.

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Re: Thank you all, and now I have to buy a tumbler.
Re: Thank you all, and now I have to buy a tumbler. -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: frank Post Reply
05/27/2019, 15:02:46

You do not want a rotary tumbler they are too rough on the stones. I have used vibes for decades and run a lapidary form so I keep on top of what is available and whether the brand has had a recent decline in quality which is all too common.I just looked on the Kinsley north vibe tumbler page and they have a very small Raytec which would suit your purposes.I buy a lot from Kinsley north and they are ok. Thumbler tumblers are now considered very good quality and are what i would buy in a standard sized tumbler. Ceramic media is what you use in the tumbler to do the actual grinding. The media come in various shapes and are made of alumina mostly. 600 or 1,000 grit are good for producing matt finishes. The higher grit for soft stones like you are talking about.A very small amount of grit is used , a tea spoon is where i start on a full sized vibe. The crucial part is the water. It should also be added by the tea spoon as too much water washes the grit to the bottom of the bowl and simply wears out the bowl in that spot.Add a little water and wait 3 or 4 minutes and allow it to spread around the bowl before you add more if needed. The bowl should be 2/3 full of media. The grit is broken down in a vibe in about 3 hours , they are fast. 600 grit puts a nice matt surface on quartz stones.



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What medium to use to polish chips out of glass without too much matting?
Re: Re: Thank you all, and now I have to buy a tumbler. -- frank Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
05/29/2019, 07:14:07

I have a pile of old beads from which I'd like to smooth out distracting small chips. The little Raytec you suggested looks like it could easily do the job. But then I sank out of sight trying to figure out what medium to buy...



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Re: What medium to use to polish chips out of glass without too much matting?
Re: What medium to use to polish chips out of glass without too much matting? -- beadiste Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: frank Post Reply
05/29/2019, 19:37:00

What is your favorite shape ? If you intend to tumble beads with grooves and you want to alter the material in the grooves then a triangle shape works great. For doing what you want any shape they sell would work. Remember to keep a close eye on the tumbling progress.Since your beads are of low hardness you could even run the media and grit for 15 minutes to get it mixed in well then add your soft beads. I would check them after 20 minutes to judge the progress.Watching the change in that manner is very pleasing to me.



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Thank you, Frank!
Re: Re: What medium to use to polish chips out of glass without too much matting? -- frank Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
05/30/2019, 07:36:33



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Frank (or anybody!), I found the Raytech, need more info about the ceramic media
Re: Re: Thank you all, and now I have to buy a tumbler. -- frank Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Luann Udell Post Reply
05/31/2019, 11:34:24

Frank, thank you for such a detailed recommendation! And rats, I already bought a second-hand Lortone, but will get the Raytec too.

Can you spell out exactly what kind of grit I'm looking for? When I got to the abrasives section and searched for "ceramic", there were a lot of choices, and I don't even know if I'm looking for "abrasive" or "polishing", and the options look like pellets....??

Here are the grits that came with my used tumbler (which I promise not to use on beads!) will any of them work??

Thank you for your patience, Frank, I don't know anyone who "tumbles" or "vibrates" except the folks here on this forum.

grit.jpg (210.3 KB)  
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Modified by Luann Udell at Mon, Jun 03, 2019, 11:25:13

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Thank you Frank et al.! Er....now what?!
Re: Can Mexican Onyx beads be etched? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Luann Udell Post Reply
06/06/2019, 12:40:17

Just ordered the little Raytech tumbler-vibe, a pound of small non-abrasive ceramic stuff...what looks like large tube beads?? and a pound of silicon-carbide grit 1000.

I wasn't sure what kind of grit to get, quoted Frank in Kingsly North's contact form, and the above was recommended. (Turns out the person who responded loves matte finishes, too!)

THANK YOU to everyone who responded, you helped me avoid destroying these sweet little onyx beads.

And of course, unless instructions are sent, I'll be posting again begging for instructions. Because....I'm clueless, but determined to finally learn how to do this! ;^)

can't seem to include the url but here it is on Kingsley North's website: https://kingsleynorth.com/raytech-s-tumble-vibe-5.html

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Luann Udell artist & writer Ancient stories retold in modern artifacts LuannUdell.com

Modified by Luann Udell at Thu, Jun 06, 2019, 12:42:50

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Please let us know how it turns out
Re: Thank you Frank et al.! Er....now what?! -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
06/06/2019, 14:13:14

I for one would like the “formula” for taking the gloss off shiny beads without wrecking them!



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I'm hoping Frank will check in again with instructions! 😄
Re: Please let us know how it turns out -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Luann Udell Post Reply
06/10/2019, 19:55:09

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