Trying something different with your opal
Most opal lends itself to cutting some form of cabechon. Some will have rounded tops and others, where the opal has a band of colour, will have flattened tops to ensure we get the most out of our opal.
When we have thin layers of opal it is common to give them a backing and make them into doublets, and if the opal layer is very thin, a cap is added and a triplet is made. This is often the extent of our experimentation. But we can do a lot more. Recently I had a piece of opal with a broad red flash on one side and nice colour through the rest of it. I was just about to cut it with the red flash as the base of the stone, as it was a thin flat bar of colour , when I decided to try something a bit different. This red flash reminded me of the sky during a bushfire and so I wondered if I could make a picture stone out of it. The first stage was to flatten the face of the opal using a piece of glass and 400 grit carborundum powder just as you would for a doublet. Next I did the same with a piece of black potch which was to represent the blackened earth after a bushfire. I then cut two flat edges on the opal and the potch and glued them end on to make a black lower part and a red upper part.
The next stage was to prepare a piece of quartz which would be glued on top of these two opal pieces as per a doublet. I flattened the lower face of the quartz using the glass and 400 grit carborundum and when it was flat I etched into the flattened face the shape of a dead tree using a dremel and bit. The next stage was to mix some epoxy glue with some lamp black and paint this into the grooves the dremel had made. Another quick rub over on the carborundum and the tree shape really stood out. I then glued this onto the opal pieces and formed a doublet with the shape of the tree silhouetted against the red sky and the black earth. The final act was to cut around the edges to get a reasonable shape and then cut the top into a normal cabechon shape. I was reasonably happy with the result and the following photos show the final result.