Sunday 31 August 2014

Intaglio gem carving

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And please see Lala Ragimov's Intaglio Gems page with photos and ordering information)

My copy after a circa 300 BC intaglio gem from 
Ionic Greece (Hermitage). March 2016

Here are my first experiments in gem engraving. Ancient carvers worked with a simple machine using oil and emery powder slurry to carve the gems (mostly chalcedony and agate):  
I made my intaglios using a binocular microscope and an electric rotary tool with sintered diamond bits and a continuous water supply.

Here are my results so far:

My first intaglio, Pegasus (agate).

Omphale, carnelian.
This was a freehand copy after a larger Roman gem.

A cupid riding a panther, carnelian intaglio

An engagement ring commission on chrysoprase in 2015

Head of Zeus Olympios intaglio on carnelian and impression,
in progress March 2016

More photos of the process:

Once the gem was on the dop stick, I sketched the design using diamond point and silverpoint and blocked the main shapes in with large round diamond bits.  
Further work was done using smaller round, wheel- and cone-shaped bits.

The biggest difficulty was not being able to see well because water obscures the view as you carve, though not as much as the thick oil and abrasive slurry, which I will try using later.  Another difficulty is learning to control the rotating tool especially when making curved lines.


In parallel I have also tried my hand at caving miniature black coral sculptures using the rotary tool with steel burs, abrasive wheels, nylon brushes, and polishing wheels and compounds.  This was my first time sculpting in the round. 

Cat and rabbit miniature sculptures in black coral


1 comment:

  1. hi master. I Kemal Akdemir master artists from Turkey. I need small diamond ball abrasives for carving and processing agate and similar stones. But I don't know how to reach them. Especially, I need blue, red, yellow, white banded abrasives that I can also apply the cutting and polishing phase. Where can I get these? Can you help me with this, please? My site is Gmail: I would be grateful to you if you could inform me, master. Also, please come to the defense of Turkey if my workshop. Always stay with love and peace, with art.