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Making Buttons from Shell / Mother of Pearl

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  • Sam
    Has anyone attempted this? I have some fairly good sources on the exact procedures, but a jeweler I spoke with said cutting and polishing shell is incredibly
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 30, 2008
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      Has anyone attempted this? I have some fairly good sources on the
      exact procedures, but a jeweler I spoke with said cutting and
      polishing shell is incredibly dangerous and that he would never.
      Other source have said cut with harder bits at slower speeds under
      water, or at least a water cooling drip, to cut down the dust
      hazard - and wear a respirator-type mask.

      Apparently there is a problem that if you breathe in the shell
      particles, it can cause damage in the lungs. I'm a chemical
      engineer, so I believe I can work with the water and a mask and be
      okay. I just want to see if anyone else has ever tried this before.
      I have some mussel shells I want to try, but if oyster is a lot
      better, I can likely get some of those, as well. I live in Houston,
      so seafood is fairly available.

      Thanks!

      Si'le inghean ui MagAoidh,
      Barony of Loch Soilleir, of
      the fair and sunny Ansteorra
    • Jarrett Grace
      I suspect that it s the sharpness of the particles that s the concern as much as their chemical content -- after all they can t be made of substences too
      Message 2 of 13 , Sep 30, 2008
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        I suspect that it's the sharpness of the particles that's the concern
        as much as their chemical content -- after all they can't be made of
        substences too inimical to life -- they're secreted by the shellfish
        themselves. IIRC, they're mostly calcium.

        Cut under water, in a location with good ventilation, and wear a
        respirator-type mask and eye-protection.

        As long as you take all reasonable precautions to keep dust and sharp
        particles on the outside of you, it should be fine.

        Oyster would probably have a much better yield than mussels and IIRC,
        they were what was most used before being replaced by plastic.

        Hugh
        Who thinks this would be a cool thing to try.

        2008/9/30 Sam <samatha.cooper@...>:
        > Has anyone attempted this? I have some fairly good sources on the
        > exact procedures, but a jeweler I spoke with said cutting and
        > polishing shell is incredibly dangerous and that he would never.
        > Other source have said cut with harder bits at slower speeds under
        > water, or at least a water cooling drip, to cut down the dust
        > hazard - and wear a respirator-type mask.
        >
        > Apparently there is a problem that if you breathe in the shell
        > particles, it can cause damage in the lungs. I'm a chemical
        > engineer, so I believe I can work with the water and a mask and be
        > okay. I just want to see if anyone else has ever tried this before.
        > I have some mussel shells I want to try, but if oyster is a lot
        > better, I can likely get some of those, as well. I live in Houston,
        > so seafood is fairly available.
        >
        > Thanks!
        >
        > Si'le inghean ui MagAoidh,
        > Barony of Loch Soilleir, of
        > the fair and sunny Ansteorra
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >



        --
        I don't approve of political jokes. I've seen too many of them get elected.

        livejournal: hugh_mannity (http://hugh-mannity.livejournal.com/)
      • Karen Summerfelt-Hume
        Greetings! Some years back we used shells as site tokens, which required that holes be drilled in each shell. My husband drilled about 700 shells and YES, it
        Message 3 of 13 , Sep 30, 2008
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          Greetings!
           
              Some years back we used shells as site tokens, which required that holes be drilled in each shell.  My husband drilled about 700 shells and YES, it does produce a very dangerous fine powder.  We were warned by the jeweler about all the issues you have outlined.  The danger to the shell worker is the action the dust acts on is the actual functioning of the lungs. A good snnotful of the powder can paralyze the lungs.
               My husband is still breathing just fine.
               What he did was to soak the shells prior to drilling, wear a GOOD mask, had plenty of good ventilation in the room and actually drill in a small amount of water or make sure the shell stays wet.  He used a Dremel drill for this whole project.  The key is to simply eliminate as much of the dust as possible.  Oh - and cowrie shells are one of the worst, dust wise.
           
          Chagan
           
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Sam
          Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 10:30 AM
          Subject: [AandS50ChallengeCommunity] Making Buttons from Shell / Mother of Pearl

          Has anyone attempted this? I have some fairly good sources on the
          exact procedures, but a jeweler I spoke with said cutting and
          polishing shell is incredibly dangerous and that he would never.
          Other source have said cut with harder bits at slower speeds under
          water, or at least a water cooling drip, to cut down the dust
          hazard - and wear a respirator-type mask.

