Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NOV 2- Gum diggers

I'm telling you, there is a history lesson around every bend in this country. (I guess that can be said of any country, but I'm in this one right now)
I've heard of the term Gum Digger but never knew what it or they were. Seems the main industry on NZ in the 1800 was Kauri Gum, used to make varnish and later on to make linoleum .
Kauri Gum is called Kauri Amber although it is not as old as  "real" amber, it is just as beautiful. Most Kauri gum is only about 60,000 years old.
Like all amber it starts out as sap, the blood of the tree...Over thousands and millions of years it hardens into an amber stone that can be cut and polished. Very often you can find bugs and ferns that were stuck in the sap while still soft and then hardened as years passed.
When some natural disaster pushed thousands of Kauri trees into swap land, the sap bled from the broken trees and hardened in the swaps. Gum diggers made a living walking the swamps  in heavy "gum" boots, probing with long sticks to find gum. It was a rough way to make a living, thats for sure. Most of the gum is Copal or sub-fossilized Amber. The Maori call it KAPIA.
This is what the gum looks like un-polished. You can actually smell the resin.
Once polished it takes on a natural warm glow. It is no longer used in the making of varnish and is pretty much used for jewelry.
Early Gum diggers were so hungry for the sap, that they would often cut the tree at the root so it would bleed. Between that and the English  stripping the forest for the beautiful wood, it is no wonder the Kauri tree is so protected now. My research tells me that "base gum" can still be found in the Coromadel area. A peninsula here in NZ....Hmmmm now where do we find Paua? Stay tuned...Oh and I have worked on that table, in between checking out more interesting things LOL

More polishing is necessary, but the crackle worked beautifully and the natural wood top is just stressed enough to be interesting. The "Shabby Chic" look worked. We are rather happy with it...especially me LOL
(What? You think because I'm on vacation, I'm not going to play?)

No comments:

Post a Comment