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 Post subject: Make your own stones
Post #1 Posted: Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:13 pm 
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A few years ago I was visiting a friend’s lapidary shop. I had some go stones in my pocket and showed them to him. I asked how difficult it would be to make some out of, say, dark brown or gray rocks and bright white or light gray rocks. He said, “Two approaches: core drilling and shaping or cutting to rough shape on the saws then days of tumbling and polishing. Might be a fun project. How many?” I told him. He laughed and laughed. Two or three years, two thousand dollars in saw blades and polishing compounds. “No one has that kind of patience!”

I was helping unload a kiln at a glass fusing studio and had some go stones in my pocket to show to the owner. She said we could easily build a shallow ceramic mold, fill it with frit (glass chips), and melt it in the kiln. It would give you a uniconvex stone or one half of a biconvex unit, just glue two together. Then she asked, “How many?” She laughed and laughed. “Ta week of studio and kiln time and $500 in frit. Must be a better way. Can’t you just buy some?”

I was talking with a ceramist/potter. Showed her my go stones. After the laughter stopped, she said, “You might first carve a wooden press mold that would make maybe five to ten at a time. Put a ball of clay in each little mold cup, close the mold, squish ‘em. Including kneading and clean up of the edge, Ten minutes for five to ten units. You’d want to use a fine cone 6 white clay and a nice black clay so you don’t have to glaze them. Fire ‘em up. A week max, start to finish. Clay is much lighter than glass and no two are going to be the same. Umm, if you keep them in those bowls, they’re going to get all scratched from rubbing against each other. Could be cool.”

That might be a fun project: handmade ceramic stones.

Also thought about polymer clay but not enough mass.

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Post #2 Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 12:11 pm 
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Ceramic stones is definitivly doable, but it would probably be better to glaze them (smoother to the touch). The problem with glazing is that you would need to fire the stones three
times instead of only once (you need to glaze each side of a stone separatly)

A black glaze like this for the black stones :
https://www.peterlavem.fr/5828-large_de ... ir-mat.jpg

A white glaze like this for the white stones :
https://www.peterlavem.fr/5312-large_default/blanc.jpg

But you could choose something more exotic :
https://www.peterlavem.fr/1254-large_de ... edonie.jpg
https://www.peterlavem.fr/2562-large_de ... amande.jpg


I may do an experiment later this year :mrgreen:

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Post #3 Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 12:46 pm 
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Here is a video on Youtube by Kurokigoishiten showing how to make the clam shell stones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JghjOqvV0_o

I think glass go stones and yunzi are made in a mold and there may be some touch up polishing. Plastic and ceramic go stones, also made in a mold, are available commercially. The high grade shell and slate stones are made by cutting thick disks and polishing.

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Post #4 Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 1:02 pm 
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gowan wrote:
I think glass go stones and yunzi are made in a mold and there may be some touch up polishing.


Not quite the same, but Youtube showed me some weeks ago a video on glass marbles being done. Basically, they extruded molten glass and shaped it by rotation as it cooled. You'd need some extra treatment with stones, but I'd think the basic idea would remain. In fact, I think I recall some beads in that doc that were, basically, oversized half convex. [*]

Take care.

[*] Not the same video, but the basic idea is there:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xLgJ0ZajrE

The one I saw was a Chinese factory, IIRC. Bigger operation, and more detailed video.

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Post #5 Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:13 pm 
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Tryss wrote:
Ceramic stones is definitivly doable, but it would probably be better to glaze them (smoother to the touch). The problem with glazing is that you would need to fire the stones three
times instead of only once (you need to glaze each side of a stone separatly)
:


Three times. Yes. My turn to laugh like everyone else with whom I’ve discussed this project.

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Post #6 Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:16 pm 
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gowan wrote:
Here is a video on Youtube by Kurokigoishiten showing how to make the clam shell stones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JghjOqvV0_o

I think glass go stones and yunzi are made in a mold and there may be some touch up polishing. Plastic and ceramic go stones, also made in a mold, are available commercially. The high grade shell and slate stones are made by cutting thick disks and polishing.


