To oil or not to oil


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Every book I have consulted about suiseki recommends treating the stones with oil in order to develop a satin/semi-gloss "patina." Some recommend mineral oil, others recommend daily rubbing to infuse with natural hand oils, still others, rubbing with nylon (pantyhose) to infuse with the petroleum-based oils from the nylon.

But these books are not the most up to date. I'm pretty sure that the newest one I've referenced is Willi Benz's Suiseki (2000). Now, when I google this question I see a lot of very strong internet opinions about how oiling stones "ruins" them, and lamenting the damage done to decades of outstanding stones. The holders of these opinions tend to recommend practicing "yoseki" -- putting the rock on a bench and watering it daily. For years.

On the other hand, there is Sakurai Toshio who is refreshingly open about his carving techniques (including sandblasting, and oiling/waxing). PDF: Enhancing the Stone, Part Two, Sakurai Toshio, Japan’s Leading Professional Stone Carver, by Thomas Elias and Hiromi Nakaoji, (BCI Magazine, October/November/December 2016, pp. 30-37). I also know enough about lapidary/rock collecting techniques to be dangerous, and theorize that the any of the "daily rubbing" techniques are really just gentle (slow) polishing, and that "natural oils" like skin oil are likely to break down/yellow in a way that may be less than attractive over time.

I have no stones of any value beyond sentimental. But I'd like to treat them "right" while helping them look their best -- ideally without spending years pouring water over stones that have already been exposed to the elements for millennia. What say you nutters... will I be cursing myself in 20 years if I decide to short cut with some real abrasives and inert oils?


Imperial Masterpiece
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West Indies [ Caribbean ]
As a Chinese Scholar,

the idea was to hold the stone in your hands and feel your
ideas / memories.
This would inspire you to write, paint, carve etc.

The world within the stone.

The stones were kept in individual wooden boxes.
Passed on and cherished.

At most a rubbing in walnut oil, very thin coat.
Gives a soft lustre, as would skin oil.
Lovingly touching a beloved.

There are several stones here from the beach.
Also 10 lbs gifted to my brother -in- law from an IBC-er
in California / Oregon.
Good Day

* During China's revolution, the Schulars threw their stones
into the garden, to protect them from theft or damage.

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