In the last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to hunt a few areas just loaded with opalized wood. While I love petrified wood in general, I’ve developed a special fondness for the opalized variety.
Opalized wood can be a little more cantankerous to work with, being a little brittle, but some pieces are still solid enough for lapidary, and even the brittle pieces that won’t hold together for sawing or cabbing are still quite beautiful for display or crafts.
This picture shows a piece of opalized wood from Central Washington. It is actually solid enough for a saw, but I have other plans for this one:
While much of the opalized wood I’ve found in Nevada resembles the Washington varieties, some is a little more vividly colored than I’ve found elsewhere. This next pic is one of my current favorites from Nevada:
This particular piece will never hold up to a saw, but can be buffed up a little to take off a few areas of diatomaceous earth and will be used in my crafts instead of slabbed or cabbed. Other pieces I have from this area have more of the earth-tone colors of the rock in the first picture, and many are solid enough to undergo cutting. My only problem with the area I was hunting in is that a few pieces that I really, really want to bring home are just too big for me to get out of the gulch, even though my jeep is strong enough to carry a several hundred pound piece of wood. I’m thinking by the time we get snowed out of the area, I might just have figured out how to get at least one of them into my rig and home.
While much of the wood from Washington retains it’s rings and the look of wood, I’ve found that some of the wood from Nevada has more intricate patterning, such as you can see in the picture below:
While this piece has a little bit of fracture on the surface, it will mostly hold up to a saw and these patterns are not magnified. They are quite visible when holding the rock so the solid areas will make wonderful slabs and cabochons.
While agatized wood is more solid and more lapidary friendly, the opalized woods just seem to have some color and character often lacking in agatized wood. I’ll be going after some more of this beautiful wood again this year and am hoping that a few RHS1 members will be in the area to share the trip out with.
Until later, remember:
Life’s short – Rock hard.