Don’t lick a piece of rough opal to see the colour bar or you will catch opal fever!
That’s what an old opal miner told me on one of my first trips away to the Aussie desert.
Of course, I didn’t listen and did the opposite, and here I am with the same amount of enthusiasm as I started out with all those years ago... Opal Fever!
What they didn’t tell me is it can be contagious.
It started when I was building one of the opal cabbing machines in the shed. I had quite a stock pile of rough opal at that time and my eldest daughter wanted to know what it would look like when it was cut and polished.
Once I finished building and testing I was cutting opal again, I would give her a choice of potch to practice cutting with. She would carefully ponder the potential of each piece and what it could be turned into, I told her if she stuck with it and had the patience to go through all the stages of cutting and polishing, that once it was finished she could pick out another piece with more colour and so on.
Bree Cutting her opal (2016)
To my surprise, she stuck with it! I did find myself getting conned into helping cut half of them at the start but since then Bree has independently cut quite a few nice little stones and some boulder opal also. She selects one of her self-professed masterpieces, drills a hole in it and then attaches the appropriate jewellery findings to the finished treasure, leather cord, pinch clasps, lobster claws etc, then proudly wears it to school for show and tell.
Bree's first necklaces
My youngest daughter also comes over when I’m cutting and slowly takes over the machines until I find myself doing other tasks, like dobbing opal onto sticks, whilst offering her the odd bit of practical advice. It's not worth fighting my daughters over cabbing wheel positions, I've worked that out the hard way living in a house full of girls where I am outnumbered 3 to 1!
I won't lie to you, it can be fun and games when they are cutting together. When they're not complementing each other on their treasured little pieces of opal, they are fighting and arguing over who’s using what wheel, one bumping the other or heaven forbid one cutting a piece of opal the other had their eye on! That's when I need to step in as referee and when daddy daughter time loses its cool vibe! 😂
Girls hard at work
I now find myself sneaking out to the opal workshop to get on a cabbing machine without the kids knowing about it, otherwise I cant get any work done. Most of my work gets done during school hours.
Dad and Daughter time
I’m not sure if they're truly catching opal fever or if they just want to spend time with their dad, either way it’s a good problem to have. I’m not sure how long they will be interested in cutting opal, so I'm enjoying every minute of quality time while it lasts and making happy memories for us in the process. Cutting opal gets them off their electronic devices and out of the house so until it’s no longer cool to "hang out with dad" in the shed I will happily relinquish my seat at the cabbing machine to spend time with my girls.
Bree still loves opal (2020)
You can check out more videos and opal information plus our range of handmade jewellery at www.opalquest.com
Thanks for reading.