Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Victoria Stone

I recently had the pleasure of designing these two pendants for Mary Ann and Ralph of Stones That Rock. It is absolutely mesmerizing to look at, and by far the most chatoyant stone I have ever seen in person. They cut these stones and have them in their private collection. Designing with these stones was a wonderful experience.Until I saw the stones on their website, I had never encountered this stone before.
cabochon by Stones That Rock
Naturally, I wanted to know more about the stone so I researched it. The most comprehensive information I found on the stone was provided on Daniel Lopaki's website in an article for ROCKCOLLECTOR, the newsletter for the Rochester Lapidary Society, written by Greg Weisbrod, September, 2005.

cabochon by Danial Lopacki Co.
Late in the 60's Iimori Laboratory Ltd. of Tokyo Japan began to market a variety of imitation gem materials. Dr. S. Iimori produced some paste (lead glass) in different colors for faceting, also a cat's eye, "jade," and finally his masterpiece:

The chatoyant Victoria stone in 16 different colors. 
 cabochon by Danial Lopacki Co.
This material was advertised to be a melt of various natural minerals that had reconstructed into a new mineral and cooled for months under 2000 pounds pressure. The melt mass then partially devitrified forming chatoyant fan-like sprays of crystal fibers.
cabochon by Danial Lopacki Co.
 Ideally the fibers would interlock, similar to those that give nephrite jade its toughness. Unfortunately, this did not occur. The glass matrix of the "boules" developed severe internal strains much similar to unannealed glass.

The mass looked like a fat carrot, weighed about five pounds and sold for $20.00/lb. Instructions cautioned you to carefully grind the white rind from the "boule" so as to relieve the strain. You must also take extreme care not to overheat the material in cutting, doping, or polishing. You could also purchase a ready-made cabochon from the company.

cabochon by Danial Lopacki Co.
 To protect his market, the 84-year-old Dr. Iimori did not patent his process, instead preferring to keep it a secret even from his family. When he passed away they did not continue the operation and the company went bankrupt in 1985.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stones That Rock!

Ralph and Mary Ann Sieler are the heart and soul of Stones That Rock. They started their business just a couple years ago, and do beautiful lapidary work. I met them on Flickr, and they have been so wonderful in helping educate me about gemstones I am not familiar with. Most recently, I made this pendant with a lovely Deschutes Jasper cab they cut. Ralph and Mary Ann live in Arizona and specialize in stones found in the west, such as turquoise and variscite. However, they also work with many types of jasper and agate, lapis, dino bone, and exotics such as mtorolite (chrome chalcedony) and Victoria Stone. Their work is outstanding and their prices are reasonable. I have many cabochons of theirs waiting to be made into beautiful jewelry. All of the cabochons in the previous two posts are from their collection, and I now own. Above and beyond their talents, Ralph and Mary Ann are just lovely folks... two of the nicest people I have met online.
If you are interested in purchasing some cabochons, slabs, or rough from them, visit Stones That Rock.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Creating with a handicap...

I am not talking about being permanently handicapped amd being creative. I am talking about when something changes either with your body, or your environment that makes it impossible to do the creative work you normally love to do.
I have spent the better part of a week feeling sorry for myself because I can't make jewelry or practice cello (or swim, or do many other things I like to do). I am an artist and a maker. I have to always be making something. I can't just sit around and wait.
 My left arm is in a cast because of massive over-strain with tendinitis. My doctor said absolutely NO to any of the creative things I normally do and to try to minimize how I use my left hand and arm while at work. I could hardly stand it. I am thinking to myself, "I can't all. I don't plan my designs, so there would be no point in forcing myself to do that." It seemed like I had no options.
Then, I thought, photography! Yes! I'll take pictures. I know very little about photography, but manage to do a decent job taking pictures of my jewelry. So, for now and the forseeable future, taking pictures is how I am going to express myself.
And if anyone has any ideas of artistic things I can do mostly one handed, please let me know. It is looking like I may be wearing this cast much longer than the two weeks the doctor first recommended. Also, I am using PhotoFiltre to edit my photos. If there are any online tools that are free to use, that you think would be fun for me to try, please send me the links!
And a word to anyone else going through something like this. There are always going to be ways to create. You just have to find them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Artist thoughts....

More random ramblings to provoke thought and insight about your creative endeavors....

