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Kathy Sykes' Diary

Day 34: Melting Gold

Photo: River and glacierA 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?

Photo: Blobs of goldMike 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!

Photo: Close-up of the earringJonathan's 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.

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Photo: Kathy Sykes
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