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  • mesquite amber

    A large mesquite fell over near my house. The ground crew cut it up with a chainsaw, but the remaining stump is too heavy for any four men to lift. It is oozing sap, as I think most trees can do.

    Mesquite is an ornery wood. Its sap could have some magical properties. Perhaps as a varnish on a fine musical instrument? What do you think, Frank?

    I could let it harden to amber. If you had a big hunk of mesquite amber, what would you make with it?

    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

  • #2
    The beauty of amber is in what it makes of itself. But for your sap to become amber you must let it be for 30 or so million years. Along the way it will go from sap to copal to amber. You don't rush fossils

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    • #3
      I'd make a fire with it and burn the stump out of the way. Maybe put a grill over the fire and cook some steaks on it.
      Brett Jones...

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      • #4
        Sell it as a cure for something and someone will buy it
        I just need one more tool,just one!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dp
          The beauty of amber is in what it makes of itself. But for your sap to become amber you must let it be for 30 or so million years. Along the way it will go from sap to copal to amber. You don't rush fossils
          I've seen the polished specimens of kauri gum at the museum in Matakohe http://www.kauri-museum.com/. I agree, with a little polishing they need no further improvement.

          I didn't know about copal. In 1991 I found a blob of hardened sap on a cholla cactus. This is rare -- I've never seen sap on any cactus since. That blob is now rock hard and about half its original diameter, copal I presume. I suppose the transformational hardening is as much a chemical as a drying process, but I don't know. Something I will look into.

          Cholla (a.k.a. jumping cactus) is diabolical, the most wicked plant on the planet. I've been meaning to polish that hunk as a special charm.
          Last edited by aostling; 06-04-2008, 03:13 AM.
          Allan Ostling

          Phoenix, Arizona

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          • #6
            Originally posted by dp
            You don't rush fossils
            Really? The kids tell me I'm a fossil. And every day is Rush, Rush, Rush.
            Paying Attention Is Not That Expensive.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by aostling
              I didn't know about copal. In 1991 I found a blob of hardened sap on a cholla cactus. This is rare -- I've never seen sap on any cactus since. That blob is now rock hard and about half its original diameter, copal I presume. I suppose the transformational hardening is as much a chemical as a drying process, but I don't know. Something I will look into..
              Just between us southwest inhabitants, which Cholla was it?
              For the edification of the rest of the country, there are a bunch of
              different chollas.
              ...lew...

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              • #8
                Originally posted by aostling
                Cholla (a.k.a. jumping cactus) is diabolical, the most wicked plant on the planet. I've been meaning to polish that hunk as a special charm.
                I know from my motorcycle racing days in the California desert about jumping cholla - they come out of nowhere. The spines will embed themselves in your legs through your leathers and whole limbs will stay with you for the entire ride. Needle nose pliers are needed before you can remove your leathers because they are well stitched to you. Horrid things!

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                • #9
                  You can always use it in a mix for making pitch for repouseé and chasing.
                  Glen
                  Been there, probably broke it, doing that!
                  I am not a lawyer, and never played one on TV!
                  All the usual and standard disclaimers apply. Do not try this at home, use only as directed, No warranties express or implied, for the intended use or the suggested uses, Wear safety glasses, closed course, professionals only

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                  • #10
                    Aostling -

                    I have very little experience with natural varnishes, but there might be a use for this sap among those who do mix their own. It might be an interesting topic for posting in one of the fine woodworking forums, or violin maker places.
                    Cheers,

                    Frank Ford
                    HomeShopTech

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lew Hartswick
                      Just between us southwest inhabitants, which Cholla was it?
                      It was Opuntia bigelovii, the dread Teddy-bear cholla. As you know, Teddy-bear spines have almost-invisible fishhook barbs on the ends. When one spine penetrates and the victim instinctively recoils, a whole clump comes loose from the cactus and sticks to your skin.

                      The best way to dislodge the clump is to get underneath it with a wide-tooth comb (like those intended for afros) and flick it off. Then you can spend ten minutes or so plucking out the individual spines. The ones that break will fester into pus pockets a few days later.
                      Last edited by aostling; 06-04-2008, 04:21 PM.
                      Allan Ostling

                      Phoenix, Arizona

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Frank Ford
                        Aostling -
                        It might be an interesting topic for posting in one of the fine woodworking forums, or violin maker places.
                        I encourage you to call me by my name. I'd change my forum ID to be Allan Ostling, but that is not possible.

                        Amber strikes me as nature's gift to the machinist, too. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber
                        The Vienna amber factories which use pale amber to manufacture pipes and other smoking tools, turn it on a lathe and polish it with whitening and water or with rotten stone and oil.

                        Perhaps it was the Delrin of earlier centuries.
                        Allan Ostling

                        Phoenix, Arizona

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by aostling
                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber
                          Interesting info on that page. I did not know there was blue amber. The oldest stuff is also a lot older than I thought it could be. I used to have a lot of it when I was a kid in the 1950's, and it was easy to find in hobby shops and gem stores as a grab bag item, but it seems since the movie Jurassic Park came out it's become very pricey. Especially if it has insects in it.

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                          • #14
                            If you could just find a piece that looks like the Virgin Mary or something, you could make a fortune on Ebay!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by steve45
                              If you could just find a piece that looks like the Virgin Mary or something, you could make a fortune on Ebay!
                              How about a twofer? This is the hunk of "amber" from the jumping cactus, looks sort of like the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus.

                              Allan Ostling

                              Phoenix, Arizona

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