Invest yourself in the process, not the outcome. Why do I say this? It is the process where all of the learning happens. Know the process intimately. Be observant. Be mindful of how mistakes or accidents occur in your work, and make a deliberate attempt to approach that task differently. Love the materials you are working with and explore all their properties. All of these things will improve the outcome, and the journey will be much more meaningful.

Is it remarkable? Is what you are making worthy of a remark? How is what you are creating going to stand out from the crowd? What are you doing that others aren't doing? What is the outstanding quality of your work? If there is no outstanding quality, ask yourself why? Are you afraid to step out and walk through uncharted territory? Do you feel you don't have the skill (yet)? Do you say, "I can't come up with anything?"
I say, yes you can. If you truly enjoy what you are doing, why would you carry around "I can't" statements, placing your own limits on your creativity?

Whimsy matters. Why? Because I said so... Which aspects of your own work matter the most to you? What creative part, if taken away from your work, would take away your look or your vision? Have you spent time thinking about how that aspect could be drawn out and further explored in your work? Is this the defining aspect that would make your work "remarkable"?

The only way to do great work is to do what you love. Do you love what you are doing? Life is short. Are you wasting time doing things that you don't care about? What really matters? What journey are you on? Ask yourself, "Is this a/the journey I want to take? Realize that your actions are always a choice. Is your life better for the actions you take? Or are you on a journey that is destructive to yourself and others? Have you decided to savor life and appreciate what you have? Or are your decisions motivated by fear and anxiety? If your fears are valid and justified, is living in constant worry, stress, and panic helping the situation? Remember, we choose to worry and stress out. If you feel that is the only path to doing what you love, is it worth it? Are you content? Have you involved yourself with people or projects that are going to drag you down? Are you seeking out work that you are excited to do? Are you taking the time to fill your creative tank? Getting enough rest? How are you spending your time? Are you working toward anything at all, or are you in a holding pattern. Consider these things and ask yourself if you need to adjust your thinking or your actions. These things have everything to do with how and what we create.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cherry Creek Jasper

My newest love in gemstones....Cherry Creek Jasper. It's colors and patterns are almost endless. Every piece is unique, inspiring all kinds of design possibilities...

Cherry Creek jasper is metamorphic limestone, Metamorphosis is one of the three ways stones are formed (the other kinds of stones are igneous and sedimentary).

Geologically, a metamorphic stone forms deep in the earth, its essential nature altered by heat and pressure. It may go through metamorphosis more than once, and each time new elements are added to its composition. Only those aspects of the stone which are impermeable to pressure and heat are preserved.

Cherry Creek jasper is 6.0- 7.0 on the Moh's Hardness Scale, and predominantly mined in Utah.
 Of the metamorphic stones, the patterns of Cherry Creek jasper are particularly striking, and one may see them as maps (in whatever natural or polished shape it occurs) of the crystal's transformational path.

Sunday, January 17, 2010's still winter!

Snowed In... It has been snowing and frigid, and snowing and blowing, and snowing and fogging, and snowing and icing for better than three weeks now. I think I speak for most folks in the Midwest when I say that most of us feel like we have been snowed in. I have a large picture window in my living room, and mocha brown walls. I look out that window and all I see is ice and snow. This piece was inspired by that now, overly familiar view from my sofa. Snow and trees looking north from my front yard. Nothing but white, articulated by naked trees. Slow Thaw... This past week we finally had high temperatures above 32 degrees. And slowly, the streets and sidewalks are beginning to show their wet surfaces as the snow thins out on well traveled roadways and paths. The snow is still everywhere, but we are full of cheer as we see just a little of what is hiding under the snow. Yes, it's mud puddles and dead grass... but it is much more tolerable. Today, I even saw sunshine! Dried out ornamental grass in my parents' front yard. The pot it's in is completely covered by a foot of snow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Even though it is snowing in Kansas....

I am inspired by ocean life. I am dreaming of beaches and warm weather... fishes and coral... sand between my toes, and NO snow shoveling! I have always been inspired by the beauty that the ocean holds, so it isn't surprising that I am continuing to produce work that reflects my love and interest in it. Image above, taken by Flickr member Stephane Bailliez, all rights reserved. This piece is titled "Manta", it's shape inspired by the Manta Ray. These next two are custom pieces which I have not titled yet, but are equally influenced my ocean life. Both are made of fossilized coral. Image above, taken by Flickr member SymbioticService San Diego, all rights reserved.Image above, taken by Flickr member Erwin Poliakoff, all rights reserved.For now, this is what it looks like in Kansas... On these cold, cold days, I am dreaming of California....