Tag Archives: wire wraps

Blue Beyond the Sea

1539-cu-lapis

A piece of lapis with a wire work bail I made to echo its pyrite sparkles.

 

Lapis is sometimes considered a secondary birthstone to sapphire. That’s probably due to its brilliant blue color, and the fact that through the middle ages the word sapphire was used pretty loosely!

 

 

Lapis is a vibrant blue stone consisting of lazurite and usually pyrite and sodalite as well as a host of other minerals. It’s the pyrite that gives lapis its midnight sparkle of stars.

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Royal Purple

Amethyst from Erte’s Precious Gems Suite

Amethyst is the traditional birthstone for the month of February.

 

(I remember being jealous as a kid, since there were purple stones for February but October always got something pink instead of opal or even fake opal!)

 

Iron impurities in quartz give amethyst its wonderful purples-from pale lilac to royal.

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To look at things in bloom

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now…”

A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

 

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

 

rhodochrosite-tree

I’m cheating a bit, since his cherry blossoms are white. Right now white on trees is a little too much like snow. The cherry I watch every year (a little nervously the past two-the recent winters have left it very bent and twisted) has pink blooms. Light with darker centers, as if they’d been white but stained with cherry juice!

 

I’ve made pink pearl trees to try to get the feel of cherry blossoms, but I haven’t found any small enough to please me. I’m perpetually on the prowl for deep enough rose quartz, but this fall I stumbled on another option for cherry blossom pink stone chips. It’s called rhodochrosite.

 

In its pure form rhodochrosite is nearly rose red. The name comes from the Greek for rose and coloring. Its more common forms are pink and light brown, sometimes grey. Rhodochrosite gets its color from manganese, and the more calcium replacing the manganese the paler it is.

 

Rhodochrosite is fairly soft; it has a Mohs hardness of 3.5-4. That’s one reason it’s rarely faceted, and when it is it’s normally the purer red form for collectors. This does mean that it can be carved into wonderful figures and turned into decorative boxes. I think I first saw the stone with its banding on boxes rather than jewelry. The downside is that it isn’t a good gemstone for rings, and possibly not for bracelets, depending how tough you are on them.

 

It seems to form near silver mines. First it was found in Romania, then later banded stalactites were found in an old Incan silver mine in Argentina. They’d been forming since the mines were abandoned in the 1300s. Argentina is still the principal source of banded rhodochrosite, which is why rhodochrosite is sometimes called rosinca or Inca Rose.

 

The manganese content makes it difficult to refine silver ore so miners used to just dump the rhodochrosite. (*cringe*) Then collectors realized what was being lost!

 

Now it’s Argentina’s national gemstone, and also the state mineral of Colorado.

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Artisan Haiku

You guys all know I’m guilty of the occasional haiku.

 

Another wire worker on etsy found me, and I found out that they’d done a haiku that sums up wire wrapping brilliantly:

 

Tedious wirewrap
Painstakingly intense task
Lowers blood pressure

D. Kanester

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And Rocks Falling…

My new Gibeon meteorite pendant in copper.

A short addendum to my earlier meteorite intros.

 

I just finished wrapping my last piece of meteorite a few days ago. So meteorites were already a little on my mind when I went to a small mineral society show and picked up some tektites. I thought they’d make fun earrings to go with a meteorite pendant. (Otherwise the show was a bust.)

 

Tektites are small, unprepossessing black stones with an unusual texture and unique origin.

 

“Tektites are terrestrial rock melted and flung into the atmosphere by the force of an asteroid or comet impact.” Nicely summed up on http://tektites.co.uk/

 

They’re natural glass of a kind with a high silica content and extremely low water content. The shape was determined by how far the melted rock was thrown into the atmosphere before re-entry. These guys are the most normal type-splash form. They are rounded shapes that range in size from millimeters to centimeters. The shapes are the result of the ground at the impact site being molten or vaporized and ejected from the site of impact and thrown thousands of kilometers away.

 

The ones I picked up are from what is called the Australasian strewn field. That is the largest, and newest one known. The impact struck around 800,000 years ago, and the strewn field covers at least 10% of the planet’s surface. No one knows where the primary event occurred.

tektites

 

One kind of wild (scary) fact is that tektites from this field have been found with stone axes in southern China, showing that early humans must have been alive and active in that region when the object fell.

 

Can you imagine? Besides the destruction and likelihood of mass deforestation…It’s scary enough to think of something like that happening when you know what is going on, but to have no idea, a sudden boom, mass destruction and then a rain of small rocks?

 

Since people sometimes misinterpret/misrepresent these-just to reiterate, tektites are *not* meteorites, they are made from earth disturbed by an extraterrestrial impact.

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(Un)earthly Color

I fell for jacaranda trees when I saw them live for the first time this Spring. They belong in more tropical climes then I do, so I’d only seen them in pictures.

 

I’d been told in the past that my amethyst tree looked like a jacaranda, but when I saw them in person I though they looked carved from tanzanite. (And thus upon my return the hunt for appropriate gems!) I stumbled on this lovely poem when I was looking up the jacaranda for color checks:

 

 

A Jacaranda Tree

Ann Beard

 

 A Jacaranda tree stands tall, and sways as if to say,

Look! At this magnificence, I’m wearing blue today.

forgive the way I shout aloud, my lack of modesty,

but nowhere in this troubled world is finery like me.

 

Light rays slide between each leaf, to settle on the tips

to lightly kiss your face with a hundred million tiny lips.

You only have to lift your eyes to greet the filtered sun

a sight I guarantee will warm the heart of everyone.

 

Though very tall, my leaf is small, its form is one of fern,

large panicles of bluebells swell to trumpet unconcern.

A Bee collecting nectar from an ample deep white throat,

takes flight to join its family, and of its feast to gloat.

 

Look up to see each fern like leaf, floating up on high,

like footprints of a centipede that stroll across the sky

See how far my branches reach, admire their greenery,

so beautiful and strong, I am the Jacaranda tree.

 

When I got home I started puttering with colors to make a jacaranda tree pendant. Alone the tanzanite looked a little too cold, so I mixed in amethyst for warmth, added labradorite for a flash of blue and peridot for a hint of greenery. I think the tanzanite still firmly holds center stage though!

 

Tanzanite is a rare blue/purple/violet gem only found in Tanzania. (Generally it looks more sapphire blue in natural light and more purple in artificial light.) It’s actually much rarer than diamond.

 

Tanzanite is a blue form of zoisite. In 1967 miners discovered some beautiful translucent violet stones while mining for graphite. It gained its trade name of Tanzanite from a marketing campaign by Tiffany & Co. They wanted to emphasize its rarity didn’t think it would sell under the name blue zoisite.

After the first bout of blue stones the trail ran out. All miners found were russet and khaki colored zoisites. They sent samples for study to the same German company that had handled the original gems. The samples were tested, and it was discovered that heating those brown stones to over 700 degrees got rid of the browns and yellows and turned them into the striking blues.

 

At this point it is pretty much assumed that any tanzanite on the market has been heat treated. Since this is a known practice, it isn’t considered a cheat.

 

(When trying to figure out the best colors to describe the stone I was looking color names up online. I think of violet as purple towards the blue end of the spectrum, which it is…but apparently web violet is a from of magenta. Who knew? And who knows why? Why not just call it pale magenta?)

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Growly face and dougnuts

Spiderweb obsidian, like most semi precious stones, shows infinite variation. I love it because even though it isn’t fancy like a diamond, unlike a diamond, each one is unique. Which is also why I can identify the ones taken from me, even if the fact that I know my own wirework and can provide dated photographs isn’t enough…

I know this isn’t even a blip in the radar of things that really matter, but I’m vibrating between tired anxious and annoyed right now and can’t focus on anything useful. (And my wire jacaranda trees are not behaving, I’m running out of stones and can’t get it *just right*)

Feel free to skip, I’ll try to have something fun and fuzzy up shortly.

In May I had some pendants on consignment with a shop whose tent at Brimfield was robbed during the night. (He only brought his most expensive pieces home, I will confess annoyance that he left pieces that weren’t even really his to leave behind..) My pieces were amongst the pieces stolen. When the shop owner finally told me (a few weeks after the event and one day before I was leaving on vacation) I tried to email pictures of some of the pieces to the police. Never heard back, didn’t really expect to.