          Apparently there is a problem that if you breathe in the shell
          particles, it can cause damage in the lungs. I'm a chemical
          engineer, so I believe I can work with the water and a mask and be
          okay. I just want to see if anyone else has ever tried this before.
          I have some mussel shells I want to try, but if oyster is a lot
          better, I can likely get some of those, as well. I live in Houston,
          so seafood is fairly available.

          Thanks!

          Si'le inghean ui MagAoidh,
          Barony of Loch Soilleir, of
          the fair and sunny Ansteorra

        • Luke Knowlton
          I suspect its much the same issue as working with bone, the dust is very abrasive on the delicate tissues in the lungs and it won t come out once its in. This
          Message 4 of 13 , Sep 30, 2008
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            I suspect its much the same issue as working with bone, the dust is very abrasive on the delicate tissues in the lungs and it won't come out once its in.

            This discussion just popped this link up on gmail for the US Shell company: http://www.usshell.com/  They have a nifty selection of common and exotic shells and this includes nautilus shells for anyone thinking about making a nautilus cup.

            Luke


            On Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 11:37 AM, Karen Summerfelt-Hume <chagankhulan@...> wrote:

            Greetings!
             
                Some years back we used shells as site tokens, which required that holes be drilled in each shell.  My husband drilled about 700 shells and YES, it does produce a very dangerous fine powder.  We were warned by the jeweler about all the issues you have outlined.  The danger to the shell worker is the action the dust acts on is the actual functioning of the lungs. A good snnotful of the powder can paralyze the lungs.
                 My husband is still breathing just fine.
                 What he did was to soak the shells prior to drilling, wear a GOOD mask, had plenty of good ventilation in the room and actually drill in a small amount of water or make sure the shell stays wet.  He used a Dremel drill for this whole project.  The key is to simply eliminate as much of the dust as possible.  Oh - and cowrie shells are one of the worst, dust wise.
             
            Chagan
             
             
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Sam
            Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 10:30 AM
            Subject: [AandS50ChallengeCommunity] Making Buttons from Shell / Mother of Pearl

            Has anyone attempted this? I have some fairly good sources on the
            exact procedures, but a jeweler I spoke with said cutting and
            polishing shell is incredibly dangerous and that he would never.
            Other source have said cut with harder bits at slower speeds under
            water, or at least a water cooling drip, to cut down the dust
            hazard - and wear a respirator-type mask.

            Apparently there is a problem that if you breathe in the shell
            particles, it can cause damage in the lungs. I'm a chemical
            engineer, so I believe I can work with the water and a mask and be
            okay. I just want to see if anyone else has ever tried this before.
            I have some mussel shells I want to try, but if oyster is a lot
            better, I can likely get some of those, as well. I live in Houston,
            so seafood is fairly available.

            Thanks!

            Si'le inghean ui MagAoidh,
            Barony of Loch Soilleir, of
            the fair and sunny Ansteorra


          • wish4dreamhome@aol.com
            Has anyone attempted this? I have some fairly good sources on the exact procedures, but a jeweler I spoke with said cutting and polishing shell is incredibly
            Message 5 of 13 , Sep 30, 2008
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              Has anyone attempted this? I have some fairly good sources on the
              exact procedures, but a jeweler I spoke with said cutting and
              polishing shell is incredibly dangerous
               
              Well, I have never attempted it, but I do live up in New England, home to the Indigenous peoples known as the Wampanoag.... traditionally they made Wampum "beads" from Cohoag Shells (the purple and white inside)... of course this was all done by hand using specially shaped rocks as "grinding" stones... and the process is not at all quick.... there were also certain spiritual aspects to the process, especially for the beads being used for ceremonial items.... The actual shapes vary between more circular (like a button) to more tubular.... I have also observed some of the process when visiting some friends, but the gentleman demonstrating lives in Canada (First Nation related) and I have lost his contact info. I don't have any other local contacts that still practice this method, but I do have some VERY basic information on the process I could dig out of my research stash, but i would probably not be able to dig it up until at least next week... If you are interested, let me know...
               
