I just completed a special order, turning a fossil into a pendant on a necklace. Pictures of the finished piece will have to wait until I get approval from the commissioner, but I can talk about the process at least. This was a fossil created by permineralization, where the organic materials are replaced over time by minerals. In this case, the mineral was a silicate and the piece was now basically agate. An agate has a hardness of about 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale. SCIENCE!
In wrapping quartz crystals previously, I'd scratched the surface with the metal pliers I use, and I wanted to make sure this didn't happen, as the fossil I was working with was stunningly beautiful and also, well, not mine, so if I messed it up? Whoo boy!
Stores do sell special pliers with plastic tips that pop on, but I've tried them and thought they were pretty much rubbish. So I went to the hardware store and came home with a tin of Plastidip. There's both a spray and a dip variety available, and I got the dip.
I have one pair of round-nose pliers that I've used to death. The spring clips have fallen out of the handle, and I've actually put a crease in the metal, so these were my experimental guinea pigs. I did two dips, with a half hour period in between them, as per the directions. These directions also state to let the tool dry for 4 hours before using. I actually let them sit for 2-3 days because I got distracted by other things, but that couldn't have hurt anything! It worked beautifully, holding up to the wire while not marring the surface of the piece.
The dimples in the metal actually filled in with the dip. It'll be interesting to see how they hold up, although they'll be used only for detail work from now on and not in regular use for loop making, as the diameter is much wider now.
I'm now thinking the next use for the dip will be the tips of the wings I refurbished a few weeks ago.