Visiting the LaFarge Quarry in Dundas is quite an experience. The quarry opens it’s gates twice a year to rock-hounders and, because I’m a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Gem and Mineral Club, I was able to attend. Everyone met on a side road, and when I arrived and saw the seventy odd cars already there I was worried about all of us being crammed into the quarry. But after the safety talk we drove convoy-style into the quarry and that worry vanished. The quarry is huge! During the rest of the day I only saw five or so cars …
The LaFarge Quarry produces the most rock annually out of any mine in Canada. I really wanted to try and get across the scale of this place and the best thing I could come up with is the image above. I hope you’ll take the time to play with it. If you need an incentive to do so you can play a fun game called, “Find Christopher’s Car in the Quarry”. I drive a green VW Golf, and it is in the photo above (somewhere …).
I’ll write tomorrow about my time in the quarry, but for now: Have fun!
The last sample provided by Reiner Mielke from the Dundas quarry was of the mineral galena. Galena is a natural form of metallic lead sulfide, and herein lies my quandary … Lead. Is there any proper use for it?
Over the centuries it has ended up in some pretty questionable places. A history of lead could begin with that fact it was used to sweeten Roman wine and end with it being used as an additive to automobile fuel. Both of these uses are frankly hard for me to imagine and inappropriate because of their broad side-effects.
But, as I’ve thought about whether or not to use this sample, I’ve begun to realize that lead might legitimately have a different history as a pigment. I’ve used it before as a pigment, and I can attest to it being superior to modern whites in it’s properties, but historically it wasn’t just a better white, it was the only white.
I think that it is this historic identity that has especially interested me. Every major art-work in the West of the last two millennia has used this pigment. This can only be said about lead-white! The reds, yellows, blues, greens, and even the blacks, all differed, but the white is common. To me this is really amazing and worth participating in, at least a little bit.
So, in the end, I have decided to experiment with the galena from the Dundas quarry, but in order to be responsible in this decision I propose the two following guidelines: First, I will only be processing the amount of pigment needed to complete the project’s icon (which will probably end up being roughly a thimble-full). Secondly, my children will not be helping in this part of the project.
I guess this entire journal entry could be dubbed as a disclaimer, but this project is intended to be transparent so I wanted to present my thoughts and decision. Of course, if you have something to add, please place a comment on the article.