Opal Flame Workshop

  Making A Boulder Gem Inlay Opal Pendant

This interesting Opal Workshop project will be for a Boulder Gem Inlay Opal Pendant named The Opal Flame.....

I intend inlaying a beautiful piece of Lightning Ridge Crystal into an attractive item of  Koroit Boulder Opal ironstone.

I love the deep red-browns in this boulder piece as it has lovely bright lines and markings of green and blue Gem Matrix Opal running through it.

At the top of the boulder is a small number of flame-shaped deposits of Gem Matrix - perfect !

The natural rough opal  shape of the Lightning Ridge Crystal Opal has kindly presented itself to me in a likeness very closely resembling that of a "finger of fire" - what more could one ask !

The colors of this Lightning Ridge Gem are brilliant emerald-greens and aqua green-blues, with the color patterns themselves playing their part by exhibiting a "flame-like" movement.

From this point, I will carve and more clearly define that "finger of fire" into it's finished shape and once that step has been finished, the next step will be to mark out onto the Boulder the completed shape of the Gem Opal.

Just to slightly sidetrack here... when I was a child, my family would spend time on camping holidays in secluded areas of pristine rainforest. Often, I would gather up dried or semi-dried  tree leaves from the forest floor, these would include different types of eucalyptus tree leaves.

Having thrown these dried  leaves onto our campfire,  I would be totally fascinated by the way some of these leaves would burn with a green or a deep green- mauve fire. I presume this was owing to the particular oils present in the leaves - this I found mesmerizing ! This opal reminded me of that "green-fire ...."

I will be bringing you more photos when I've finished shaping this piece of Gem Crystal !

Well.... next step completed!

Photographed here is the final carved shape for the beautiful piece of Lightning Ridge Gem Crystal.

As you can see, I've managed to keep very close to the original unfinished rough opal shape, but just to make it more interesting and challenging ... a couple of small "fire" shaped flickers have been added.

A clearer close-up of the Koroit Boulder Opal has been added here to show more of the Boulder Opal itself before the inlay work takes place.

An outline of the flame shape will be marked out on the boulder opal so all that is needed for the next stage is to carve the mirror image into the Koroit Boulder.  No problem... ?? Well then again, this may take a little while!

If all goes well with this stage and nothing goes wrong and gets flung out of the window into the garden below (!) - I'll be back with the next  update  showing a successfully carved out mirror image of the flame into the boulder opal.

Well....as the photo shows, the carving out of the "flame" shape from the boulder opal, is under way.

A bit more depth is required yet and the more exacting task of carving out those intricate flame "fingers".  This is what will take the most time as I do desire a snug fit, so a lot of attention to detailed matching of opal to boulder is required here.

So for now, back to the carving...

I am also working concurrently on another challenging but highly rewarding piece - a beautiful Gem Opal Pendant featuring inlay centre piece and intarsia/mosaic surround.  (I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished outcome of this special one!).

Done !! -  Inlaying this difficult flame-shape opal certainly proved to be challenging  - but it worked out very well !

All the remains now is to give the Gem Inlay Boulder piece a backing to complete it as a Pendant.

The thickness of this boulder is 2.4mm and for a nice touch I decided that Matrix Boulder on Black should look very attractive by utilising  a 3mm thick slice of jet black leadlight glass.

The cut and polished Pendant will measure approximately 24.4mm long, 16.5mm wide and 5.2mm thick, excluding the bail.

The finished article !   And....

I must say that I am very happy with the end result.

The cutting and polishing was straightforward and the Boulder itself showed a little more of the Gem Matrix at the top of the stone, than I had previously envisaged.

That's the beauty of Boulder Opal - one never quite knows what will show itself until the final cut and polish.

I have fitted a very solid 9ct. yellow gold bail to this very unique and unusual "opal flame" inlay pendant, so it should prove to be very robust and long wearing.

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