Nope. YYunzi stones are individually poured from a small crucible by hand onto a steel platten. Looks stupidly dangerous but the experts can pour tens of thousands of absolutely identical stones by sight and timing without measuring anything. One would think that, by now, the process would be automated or at least modified to protect the operators. I love OSHA.

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Post #7 Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:24 pm 
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Ferran wrote:

Not quite the same, but Youtube showed me some weeks ago a video on glass marbles being done. Basically, they extruded molten glass and shaped it by rotation as it cooled. You'd need some extra treatment with stones, but I'd think the basic idea would remain. In fact, I think I recall some beads in that doc that were, basically, oversized half convex. [*]


I have never seen videos depicting the inside of a glass go stone factory. However, if was informed decades ago by the guys at Ishi Press that Japanese go stones were molded. That process may have changed since then but they assured me it was the major thing that separated Japanese glass stones from Korean. The other factor was he quality of the glass

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Post #8 Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:18 am 
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bogiesan wrote:
I have never seen videos depicting the inside of a glass go stone factory. However, if was informed decades ago by the guys at Ishi Press that Japanese go stones were molded. That process may have changed since then but they assured me it was the major thing that separated Japanese glass stones from Korean. The other factor was he quality of the glass


Well, I have a set of B/W Korean stones (and another of greens, but I'm not yet used to that one), and I'm not 100% sure about the size itself, but the shape is not consistent. By small margins, but you know those diagrams (I think by kurokigoishi) that show which stones are not proper? I think I have some examples...

I think you should be able to mold the extruded spheric-ish yellow-hot "glob" into a go stone. Maybe it would have to be slower to avoid overheating or something, but I can't see why it couldn't be done. Maybe that possible slowing would account for some of the price difference.

For myself, I think I have enough stones for a while. Next stop, gosu and... sometime... shell stones. But I don't think I'll buy those online. For some weird reason, my fingers are starting to ask for thicker stones (mine are 9 mm --black-- and 8mm --green--). Someday.

Take care.

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Post #9 Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:58 pm 
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Making of Yunzi

Making of Yunzi 2

Yunnan Weiqi Factory


Sadly, I don’t understand a word of what’s being said, but I’m happy to own two sets of Yunzi stones: one single-convex, Jade (i.e. the white stones have a green luster), and the other bi-convex, black and white, and the black stones of both sets are green-ish when I look through them at a light.

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Post #10 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:01 am 
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Bonobo wrote:
Sadly, I don’t understand a word of what’s being said, but I’m happy to own two sets of Yunzi stones: one single-convex, Jade (i.e. the white stones have a green luster), and the other bi-convex, black and white, and the black stones of both sets are green-ish when I look through them at a light.


I _think_ I saw similar videos years ago at... chiyodad's page? [*] But I shudder to think the price those would fetch if done in the West. Getting Japanese slate & shell would be easier and cheaper, probably.

I mean... look at the world distribution of marbles' makers. Comparing amazon to a European Go seller, marbles are slightly more expensive. Let's say that extra is a packaging matter or something (marbles do NOT come in 361 packs... although some seem to come in Kg). Even so, the price for something round and automatic (90% of which are made in Mexico) is about par with the price for go stones in a specialty store. I simply don't see how we can make those in the West at a competitive price unless we go for precious materials or something. I haven't seen his products in real life, but there's someone who's on that path already. Has been for years, AFAIK [+].

Take care.

[*] Hmm... likely. I just saw who uploaded the last video originally. So, very likely.

[+] The page has been up for at least 10 years, and he answered a query some months ago, so I'm assuming it's the same person behind it, but I can't recall the name from, well, 10 years ago. Sorry.

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Post #11 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:39 am 
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[quote="]
I shudder to think the price those would fetch if done in the West. Getting Japanese slate & shell would be easier and cheaper, probably.
[/quote]

Ah, chiyodad! He had a good run blogging about his go experience. Entertaining and just the right amount of detail as he introduced odd video clips and unusual products. Yellow Mountain Imports is a much different company than it was back then.