I was shopping Brimfield with my mom today and I found two of those pieces being sold in another tent.

I failed at not reacting, and my mother really failed and started asking the dealer questions. He said he got them at auction and wouldn’t tell me where or what or whose auction, claiming he didn’t keep records of that kind of thing.

I wasn’t sure what to do and just had to walk away. Another dealer who saw me upset told me to call the cops.

With the help of some very nice people I eventually managed to reach the police, who over the phone pointed out that I couldn’t prove the pieces were one of a kind.

They’re hand made-I couldn’t make exact copies of the wire frames even if I try-so chances are pretty good no one else could make an exact replica either. Plus each stone has a pretty unique pattern- one cut gem might look like any other cut gem of the same type, but cabs tend to have designs unique to them, especially the freeform ones I use. One stone was a spiderweb obsidian, and I’ve not found another with a similar pattern. I’d been looking to replace this stolen one. The other was an orthoceras, so being a once living thing it too is near unique in its exact formation. The orthoceras I’ve a photo of, with other wraps by me, posted on my site almost exactly two years ago.

This guy was also pretty unique. Besides my wrapping style, it’s a fossil of an ancient squid sort of creature, and there tends to be some variation in individual fossils. I know the one I saw today was this one, stolen from me in May.

However, an officer did come, but by the time we got to the tent the man had suddenly packed up for an unnamed auction in Connecticut and his belligerent friend was packing up because he had a wake to go to. There was no permit that I could see to give any identification or number, and all the friend would say was that the man’s name was either Bill or Bob. As said, the officer was nice to me, but didn’t seem to make any effort to look for the missing permit or call the guy on it, let alone make him give up the name of his partner. (Or even give his own name.)

So I was given a badly photocopied incident report which I have to fill out and bring back tomorrow (since apparently email and fax aren’t options) plus find a way to print decent copies of my digital photos.

What’s also kind of classic is that he was selling the coated copper piece (which I had labeled as such) as sterling silver by weight. I guess it’s like my father says, once dishonest, always dishonest…

I know it’s pretty irrational, but this really ruined the show for me.

So many people there are really nice, but it isn’t fun anymore. I’ve been going (often all three shows) practically every year since I could walk. I used to love rummaging through all the stuff in the hopes of finding broken bits and bobs to work into my jewelry. Before it hit the fan today I got some fun old coins to wire wrap. Less on the rummage side, I’m also working on collecting antique books.

(Okay, that sounds more highfalutin than it really is. I’m a sucker for turn of the century fairy tale illustrations, so I collect those.

Mostly Arthur Rackham, a little Edmund Dulac.)

Now whenever I rummage I’m a) worried that its through things stolen from somebody else and b) half looking through the silver to see if I see any more of my pieces. It didn’t feel like a rusty treasure hunt anymore. So I treated myself to an apple cider doughnut and went home.

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A Sparkle from a Moonstone

Sheer blue moonstone.

I love so many different types of stones that choosing a single favorite would be like choosing a favorite dessert-totally impossible. Sometimes you want chocolate, others ice cream, or perhaps it’s fresh fruit you’re craving…

Moonstone is one of my favorites.

It’s a type of feldspar, like labradorite (another favorite of mine). Feldspars are a family of silicates that make up about 60% of the earth’s crust. Large parts of the moon’s crust are composed of feldspars too.

Moonstone is one of the traditional birthstones for June, along with alexandrite and pearl.

Moonstone has a beautiful shimmer-called adularia-the traditional color is blue, and the nearly clear moonstone with that ghostly rich blue is especially highly valued. There is also grey moonstone and peach-both have a soft white shimmer, and rainbow, which normally is a white or white/clear base with many different colors. The colors come about because the stone’s structure is layered, and those layers refract light at different angles. (Like a built-in faceting system!)

A rainbow moonstone piece with peridot.

Moonstone sterling and gold fill pendant

A newer moonstone pendant. They’re tough gems to photograph. The shimmer of this is more on the purple side of blue in most lights. You can also see the spiral from the back through the translucence of the stone.

I like working with rainbow moonstone because of the gorgeous range of colors. The whole rainbow really will appear in some pieces. I also like the fact that each stone will have its own unique pattern of shimmer and color play.

It is a comparatively soft stone. It has a Mohs hardness of 6, which makes it softer than quartz or garnet (though harder than opal) and more easily scratched. I try to avoid the temptation of moonstone rings, since those take the most knocks.

(Title from Cat Steven’s Moonstone.)

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Nightingales

I saw these cards and had to make some pendants out of them. I love the imagery of open cages, capture and freedom and the shadowy escaping birds.

 

It reminded me of the Hans Christian Andersen story. Here, illustrated by the wonderful Edmund Dulac. I suspect that the edition I had as a child edited out some of Andersen’s attitude towards non western culture, because I do not remember the Chinaman this and that…Sometimes rereading children’s stories is an odd experience. (Though I do remember rabidly disliking his treatment of the little mermaid!)

Through thinking of that story, once nightingale is in my head it brings me to John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. The main site has images of the original manuscript, complete with some corrections and false starts. I love seeing the progression of things!

 

From Ode to a Nightingale:

 

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

  What thou among the leaves hast never known,

The weariness, the fever, and the fret

  Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,

  Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;

    Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

          And leaden-eyed despairs;

  Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,

    Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

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On Paleoart

play with wire, precious

metals and watercolors

touch of the brush–salt

and paint diffuse in water

dreaming of vast ancient seas

 

I don’t have the widest range of hobbies. I like to play with photography and go for long walks/low impact hikes (I’m not a fan of heights; last time I was on a proper up mountain type of hike to look out over a waterfall my friends had to peel me off of a tree after a panic attack), but I don’t really live in an area where I can do that alone (or at night) safely.

 

So I mostly make things. Neither wire work nor sewing are particularly easy on the wrists. Add to that a job with a lot of time spend on the computer and shelving heavy objects and my wrists are a bit of a disaster.

 

But I get so *bored* when I can’t type or make things, and reading is never as much fun when it’s my only option for entertainment. So awhile a go a friend had suggested painting might be a lower impact kind of creative project.

 

Great idea in theory, didn’t work out in practice. I don’t do abstract so well, but honestly don’t have the patience for proper depth and the degree of detail I want (and detail=still rough on wrists) so I kind of fell into paleoart. I had a nice notebook with watercolor paper and decided that it would be a dig journal for a steampunk character I was creating. For practice I started making artist trading cards with different fossils, or imaginings of what they would have looked like alive. Some are the fossils you’ve seen on here in my jewelry: ammonites and orthoceras.

 

I also tried to play with crinoids (a class of echinoderms–distant cousins of starfish and sand dollars–their name means lily form) and some of the critters from the Burgess Shale. (Go to the website, that’s a hike I’d love to do, and the song cracks me up.) Those animals are actually pretty tough to get a handle on.

 

The Burgess shale is a fossil field dating from the mid Cambrian (much earlier than the ammonites or the brachiopods I was showing before, about 500 million years ago). It is known for having a wide range of fossils of soft bodied bottom dwellers.

 

They were an odd looking lot (to modern eyes at least). It was sort of like life was trying out all these different forms and directions and saw which ones survived and which thrived. But they’re really fun to doodle. Like a combination of dragons and the children of elder gods with a bit of really cranky sea urchin thrown in. One illustrator on deviantart did a fantastic homage to the six classic species of the Cambrian explosion.

 

The Natural History Museum (London) has a really nifty 3-D model of an anomalocaris that you can move around. And see why it’s such a hard critter to figure out! They also have a 3-D model of an ammonite fossil and the inside of a brachiopod on the menu next to the anomalocaris.

I had some small scraps of watercolor paper where I was pleased with the crystal bursts and didn’t want to throw them out, so that led me to making even tinier watercolors to set behind glass cabochons to wire wrap for pendants. (Probably reaching the pinnacle of nonmarketable jewelry, I’m afraid. But I do enjoy making them.)

 

So, vacation for joints was pretty much a fail, and I’m not very good at watercolor. But I fancy I get some good depth in my paintings of shells. And people keep calling my ammonites cute. I’m not sure how to take that…

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