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A general guide for using the Forum with some rules and tips
Mounting very tiny specimens
  
  Index -> Conserving, Preparing and Cleaning Minerals
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rocks2dust




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PostPosted: Nov 12, 2015 21:54    Post subject: Mounting very tiny specimens  

I'd like to securely mount some dust-speck size specimens in MM boxes. I want them to be easily removable if I decide to look at them under a microscope, but still attractive and readily visible if I want to look using a hand lens. The only methods I can recall being used are double-stick tape (I'm not sure how well this holds up) and enclosing the speck in a clear capsule (has optical distortion). I don't want to lose the little things, either, and mashing them into mineral tack seems like it would hide some of the specimen. What do folks use in this situation?
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Nov 12, 2015 22:19    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

A cat's whisker (the cat won't mind if you cut one off while she's sleeping). Dip the tip into water soluble white glue, then touch the droplet to the dust grain. After it dries, hold the whisker in the middle with tweezers while you glue the other end of the whisker to the bottom of the micromount box. Can always be removed later by soaking in warm water if you need to.

If bigger than a dust grain (more like a sand grain), use a cactus spine (the cactus won't mind if you cut one off while its sleeping), painted with matte black ink.
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James
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PostPosted: Nov 13, 2015 02:50    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

Those very long, strong, thin cactus spines must be great for this! I would never have thought of that (and even less the cat's whisker).
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Reinhardt van Vuuren




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PostPosted: Nov 13, 2015 05:30    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

alfredo wrote:
A cat's whisker (the cat won't mind if you cut one off while she's sleeping). Dip the tip into water soluble white glue, then touch the droplet to the dust grain. After it dries, hold the whisker in the middle with tweezers while you glue the other end of the whisker to the bottom of the micromount box. Can always be removed later by soaking in warm water if you need to.

If bigger than a dust grain (more like a sand grain), use a cactus spine (the cactus won't mind if you cut one off while its sleeping), painted with matte black ink.


I've heard of the cat whisker technique but the sleeping cactus is new to me, also had a good chuckle obviously.
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vicen




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PostPosted: Nov 16, 2015 05:03    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

Hi,
I use a porcupine quill instead of a cactus spine. I have been using them for ages and they are great not to damage the specimens. The porcupine quills are harder than wood and softer than metal.
Regarding the adhesive, I will recommend you use Paraloid B72 which can be dissolved with acetone and can be made into the needed consistency. It doesn’t yellow or degrade with time.
Remember that not all minerals allow humidity, and by using an adhesive that dissolve with acetone the evaporation will be faster.
The white glue will need water to be dissolved and even, sometimes, you will need to leave the mineral in water for some hours to be able to dissolve it. The adhesive could be brutal and collapse with time and will get yellow.

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Les Presmyk




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PostPosted: Nov 18, 2015 16:35    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

While I am not a micromounter, while growing up as a junior member of the Mineralogical Society of Arizona, I was surrounded by some of the country's best micromounters including Marv and Virginia Deshler, Phyllis Sonnenberg and Marc Watson, to name a few. While I never caught the bug for that part of the hobby, I remember discussions of the various materials they used for mounting very small crystals. Of course, being a the Arizona-Sonora Desert, thorns and spines from various cacti species seemed almost natural.

Fundamentally, go to the micromounters and discover what they use. They are the experts. After all, cactus spines and thorns are probably not available to someone living in a lot of the world.

I think I would rather snatch a spine from a sleeping cactus rather than trying to chase down a porcupine!
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James
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PostPosted: Nov 18, 2015 17:54    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

You can just buy them so no need to hunt them down! Search the web for 'porcupine quills for sale'. Amazing what one can buy nowadays.
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Nov 18, 2015 18:03    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

I'd have to add a Hollywood-type disclaimer to my micromounts: "No porcupines were hurt in the making of this micromount". ;))
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Les Presmyk




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PostPosted: Nov 18, 2015 18:11    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

The disclaimer should include cacti and people's cats.
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Pierre Joubert




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PostPosted: Nov 19, 2015 04:11    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

I would like to use this opportunity to mention that I am prepared to swop my limited stock of porcupine quills for deep red rhodocrosite specimens:-)
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rocks2dust




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PostPosted: Nov 26, 2015 12:29    Post subject: Re: Mounting very tiny specimens  

Thank you all for interesting ideas.

Has anyone used something like Thermoweb's Zots (adhesive dots)? They supposedly use an archival-quality, acid-free adhesive that stays removable. For the dust-like specimens, I'm thinking it would be a bit less nervewracking to unmount from a removable adhesive. On the negative side, I'd wonder about bits of actual dust sticking before the box gets closed again.

I suppose there are pros and cons for every method, e.g., acetone would evaporate quickly to allow retrieval from a shallow dish, but does tend to etch anything plastic nearby. I find the gelatin capsules I've been using to be ugly and in any event having too much optical distortion to examine without popping them open.
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