Earning a seven on the Mohs Mineral Hardness scale, Onyx is only three points softer than diamond, the hardest known mineral in existence. How then, are artisans able to carve onyx into the chiseled bowls we offer here at Littlefield Home? In a virtual tutorial called “Onyx Stone Carving,” on the Instructables Workshop website, an anonymous user named Vivalatina provides detailed, photographic step-by-step instructions on onyx-carving.
Vivalatina, whose real name is Nicolas Tranchant (as revealed by his Youtube series), approaches onyx-carving from a simultaneously creative and scientific standpoint by begins the with a list of necessary materials/ingredients, as if cooking or conducting an experiment. These materials include a diamond disc saw, a carbide drill, and a buffing wheel. Tranchant also emphasizes the importance of having a bucket of water handy, since the onyx always needs to be wet while it is being cut so as to prevent breakage within the material due to overheating.
As cutting continues, Tranchant utilizes “jeweler wax” to help set the stone on a metal shaft. To perfect the desired shape of the carved Onyx, Tranchant glues a piece of sandpaper onto a wooden plate and manually moves the stone around the sandpaper. After achieving the desired shape, Tranchant polishes his Onyx piece with a buffing wheel mounted on bench later motor. He concludes by using a Polygold 2000 millstone to create a perfectly smooth final surface.
While Tranchant is carving a much smaller Onyx sample than any of our Onyx Bowls, the process would be similar. The same materials and equipment would likely used to carve Onyx bowls, in addition to hand-chiseling.
The next time you see our Onyx Bowls in-person or online, you’ll be even more amazed at their natural beauty and the work that’s been put into crafting them into bowls.
Watch the process here:
For another view on how larger pieces of Onyx are cut, check out this video: