Monday, February 24, 2014

Rough Stuff

Did you think I was all done with my Arizona haul?


Maybe I saved the best for last...

These look like spines to me.  But Jaynee, Ms. Masters in Anthropology, and archeological smarty-pants, assures me that its the whole creature, fossilized.  Cool.  The large tribolite is about 4 inches in length and weighty.  But so so cool.  I couldn't resist.

I couldn't resist these either.  
Mud cracked geodes.

The only two in the building.  Not exactly flat to bead around.  But I'll make them work.  Can;t you just imagine these in a black and white piece, with a touch of red cinnabar, maybe?

These?  This is your brain, on beady drugs.
Or, as the man in the bead store snobbily said: Are-age-o-nite.  (He's wrong, of course.)

I love these golden crystal formations, just going off in every which direction.  My brain, on beady drugs.  So sparkly.  And they'll be so cool, surrounded by matte seed beads.  Or maybe some onyx.

How cool are these obsidian pieces?  I love how mottled they are.

And these mica shards have so much texture.  Fragile as all get out.  But so striking.  Definitely going to mix one of these with some of the massive amount of pink quartz beads I bought.

This next cabochon reminded me of winter.  Not that I needed a reminder, mind you.  But, really, what a stunner.
I think this is a rough cut dendritic agate.  It's about 3 inches in length.  I'm going to keep this really simple, adding vintage pearls and quartz beads.

And now, for my favorites.  

Rough azurites.  They give me shivers.
Check out that texture!

Some of these are kind of crumbly.  But I think when reinforced with felt and suede, they'll be fine.

I'm not sure which of these I love more...
There's something so wild about these azurites.  So rocky.  Some of these will end up in oceany pieces.  Some will end up in desert pieces or Western pieces.  I'm on the hunt for a flying eagle to go with one of the pieces.

Most of the cabochons that we came home with were these rough pieces.  I also found rough Fordite and a fairy stone and amethysts and desert roses and lots and lots of ammonites.

And poop.
Dinosaur poop.  Both polished and rough.
I have a customer request for this poop, so don't mock.

On that note, I'm signing off.

To go play with poop.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I drove home on roads like this:

Screen shot from "Ice Road Truckers."
Only it was snowing and raining and blowing, as well.  On a major highway.  One lane, with four inches of slush.  So that every time a semi passed, my car was covered and I was blinded.

I fully expected her to show up, at any moment.

Goddess of Death
Now, I remain very aware of my own mortality.

This has been a brutal winter.  And a winter that I'm doing lots of driving in conditions that I normally can avoid.  On a highway that's known for frequent accidents.

Frankly, I'm scared.  

But it wasn't until the ice road trucking experience that I figured out why I was scared.  'Cause that morning I woke up thinking, "I'm going to die today."  And, I guess, in a way, I did.

My thinking has shifted.  I recognize how strong my will to live is and it's made me question what I'm living for.  If I'm fighting so hard to live (and driving 50 miles in THAT was a fight), what am I fighting for?

Am I living the life I want to live?  Am I doing the things that I want to do before I die, the things I feel I must do?  

Because, now, I know, I am not immortal.  

And I don't mean this is the doom and gloomy sense.  But the practical get-busy-living sense.  The ice road = my wake up call.  Which I'm going to pay attention to so that I don;t have to learn the lesson in a stronger way.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: The Jewelry Maker's Design Book

I'm a fan.

It's been awhile since I've invested in a basic jewelry book.  But this one: I approve.  Deryn Mentock's "The Jewelry Maker's Design Book."  is well-written, tasteful and funky.  She takes what is essentially junk and turns these into treasures.  Illustrations and directions are well-done.  There's the standard beginner information on supplies and tools, but the Journal Tips are great.  Interesting and helpful.  I love an insight into an artist's process.  Plus, I'm working with a design journal myself this year.

I love the sari and wire earrings she features.  And may FINALLY use some of my sari stash to make some earrings and bracelets.  

The book makes me anxious to be able to work in my bench space I set up in the garage.  Or, to bang away on metal at the picnic table.  Sigh.  That's a few months away yet.

Good book.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gracefully. Gorgeously.

"I don't want to look younger.  I want to look as great as I can at any age."

Words to live by.

I find myself drawn to images of stylish older women.  It's what I'm working to achieve for myself.  I've never been one overly tied to what I look like, paying much more attention to how I feel.  And, finally, after many years, I'm feeling stronger.  I'm walking more.  Apples taste better than ice cream.

It's not about losing weight or trying to fulfill some constructed beauty standard.  It is about feeling powerful and confident and unique.

So, when I'm buying clothes or designing jewelry or planning felt projects, I'm keeping my style goals in mind.

What are your style goals?

Friday, February 14, 2014


I don't often spend money on myself.  I buy books and beads and fiber, but I rarely buy myself a memory.

This year, I decided that I wanted something to remember Arizona by.  Yes, I'd enjoy working with all the lovely stones I'd buy.  I'd have the memory of shopping, of discovering treasure. The memory of being with friends.  And of enjoying the sun and warm of the desert.

But, I wanted a piece of jewelry that someone else made.

As we were leaving the Quartzsite PowWow, I saw this.  Instant attraction.  Turquoise, amethyst, and rutilated quartz with lots and lots of spirals.  

The seller, a handsome young man, was selling his wirework in order to get enough money to go home to Peru.

So, I helped him out.

And came home with TWO lovely pieces to remember Arizona by.
I love the copper that frames this African Amethyst.  And the piece looks like a blend of the sun and the moon to me.  

I'll use some of the gemstones that I got to make neck chains for these pieces.  And when I wear them, I'll remember a lovely visit with wonderful friends.

I'll also know that I'm practicing what I preach: treating myself like I have value.  Wearing gorgeous jewelry as an expression of who I am, in all my glory.

Happy Valentine's to me.  :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday

I interrupt this Wisdom Wednesday 

for a cat nap.

'Cause, really.  Isn't this the smartest thing to do when it's cold (-2 degrees) and snowy (almost 100 inches, so far) and sunny?
Snuggle on the bed (before I can make it) with your brothers and sister.

Truly wise, these cats.
Sammy.  AKA sweet and scaredy.  The youngest and the biggest.

Ricky.  The oldest.  Once the biggest.  Still the enforcer of proper cat behavior.  Hiding his blue eyes.

Sparky Doo Two.  Very much into creature comforts.

Rhea.  AKA Bits.  'Cause of the stubby tail and tiny size.
Big personality, though.

And, the wisest cat of them all?

Rosie, AKA Murder Mouth.
Who sleeps in her cat bed in the bathroom.
AKA the warmest spot in the house.
Rosie.  Not a fool.
Also a prime opportunist when it comes to positioning herself for belly rubs.

Smart, those cats.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sleeping Beauty

You didn't think I'd go traipsing off to Arizona and not bring home some turquoise, did you?

Ha.  Skylar's rule #1 of beading: there's no such thing as too much turquoise. 
And this is why...

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise.

So blue.  So true.

There was a tattered, battered old box at the bottom of a big stack of other rough stone pieces, holding about a dozen pieces of this Sleeping Beauty rough.  I grabbed the only pieces that could work in bead embroidery.  I do believe I sighed, deeply.  And maybe clutched them to my heart.  And maybe squealed.  'Cause the beauty...  To see this stone is to stand under the desert sky, in all its blue blue blue glory.

And, of course, that wasn't the sole turquoise purchase.  

These Carico Lake sets just fell into my clutches.  Honest.
 These will be so stunning as focals.  Not sure what I'll mix 'em with.  But I have some very very old Native American pottery shards that might be perfect.  (The pottery comes from the archeology lab at WMU.  They were going to throw them out, because provenience can't be determined.  Jaynee rescued them.)

I also picked up about two dozen other turquoise pieces.  Some are cheaper turquoise.  Some are dyed howlite, for those of us on a budget that still love the look of turquoise but can't afford Sleeping Beauty.

Check out these shapes:
The ovals have two holes.  How cool will these be, dropped from the bottom of a focal?

Okay.  My hands are itchy.  I must go play with my treasures.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Finally, I have a moment to post some pictures of treasures.



Oh, yeah.  Rocks!  Let's start with druzies.  'Cause druzies!

Last year, we found all sorts of raw, uncolored druzies.  This year, there weren't many available.  But we did find these lovelies.  I see these in really simple necklaces, as the stones surely don't need much embellishment.

Seraphinite!  Such a vibrant green, shot through with shiny white.  There's one larger piece here, with three medium pieces.  Pricey, but worth it.

Another pricey stone, charoite.  Stunning shades of purple.
I splurged on three medium sized pieces, one lavendar, the others of darker shades of purple.  Yummy.

The colors on these dendritic agates are just superb.  I think the largest one is going to end up as the focal for a necklace that has layers of ruffles, lavendar ruffles.  With pearls.

And...picture jasper.  See the tree in the bottom teardrop?  These are large pieces.  They'll make quite the statement.  I'm thinking at least one longer length necklace, accented by some lovely wood beads I picked up.  I can see the one in the upper left accented by amber chips, to pick up that hint of gold.

I'm not sure what the following are.  The store had them labeled as "Violet Stone" or Tiffany stone, neither of which I can find in my gemstone books.  Hmmm.
Whatever the name, I think they're stunning.  Purple and pale green and beige.  They make me think of orchids.  And butterflies.

The color on these coral cabochons is also lovely.  Check out the patterns.  If I can find a leopard, I'll match that pair up with his spots in a necklace.

Last, but not least in any way, these sets of fossil cabochons.  I think I can get two bracelets and two necklaces out of these sets.  And maybe a few small necklaces.  Lots to play with here.
I love how these are matched up, cut into mirroring designs.  While I don't often do the matchy-matchy, in this case, I might.

Especially with the arched set below.
I think some of my customers that like neutral shades will find these exciting.Who knows.  Maybe I'll be inspired to do a big splashy collar piece with these matching components.

All of these cabochons come from SunWest Silver, in Quartzsite.  Truly lovely people.  Gorgeous stones and absolutely stunning silver work.  And charms!  Oh, my.  Hundreds of charms in designs I've never seen anywhere else, not even online.

I'd post the web addy for SunWest, but they don't have an online site.  I think it's because they turn their stock over so quickly.  I mean, with stones like these, no surprise, right?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wednesday Wisdom

Many people don't know that Ms. Parks was a long-time civil rights activist, who was part of the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott.  As the secretary of Montgomery's chapter of the NAACP, Parks worked with Medgar Evars and Martin Luther King to bring awareness to civil rights issues.  

As a result of her arrest, Parks was fired from her job as a seamstress for a local department store.

She spent much of her later years as a resident of Detroit, Michigan, where she continued her activism.

You can read a more extensive biography of Parks here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Love Love Love

I've largely given up on reading for fun in the past few years.  As a graduate student, I read LOTS of books I have no interest in reading.Taking the time to read for fun makes me feel guilty.

Until I met Kate Shugak.


It's a 20 book series.  And some are better than others, but the writing is solid throughout.  The characters are engaging and real and so much fun to be involved in.  Written by Dana Stabenow, these books make me jealous.  I want to write books like these! 

The books take place in Alaska, a place I've never been interested in. (And not just because I'm not a fan of its famous lipstick on a pig, quit-before-her-term-is-up ex-governor.)  But now I'm fascinated by Alaska (and this winter has given me an understanding of the depth of snow).  

Mostly, I love Mutt.

I think "A Cold Day for Murder" is still available for free on Amazon.  Go check it out!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I'm trying

I am trying to find joy in winter.

But, honestly, I think it's buried in almost 100 inches of snow.

Between teaching and assisting and classes and writing and driving on really slippery, windblown roads, I'm barely keeping up with the shoveling.  Very little energy for anything else.  Haven't picked up a beady project since December!  Haven't even sorted through my Arizona purchases.

Soon.  I have picture-taking time scheduled for this week.  I WILL find my joyful!