Apache Tears. There are many legends credited with how Apache tears got their name. Some involve the U.S. Army and volunteers hunting down a band of rouge Apache warriors and killing them. One legend says that the warriors jumped off a cliff to their death to keep from being killed by the “white man” and that their bones were imbedded in the cliffs. Another legend states that it was two feuding bands of Indians, one Apache, who fought and killed each other off.
It doesn’t matter which legend you start with. They all seem to end with the wife’s and loved ones grieving for their lost men. Their grieving was so horrible that their tears were petrified, solidified, or preserved as brown transparent drops of glass by the Earth Father.
These legends all form around the Apache from Pinal County, Arizona.
The legend of the Apache tears forming from tears has given way to a more practical genesis. They are obsidian that has formed in white or clear glassy rhyolite. They are abundant in many places, but the most prolific and famous is those from Superior, Arizona where they have been mined with large front-end loaders and hauled by dump trucks.
Good Apache tears look black but when hold up to the light they are really translucent smoky brown. The ones from Utah are almost solid black and opaque.
Because they are a type of glass they are very difficult to tumble. Many tumbling experts consider them the most difficult stone to tumble. But there are some tricks…
First step is to tumble them in step 1 (60/90 grit) for 5 days and then step 2 (120/220) for 5 days.
Then tumble them in pre polish for 3 to 5 days.
It’s the polishing step that is different. Load the barrel like you would with the stones, add CLEAN plastic pellets, Tin Oxide! and instead of water use corn syrup. Don’t add any water.
Run them this way for about 5 days and then start checking them every day until you have that wet-gloss look on them. It can take up to 10 days in the polish.