              YIS,
              Anne Gryffyth




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            • Martha Wallenhorst
              My grandmother taught me to cut around the outside of the shell just under the mother of pearl. You don t have to cut deep just enough to see the cut, then
              Message 6 of 13 , Sep 30, 2008
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                My grandmother taught me to cut around the outside of the shell just under the mother of pearl.  You don't have to cut deep just enough to see the cut, then soak it in vinigar or high brine water for 2 weeks.  The mother of pearl lifts and you just have to cut the button shape out.  It took me a long time to get the cut right but it does work.  there is also a web site on the history and cutting of pearl buttons.  If you can't find it let me know and i will send you the url.
                Annejke
                 
                Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.  Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
                 


                From: AandS50ChallengeCommunity@yahoogroups.com [mailto:AandS50ChallengeCommunity@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Sam
                Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 10:30 AM
                To: AandS50ChallengeCommunity@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [AandS50ChallengeCommunity] Making Buttons from Shell / Mother of Pearl

                Has anyone attempted this? I have some fairly good sources on the
                exact procedures, but a jeweler I spoke with said cutting and
                polishing shell is incredibly dangerous and that he would never.
                Other source have said cut with harder bits at slower speeds under
                water, or at least a water cooling drip, to cut down the dust
                hazard - and wear a respirator-type mask.

                Apparently there is a problem that if you breathe in the shell
                particles, it can cause damage in the lungs. I'm a chemical
                engineer, so I believe I can work with the water and a mask and be
                okay. I just want to see if anyone else has ever tried this before.
                I have some mussel shells I want to try, but if oyster is a lot
                better, I can likely get some of those, as well. I live in Houston,
                so seafood is fairly available.

                Thanks!

                Si'le inghean ui MagAoidh,
                Barony of Loch Soilleir, of
                the fair and sunny Ansteorra

              • Sam
                I ve seen the URL on the history, but it didn t go into specifics. This is the first I ve heard of cutting and soaking to lift the Mother of Pearl from the
                Message 7 of 13 , Sep 30, 2008
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                  I've seen the URL on the history, but it didn't go into specifics.
                  This is the first I've heard of cutting and soaking to lift the
                  Mother of Pearl from the shell. The Edo period description said they
                  abraded the shell from the back of cut button blanks, which would be
                  a lot more time-consuming and dust-generating. I will try and do
                  this. If I can get it to work, that will save me a lot of effort in
                  drilling and grinding.

                  Thanks to everyone for responses - I was worried this was simply too
                  dangerous to contemplate doing at all.

                  Si'le

                  --- In AandS50ChallengeCommunity@yahoogroups.com, "Martha
                  Wallenhorst" <lghthse@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > My grandmother taught me to cut around the outside of the shell
                  just under
                  > the mother of pearl. You don't have to cut deep just enough to
                  see the cut,
                  > then soak it in vinigar or high brine water for 2 weeks. The
                  mother of
                  > pearl lifts and you just have to cut the button shape out. It
                  took me a
                  > long time to get the cut right but it does work. there is also a
                  web site
                  > on the history and cutting of pearl buttons. If you can't find it
                  let me
                  > know and i will send you the url.
                  > Annejke
                • Sam
                  Greetings, Chagan! If you wouldn t mind, could you ask your husband what sort of drill bit he used? Was it diamond coated or some other specialized, hardered
                  Message 8 of 13 , Sep 30, 2008
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                    Greetings, Chagan!

                    If you wouldn't mind, could you ask your husband what sort of drill
                    bit he used? Was it diamond coated or some other specialized, hardered
                    type? I've been told that something along those lines is needed, which
                    means I'll need to try and track one down that is small enough in
                    diameter to make reasonable-size buttons.

                    Si'le

                    P.S. Thanks to everyone for all the help and encouragement in the
                    answers - my jeweler friend had me half-ready to drop the idea
                    completely.
                  • Karen Summerfelt-Hume
                    Greetings Si le, Temur (my hubby) doesn t remember what the bit was coated with but it was the Dremel bit made for drilling glass. That might indicate a
                    Message 9 of 13 , Oct 1, 2008
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                      Greetings Si'le,
                       
                         Temur (my hubby) doesn't remember what the bit was coated with but it was the Dremel bit made for drilling glass. That might indicate a diamond coating but don't quote me. He went through 2 of them in the process of completing the project.  He kept a shallow tray full of warm water to do the drilling in, wore a mask and kept the room well ventilated.  The drill bit was tiny - well suited to button holes and tiny work. As I mentioned, he's still breathing.  The Dremel drill, however, is coated with a splattering of white gunk.  I'm thinking I remember he had a small fan running on a low setting placed behind him to discourage any dust from settling anywhere near his face.
                      Be careful but I suspect this is a very do-able project and I look forward to seeing (hopefully) the samples of your work.
                       
                      Chagan.
                       
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Sam
                      Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 2:23 PM
                      Subject: [AandS50ChallengeCommunity] Re: Making Buttons from Shell / Mother of Pearl

                      Greetings, Chagan!