Capitalism is a weird thing. The global market for quality go equipment is apparently vast, the demand remains unsatisfied, and the returns for equipment makers are possibly quite lucrative. Japanese slate and shell sets are not ever going to become less expensive. Ceramic and glass sets coming from the east will continue to get more expensive as the regional standards of living increase, costs of materials rise, and leaders squabble over tariffs. Alternative materials such as exotic stones and minerals will remain quirky oddities until, of course, the costs of traditional sets rise to approach the costs of the exotics.

If price is the primary factor that determines demand, then, yes, western manufacturing probably cannot compete with the handmade Yunzi products coming out of a spectacularly unsafe facility that pays low wages and offers no benefits like health insurance and a pension or union dues.

The bigger question for me is simply, “Why not?”

the history of glass marble manufacture is a good example. The dominant maker was Germany until the 1920s when the USA took over due to sophisticated manufacturing techniques and better glass chemistry. Now the industry is owned by a single Mexican company with two small USA makers still in business. However, there are hundreds of highly skilled glass people making exceptionally cool handmade marbles that command steep prices and are highly collectible.

http://www.marblecollecting.com/marble- ... arble-faq/

Mexican workers are now being paid well and the machines they use are sophisticated. I was in a toy store just yesterday and found marbles For sale that came from four different countries but not the USA. The range of quality was awful to fabulous but was not associated with price.

I can easily see the Mexican marble maker Vacor setting up a sideline of go stones. Maybe even doing interesting colors and patterns that would resemble the precious and semi-precious stones (that we imagine owning but not playing with).

http://www.buymarbles.com/marblealan/vacor.html

If they were reasonably priced and were comfortable in the hands, maybe they’d sell. However, I do not think the process of making perfect multi-colored glass spheres is directly adaptable to the manufacture of the traditional dual-convex lens shape. Perhaps there is room for a third design for go stones, a shape determined by the manufacturing technique rather than an applied aesthetic. What would that be? Yunzi weiqi stones are shaped by the manufacturing technique of dribbling a gather of molten ceramic onto a metal platten. Yunzi dual-convex stones are ladled by hand into a formed mold. Japanese glass stones are molded (so I’ve been told). Japanese slate/shell are hand-formed. Korean stones come in plastic, ceramic, and glass, with glass coming in traditional black and white and various clear colors, not unlike marbles, from Six Brothers. I guess a third shape, one that could be easy to manufacture, would more closely resemble a plano-convex lens, dead flat on one side and elegantly spherical on the other. They could be Japanese-style with hard gloss white and matte black or acid rinsed so both black and white had a matte finish.

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Post #12 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:26 pm 
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I think if somebody would create some nicely coloured single-convex ceramic stones of the quality and with the haptical feeling and weight of Yunzi I’d immediately want to spend more money than would be wise …

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Post #13 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:09 pm 
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Hi Bonobo, maybe 3D printing will come up with a very nicely shaped, textured, weighted, anti-bacterial, and durable set like the ING stones. :)


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Post #14 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:41 pm 
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EdLee wrote:
Hi Bonobo, maybe 3D printing will come up with a very nicely shaped, textured, weighted, anti-bacterial, and durable set like the ING stones. :)


ING stones had a piece of metal in the center, a not-trivial manufacturing feat! Pausing the printer to insert the weight is a hassle if you’re making them in your kitchen, probably the death factor in figuring out how to automate a series of 3D printers. And that’s only if you can find a steady supply of weights that are lead-free, congruent, and dirt cheap.

Keep the fantastic suggestions coming!

The discussion of go stone manufacture, even of a single set, is fun but academic until one comes up with a process that is, after objective deconstruction, actually doable.

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Post #15 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:46 pm 
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Bonobo wrote:
I think if somebody would create some nicely coloured single-convex ceramic stones of the quality and with the haptical feeling and weight of Yunzi I’d immediately want to spend more money than would be wise …


In solid colors or patterns? An extruded pattern would be possible. However, I’ve still got to wonder if buying Yunzi stones is not somehow a bit immoral; supporting that kind of dangerous manufacturing is not a good idea any more than supporting exploitative agriculture. On the other hand, Yunzi provides employment to many. So, who knows?

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Post #16 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:14 pm 
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EdLee wrote:
[…] maybe 3D printing will come up with a very nicely shaped, textured, weighted, anti-bacterial, and durable set like the ING stones. :)
Haha, yeah, I know you’re a big fan of Ing stones … and meanwhile I also have some, but TBH, I’d definitely prefer something ceramic over something plastic … but it should be possible to do 3D printing with some sinter stuff.


bogiesan wrote:
In solid colors or patterns? An extruded pattern would be possible. However, I’ve still got to wonder if buying Yunzi stones is not somehow a bit immoral; supporting that kind of dangerous manufacturing is not a good idea any more than supporting exploitative agriculture. On the other hand, Yunzi provides employment to many. So, who knows?
Solid, slightly desaturated colours, not too bright, or perhaps with a few stripes like agates or tiger-eye stones, definitely no regular pattern, and not something too “busy”. Oh, and definitely not glossy.

Watching those Yunzi videos again makes me wish for a furnace and tools to experiment with (I’ve often dreamed of working with molten glass which is not too far from it) … and of course enough money to pay the probably huge energy bills :roll: … but imagine having non-glossy “mock Yunzi” stones in “earthen” shades of red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, purple with the same grip, the same weight … and then some with the same colours plus soft streaks of other colours in it … <dreaming> … and single-convex stones apparently are a lot easier to make … maybe I should get me a small enamel furnace and try something out … broken glass can be found everywhere, and sand is cheap …

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Post #17 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:43 pm 
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Sorry... I posted while trying to revise something. Editing...

..edited

I'll try to answer proficiently, but I'm sleep deprived, right now (and it's not going to get solved for a couple of days, so...). Sorry if I ramble.

bogiesan wrote:
Ah, chiyodad! He had a good run blogging about his go experience. Entertaining and just the right amount of detail as he introduced odd video clips and unusual products. Yellow Mountain Imports is a much different company than it was back then.


He's probably the one thing I miss the most of that period. And I got to know some interesting blogs through his. All of them long asleep, now. And, yes, one of the things that shocked me when I "came back" the time before this was the vibe I was getting out of YMI. It didn't match. But then, buying from them wasn't that much of an option back then, so I never really explored that.

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The global market for quality go equipment is apparently vast, the demand remains unsatisfied, and the returns for equipment makers are possibly quite lucrative.


You need the expertise. I keep seeing the price for second hand, unrestored, goban, and some of them are quite cheap. But... you do need to restore those. So you need the expertise for the purchase... and all the process afterwards. I'm not aware of any Western artisan schooled in that. We even have swordsmiths with menkyo certificates, but no goban artisans.

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Japanese slate and shell sets are not ever going to become less expensive. Ceramic and glass sets coming from the east will continue to get more expensive as the regional standards of living increase, costs of materials rise


You've reminded me of something... Some months ago, there were some interviews to bokken/bokutô [wooden sword] makers; I can look them up if someone's interested. One of the things they asked them was about the quality of some European made bokken. The Japanese artisans seemed satisfied about the quality of those... and absolutely flabbergasted at the price. So, between that and, as you mentioned, tariffs, cost of living, transportation, clearance... There might be an option.

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Alternative materials such as exotic stones and minerals will remain quirky oddities until, of course, the costs of traditional sets rise to approach the costs of the exotics.


Well, the price of shell stones IS higher than most of those at the link I sent. Quite a bunch of them are at 400 USD, for 10 mm thick stones. Shaakengo has Jitsuyo at 9.8 thickness for 430 EUR. What I'm not sure at all with these things is hardness, brittleness and consistency and overall aesthetic effect.

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The bigger question for me is simply, “Why not?”


