This was the stone that started it all. I found this stone several years ago on the beach near Leysdown-on-Sea, Kent – long before I got my polishing machine – and it has been hanging around ever since. It was just a large sea pebble. On the outside it was a dull brown, with a broken area revealing a uniform red interior – but for some reason, it really struck me and I just couldn’t get rid of it. Call it instinct. Other things I picked up and wistfully dreamed of working with ended up dumped because I just hadn’t the technology, but this one lingered. It ended up in the rather chaotic garden of my old family home for a while, almost lost and buried. But fortunately not quite.
And then I bought my polishing machine. Of course, I was still without a saw, so I was still limited. But this stone was still pricking at me! I picked it up out of the garden one day, washed the mud off, brought it to London and just decided to see what I could do. So I powered up my massive polishing wheels and started grinding away at one flattish side of it. Of course, red was quickly revealed and I watched with interest to see what happened. I expected to see a uniform interior, but instead patterns began to show up – and flaws – and staining. And a weird pale shape right through the inside of the stone. I was astonished to see that it looked like meat – flesh. Like some curious internal organ.
To cut a (very) long story short, I just kept grinding. For week after week, whenever I had a few hours, I would let the stone ride the wheel. And I kept grinding until I had physically ground away so much rock that I had a genuine ‘half’ stone. And here it is. I finally managed to get a totally flat surface (the flaws meant that it had a tendency to chip) and a beautiful mirror polish – one of the best I have ever managed.
Now why did I invest SO much time and effort into this? It is basically a red flint-type rock. Nothing really unusual about it. The only answer I have is that it enthralled me – to slowly voyage through that rock and watch what was revealed. A rock that I had found – and maybe because it was an ordinary pebble and thus so familiar. And also because it is bloody beautiful! Its fleshy veined appearance is amazing – the colour as well. At heart, I am not really a ‘collector’ – I don’t respond to things being ‘rare’ or ‘precious’ (well – not always anyway!) or ‘done in the right way’ – I respond to what I see as beauty, plain and simple. And for all the rare and unusual and exquisite thundereggs I have bought or polished, this stone has a very special place for me. It helps remind that beauty can be found in the most ordinary things, if you look.