Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tumbling Rocks and other loud projects

As a kid, I *always* wanted a rock tumbler. So, when I saw one at a yard sale a few years ago, I scooped it up. I had no idea what using a rock tumbler would entail, so the first time I got the directions out, I was heavily dismayed to find the process would take weeks and weeks to accomplish.

Now that we are bona fide homeschoolers, though, we cannot shy away from a project just because it will take weeks and weeks... we must forge ahead because there is much to be learned!

Here, Cymbre and Eli are sorting through the rinsed rocks and putting them in the barrel for the "first grind." Once covered with the grinding medium and water, we load them into the tumbler only to discover that... rock tumbling is *really, really, really LOUD* and we have to do this for how long?

The first grind is supposed to take about 3 or 4 days. I started with the tumbler on the ledge in the dining room. The noise causes me to feel anxious and hurried. I keep expecting it to stop, like when the bread maker does its kneading cycle. But it doesn't stop. We are tumbling rocks. At my husband's wise suggestion, I move the contraption to the basement the next day. This is better but still quite noisy - and now I feel bad when I send the kids to play down there...

Finally, it's day 4 and I crack open the barrel to find, well, sludge. But I follow the instructions and fish out the rocks, now much transformed from the rather unremarkable rough rocks we started with. They are smoother and more colorful than at first. Cymbre and Eli were very excited about the changes and played with the rocks a bit, comparing them to the chart of what they should look like when we are finished...

I waited a day before diving in for the second grind. I realize that if I wait too long, I will never do it... and so last night I gathered the children and we set up the barrel for the second phase of our work. It doesn't seem as loud this time. Is it because the grinding medium is finer? Is it because the rocks are already smoothed? Is it because I accidentally added a bit too much water? Is it because the first grind left me deaf? Whatever the case, I now believe we are going to survive the two weeks required by the second grind. I'll update you then!

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