Day 34: Melting
very nice, mellow last day. Began gorgeously sunny too - so soaked up
some last views of the amazing snow-capped mountains surrounding the sawmill.
Began the day by fishing the container with the gold in out of the furnace.
It was an exciting moment! Would it have spoiled? Would it have vapourised?
Would it even have melted?
B delved in - and bought out the crucible:- intact! Inside was a lovely
green, glassy solid. We could see small bits of gold glinting inside -
but lots of them. So, maybe it hadn't even melted!? J bashed the
glassy stuff, and out fell some beautiful blobs of gold, that clearly
had melted. We were all so pleased! In spite of all our worries - it had
got to temperature! I ground down the glass and gold. Ellen panned it
- and got out satisfying amounts of gold. Jonathan went off to try use
a ceben arc to re-melt the gold, to get it into more bits. The two Mikes
got the furnace re-stoked in case Jonathan's idea didn't work.
Ellen and I got on with our earrings. We based it on the spiral of a fern-heat
- the start of the growth of a punga form. It's a Maori symbol for
“life”. We tapped out spiral patterns and toyed with the idea
of using garnets. When we finally tried them on, they looked surprisingly
good! I never wear gold jewellery - but I love our hammered-out gold!
idea worked. His biggest problem was containing the gold. At 1062oC,
it melted or set fire to everything it was in contact with! Once melted,
J painstakingly filed the gold down. He drew a Maori shape that was close
to the shape the gold had naturally formed, and, just like me and Ellen,
worked with it. So we all finished up. The Mikes stopped working the furnace,
Ellen and I finished early, and it was just left to J to file his gold.
Not much we could do to help The weather had closed in, the rain had begun
and we all sat, wrapped up snug in the coffee room, savouring the last
moments of the sawmill (or in some cases, snoring through them).
J finally finished
his gold creation. A beautiful Maori ‘shrimp'. So, two earrings
and a gold pendant after six weeks' gold panning. Phew! Very relieved
that they actually looked quite lovely.