Indeed.

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the history of glass marble manufacture is a good example. The dominant maker was Germany until the 1920s when the USA took over due to sophisticated manufacturing techniques and better glass chemistry.


Germany was changing focus to other things, back then.


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Now the industry is owned by a single Mexican company with two small USA makers still in business. However, there are hundreds of highly skilled glass people making exceptionally cool handmade marbles that command steep prices and are highly collectible.


There seem to be small makers here and there, too. Googling about this a couple days ago, I found a factory-museum in SW England (somewhere slightly NW of Portsmouth, IIRC); there must be others. Just throwing an idea, but a meeting of Go event and traditional crafts promotion might be nice.

Quote:
Mexican workers are now being paid well and the machines they use are sophisticated.


Define "being paid well". Because the Devil's advocate in me would point out that the Chinese might argue the same.

Quote:
I can easily see the Mexican marble maker Vacor setting up a sideline of go stones. Maybe even doing interesting colors and patterns that would resemble the precious and semi-precious stones (that we imagine owning but not playing with).


Well, an ancient sage said capitalism is weird... :razz: I actually see a smaller manufacturer doing that and, if successful, Vacor jumping in. Monopolies are not usually fast to adapt. And, frankly, 90% is about as close to that as you can get in an unplanned economy, I'd guess.

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If they were reasonably priced and were comfortable in the hands, maybe they’d sell. However, I do not think the process of making perfect multi-colored glass spheres is directly adaptable to the manufacture of the traditional dual-convex lens shape. Perhaps there is room for a third design for go stones, a shape determined by the manufacturing technique rather than an applied aesthetic.


There are several points, there. Japanese aesthetics tend to have a forgotten, deep layer of ergonomics and usage requirements. I'm not sure how much you could change the design and keep it useful without changing, say, the way the stones are held. If you change that, the way the stones rest on the board might also have to change... and so on.

But then, one fast and easy change would be marbles and boards with depressions (say, Abalone board game-style). Changing the material of the marble would be relatively easy... and helpful for blind people.

In a way, the options for different shapes are already there. But do we have a public for those? The Western Go player is a minority. And cultural minorities tend to be rather conservative. Also inventive, because they have hurdles the original culture doesn't, but... well, we still see Shell ishi as a pinnacle. Japanese, not Mexican. That alone says a lot.

I don't know. I see options, but...

We'll see. Take care.

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Post #18 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:05 pm 
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EdLee wrote:
Hi Bonobo, maybe 3D printing will come up with a very nicely shaped, textured, weighted, anti-bacterial, and durable set like the ING stones. :)


I've actually seen 3D models at... thingieverse? And there were keyrings and such. Expensive; way too expensive.

bogiesan wrote:
ING stones had a piece of metal in the center, a not-trivial manufacturing feat! Pausing the printer to insert the weight is a hassle if you’re making them in your kitchen, probably the death factor in figuring out how to automate a series of 3D printers.


Dual extruder printers could be an option, I'd think. I still think cost-prohibitive, even if you owned the printer, but...

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And that’s only if you can find a steady supply of weights that are lead-free, congruent, and dirt cheap.


IIRC, Europe switched to lead-free buckshot some years ago.

Take care.

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Post #19 Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:13 pm 
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bogiesan wrote:
However, I’ve still got to wonder if buying Yunzi stones is not somehow a bit immoral; supporting that kind of dangerous manufacturing is not a good idea any more than supporting exploitative agriculture. On the other hand, Yunzi provides employment to many. So, who knows?


I'm... not the biggest admirer of the system in place at the PRC... However, my specific minuses in this case are not really the danger of the work as the care of injured workers. Somehow, I don't think it amounts to much.

But dangerous machines? Guys, not so long ago we had the very same problems and everyone thought it was normal. Some jobs / arts still do. Personally, I'm much more in favour of risk management than avoidance. It makes people more aware and, long term, safer, I believe.

Take care. Sorry it took me three messages, but I thought they were different enough sub-themes..

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