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Malachite Closeup by Undistilled Malachite Closeup by Undistilled
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Title: Malachite Closeup
Medium: Digital Photography
Photographer: Aaron J. Greenblatt
Camera Type: Panasonic DMC-LZ7 Lumix 7.2 MP
Editing: Edited in PhotoShop 7.0 for color accuracy, size, and to apply copyright and border.

Location: Photograph taken at the 2008 Southeastern Michigan Gem and Mineral Show at the Southgate Civic Center in Southgate, Michigan. Show hosted by the Midwest Mineralogical & Lapidary Society.

Description: This is a closeup image of a large piece of cut and polished malachite from Shaba Province, Congo. This piece was sitting out in the open on a dealer's table and measured a hefty 12 inches in length. The dealer allowed me to pick up and move this piece so that I could take this closeup image. Of course, it wasn't until after I had moved it that I learned that this piece was selling for $275. Thankfully, I have a good grip and steady hands because this piece weighed close to ten pounds. If I had dropped it, it surely would have shattered - as would my wallet.

About Cutting and Polishing: Malachite is a beautiful material, but cutting and polishing it can be a really messy and dirty affair. As I previously discussed in the Artist's Comments section of my Malachite deviation, this material used to be used as a pigment - and for good reason. Once turned into a powder or slurry (a thin mixture of an insoluble substance mixed with a liquid, as water or oil), malachite will stain lots of things green - from clothing and machine parts, to skin, fingernails, and many other things it comes into contact with. I've personally cut and polished many pieces of malachite and have yet to escape the process without some type of staining occurring.

Malachite is a soft stone with a hardness of between 3½ - 4 on the Mohs scale. It's easy to work with diamond and carborundum-impregnated saws, grinders, and sanders. A beautiful, glass-like sheen can be achieved when malachite is polished with just cerium or tin oxide. It isn't even necessary to use a diamond compound to polish malachite since it's so soft.

Now as soon as my saw comes into contact with a piece of malachite, I prepare for a dark green mess. Malachite slurry is created when ground malachite from a saw, grinder or sander meets up with my coolant compound - which can be anything from water, to various types of oils or even antifreeze. This slurry is often a deep dark blackish-green color and it tends to be thick and often gooey in nature. It will clog just about anything - including hoses, ball bearings, arbors, and anything else it builds up on or gets into. It's often necessary to stop working the material in order to clean the slurry out of various machinery parts - such as drainage hoses.

Often when grinding or sanding a piece of malachite, the slurry will build up on my hands and stain them green. If you've ever worn a copper ring, you know that copper will often turn your finger green. Well malachite is a copper carbonate, and its slurry will do the same thing to skin - only worse. It turns my fingernails green and gets into my cuticles, turning them an eerie blackish-green. And no amount of lava soap is going to get out the color. I have to wait for it to wear off - which can take several days - during which I often find myself having to explain to people just what the heck I've been up to.

Malachite will also stain polishing disks, pads, and wheels. This is OK if you are just using them to polish malachite. But if you were to then use them to polish more porous material - like some opals and fossils - it could potentially stain that material an ugly greenish color. I've had it happen to me several times. So I find that it's best to keep separate polishing materials for malachite and use different, non-stained ones for working other materials.

Information Source: Me.

Legal: Copyright © Aaron J. Greenblatt. All rights reserved. Commercial use prohibited. This image and commentary may not be used for any reason without expressed written consent.


Please click here to view my photography work located in my Gallery.

Please click here for images of my glass work located in my other Gallery.

Please click here for images of my glass studio located in my other Scraps.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconcecil92:
cecil92 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2017
Great awesome green. This very cool.
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2017
Thank you. :)
Reply
:iconkarmageddin:
Karmageddin Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2017
wow nice malachite
Reply
:iconvrinda-the-wistful:
Vrinda-the-Wistful Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful. :iconlovegreenplz:
Reply
:iconjohnk222:
JohnK222 Featured By Owner May 26, 2014
What a gorgeous piece! :-)
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner May 26, 2014
Thank you. :)

Nature creates some amazing patterns. :nod:
Reply
:iconglunac:
glunac Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012   General Artist
linked [link]
You rock specimen seems to have little tiny shamrocks in it. It's lovely!
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012
Indeed it is. :nod:
Reply
:iconlovedpurpleangelwife:
Who doesn't like malachite? (Mr. T voice) "I pity the fool..."
Reply
:iconjohnk222:
JohnK222 Featured By Owner May 26, 2014
I agree! I think it's really intriguing.
Reply
:iconlovedpurpleangelwife:
LovedPurpleAngelWife Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2010
Do you ever sell the slurry?
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2010
Nope, though I imagine it'd make for some good paint pigment.

:)
Reply
:iconlovedpurpleangelwife:
If you can get it into glass vials, you might be surprised at how well it sells at a mineral show! I'd buy some.
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2010
Hmm, interesting. I'd not thought of making for sale glass vials full of mineral dust before.

:plotting:
Reply
:iconjo-an-na:
Jo-an-na Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2010
What a gorgeous colour, and a lovely design too!
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2010
Agreed.

Nature does a good job at making pretty things.

:)
Reply
:iconlistoman:
listoman Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Thatd make a cool wallpaper or something!
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2009
Indeed. :nod:
Reply
:icongreenzaku:
greenzaku Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2009
Very nice photo that I'll be grabbing for my desktop wallpaper!

BTW, my old gem club had people doing malachite and opal on the same machines, but i haven't heard of staining happening. Maybe because lots of people used non-porous stones in between, which cleaned the place up somewhat?
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2009
I'm glad you like it. :)

As for polishing, I think it also depends on the type of opal - as some appear to be more porous than others. I could work Mexican fire opals with no problem but some of the Australian white opals took on a greenish color that wasn't exactly pleasing and that I couldn't get rid of. The same happened when I worked Petoskey (fossil) stones after working malachite.

It may also depend on the type of malachite. Malachite from Arizona doesn't seem to stain as badly as the malachite coming out of the Congo. Exactly why this is I'm not sure, but maybe one type is more stable than the other? Or maybe one has a higher concentration of binding impurities?
Reply
:icongreenzaku:
greenzaku Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2009
Maybe. I will try a bit of aussie malachite at the gem club when i go to adelaide next month. I'll have a check to see what happens to potch opal immediately after.
Reply
:iconundistilled:
Undistilled Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2009
Let me know how it goes. :)
Reply
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