Local artist Junesse Farley took a life-long love affair with rocks and minerals and applied it to making handmade jewelry, primarily using the technique known as wire wrap. She takes stones that she has collected herself or purchased on her many expeditions in the American Southwest, then cuts and polishes them by hand in her private workshop. Using sterling silver, 14kt gold-filled or copper wire, she then turns them into one-of-a-kind works of wearable art.
One of the most frequent questions that Junesse gets asked is, “How do you polish rocks? Do you use a tumbler?” It’s a bit more involved than that. After finding the right rock, it is cut using a special diamond saw, similar to a tile saw. Then the rock is shaped using diamond or silicon carbide grinding wheels. Next a series of silicon carbide or diamond sanding belts are used, which might be as fine as 0.5 microns (100,000 mesh/grit). And last a final polishing with polishing compound. The entire process has to be done “wet” so that friction doesn’t cause the stones to fracture. Another local artist, Ken Bates, took these amazing photos of the process during a visit last year, which can be seen at https://macbates.smugmug.
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