                      If you wouldn't mind, could you ask your husband what sort of drill
                      bit he used? Was it diamond coated or some other specialized, hardered
                      type? I've been told that something along those lines is needed, which
                      means I'll need to try and track one down that is small enough in
                      diameter to make reasonable-size buttons.

                      Si'le

                      P.S. Thanks to everyone for all the help and encouragement in the
                      answers - my jeweler friend had me half-ready to drop the idea
                      completely.

                    • Loralei
                      yes a diamond bit, dremel will infact work well..just need to keep sheep submirged in a bit of water to keep the heat down on the bit itself to prevent
                      Message 10 of 13 , Oct 1, 2008
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                        yes a diamond bit, dremel will infact work well..just need to keep sheep submirged in a bit of water to keep the heat down on the bit itself to prevent breaking as well as to help reduce the amount of duist created....
                         
                        Lann

                      • Loralei
                        NOT SHEEP--they drown...should have been SHELL...     lann...who needs more java on next to last day at job!! And always remember....when life hands you
                        Message 11 of 13 , Oct 1, 2008
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                          NOT SHEEP--they drown...should have been SHELL...
                           
                           
                          lann...who needs more java on next to last day at job!!

                          And always remember....when life hands you Lemons, ask for tequila and
                          salt and call me over

                          --- On Wed, 10/1/08, Loralei <loraleiriney@...> wrote:
                          From: Loralei <loraleiriney@...>
                          Subject: Re: [AandS50ChallengeCommunity] Re: Making Buttons from Shell / Mother of Pearl
                          To: AandS50ChallengeCommunity@yahoogroups.com
                          Date: Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 8:52 AM

                          yes a diamond bit, dremel will infact work well..just need to keep sheep submirged in a bit of water to keep the heat down on the bit itself to prevent breaking as well as to help reduce the amount of duist created....
                           
                          Lann


                        • barb
                          I was just reading your original post and thought, wow, with all the abuse Sheep get, here is a new one!  lol I imagine with all the wool they would either
                          Message 12 of 13 , Oct 1, 2008
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                            I was just reading your original post and thought, wow, with all the abuse Sheep get, here is a new one!  lol
                            I imagine with all the wool they would either float well or sink like stones...heh heh

                            To get more on-topic, I have drilled small flat stones for pendants with a DeWalt drill...used a 1/8" bit specifically for stone/masonry...drill under water (or with a constant wetting of the surface) because the drill bit will overheat if left dry...it will work better when wet also...

                            I have worked with tiny jewelry bits before, this is the way to go for the shells...



                            --- On Wed, 10/1/08, Loralei <loraleiriney@...> wrote:
                            From: Loralei <loraleiriney@...>
                            Subject: Re: [AandS50ChallengeCommunity] Re: Making Buttons from Shell / Mother of Pearl
                            To: AandS50ChallengeCommunity@yahoogroups.com
                            Date: Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 12:00 PM

                            NOT SHEEP--they drown...should have been SHELL...
                             
                             
                            lann...who needs more java on next to last day at job!!

                            And always remember.... when life hands you Lemons, ask for tequila and
                            salt and call me over

                            --- On Wed, 10/1/08, Loralei <loraleiriney@ yahoo.com> wrote:
                            From: Loralei <loraleiriney@ yahoo.com>
                            Subject: Re: [AandS50ChallengeCo mmunity] Re: Making Buttons from Shell / Mother of Pearl
                            To: AandS50ChallengeCom munity@yahoogrou ps.com
                            Date: Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 8:52 AM

                            yes a diamond bit, dremel will infact work well..just need to keep sheep submirged in a bit of water to keep the heat down on the bit itself to prevent breaking as well as to help reduce the amount of duist created....
                             
                            Lann


                          • Jarrett Grace
                            ... and Bruce here teaches logical positivism and is in charge of the sheep dip Hugh ... -- I don t approve of political jokes. I ve seen too many of them
                            Message 13 of 13 , Oct 1, 2008
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                              "... and Bruce here teaches logical positivism and is in charge of the
                              sheep dip"

                              Hugh

                              2008/10/1 barb <dragon.rose55@...>:
                              > I was just reading your original post and thought, wow, with all the abuse
                              > Sheep get, here is a new one! lol
                              > I imagine with all the wool they would either float well or sink like
                              > stones...heh heh

                              --
                              I don't approve of political jokes. I've seen too many of them get elected.

                              livejournal: hugh_mannity (http://hugh-mannity.livejournal.com/)
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