Introducing Rock Talks Episode 1, Petrified Wood

Jessyca Ruth starts off our new YouTube series “Rock Talks.” In this first video she talks with Janice Tenorio about petrified wood.




Janice Tenorio – Hi everybody, my name is Janice Tenorio from Turquoise Skies. I’m here with Jessica Ruth, our lapidary artist, and we’ll be talking about Rock Talks today and petrified wood.


Jessyca Ruth – Good morning. I’m a lapidary artist here. I brought in some pieces today. These are all examples of petrified wood.

JT – I just wanted to ask a few questions about the stones, petrified wood, that she carries. How old are these trees?

JR – They are from the Triassic Period which is about 220 million years old. They are ancient trees. They no longer exist.

JT – If you look at the features, the wood is petrified now but so beautiful when she cuts into them. How tall are these trees usually?

JR – So of the 12 varieties that existed in the Triassic Age, they ranged in size from about 100ft-200ft, so they were very large trees, much like the redwoods.

JT – What types of trees were they?

JR – Well of the 12 different types of trees, I really only have two examples here today. This one being the palm root. You can kind of see, much like the current palm trees we have, they’re very porrise, and that was part of them getting their carbon dioxide* and water. That’s kind of a common one, the palm root. These other ones are all the same. I don’t really know what type of trees they were but they are the most common kind that you find. You can tell that they aren’t the palm because they don’t have the tiny little circles in them.

JT – Here’s an example. Just the grains of it. You can see them after cutting into it and polishing it. Look how beautiful it looks. I’m always excited to see what she brings in. Her stones are amazing. The colors are so nice and she always cuts into them so you can see the stone inside.

What the process of turning the stones into what you do….?

JR – The lapidary process. So how you end up with this to this. The grinding wheel process is a water process. You use water and a grinding wheel. I have about 7- 9 different grits that I use. These are on a 7 on the mohs scale, which makes them kinda hard so I generally try to start at a very low grit. Once you cut into it you can see if a  pattern worth polishing. Sometimes you get a very nice solid color. It takes about 20-40 minutes depending on the hardness of the rock to get a good polish.

JT – Is it easy to cut into it?

JR – It’s actually a very difficult stone being as hard as it is so sometimes you don’t get a nice clean cut. Sometimes it will fracture on you. I didn’t bring any of that. Generally if it fractures it’s not polishable.

JT – I know a lot of the stones I use, a lot of it is easier. The most common, like black jet, turquoise, a lot of softer stones, serpentine, pipe stone. I know these are just rocks, solid rocks, so I can imagine just how difficult it is to work with. Where did you find all these?

JR – These all actually come from the ancient Rio Puerco river valley. So the Rio Puerco is an old river that runs West of the Rio Grande. It basically pull all the ancient trees into one location. It’s kind of nice, as I walk around up near the petroglyphs, I’m able to find all different types of variations in colors.

JT – The polishing process?

JR – The process is basically you go through all of the grits, you DON’T use the cerium oxide on these because they are too porise so that will pull it in. You go through 7-9 different types of sandpaper then you polish it with a buff wheel, and that’s the end of the process.

JT – Jessica is alway bringing beauty to our studio here for us to work with and if you need to get into contact with her, please artists, reach out at Turquoise Skies and we’ll get you in contact with her. She brings in beautiful unique stones, and she’ll be doing more videos here.

JR – We’ll d more Rock Talks. We’ll do more processes. You can see some of the other artists’ take our stones and set them. Next time I believe I’ll bring in some jasper and talk about jasper which is locally found.

JT – I’m always excited to know about jasper so stay tuned. Thanks for watching!


Stay tuned for more “Rock Talks” to come!