Whoa, Nellie! If this doesn't grab your jewelry making attention, well...it should! I've been to the Tucson gem shows...I went, I saw, I conquered. Or, as my friend Ronnie would say..."I saw it and I wanted it!" That about sums it up for Tucson in February.
This will be a long post but I've got to give you my annual report...
Let's start out with our never ending quest for the best bacon in town. Here I am at The Oink with some of my gals...Ronnie and Diane. Don't you love that artwork?!
And...our girl Riki...
Let me tell ya'll...we can do some stone shopping!
So...Ronnie picked us up at the airport. We stepped off the plane and made a beeline straight for the booth of Gary B. Wilson. Do not pass go or stop at the hotel. Gary is helping me quell my varascite obsession.
And my leland blue obsession, although I tried to hold back on it, this year. From top left I've got ammonite and lapis. From bottom left: lapis druzy, leland blue and jasper.
Here's a close up of that amazing lapis druzy. Seems I got a little hungry for lapis, this year...
...which is why I picked up this lovely little lapis cabochon. The pyrite is pretty spectaular in this one.
Gary has the most amazing selection of stones, minerals and fossils. Here, I have, from left to right, reverse ammonite (that's the part of the stone the ammonite was embedded into), trilobite, opalized ammonite and pyritized ammonite.
And, he's super nice and knowledgeable. He can tell you about pretty much every one of them.
I got these gorgeous rhodochrosite cabs from him, as well.
So...there's that! Great stuff from Gary, as always!
But, there were lots and lots of other vendors and this year I discovered Italian Guy. I did end up visiting Italian Guy three times...not because he was tall and good lookin', but because he had really unique stones.
Yeah...that's what it was.
Italian Guy had some really cool stuff, including this stone that I'd never seen before, called Alurgite. As you can see from the sign, it comes from a closed mine in Italy, so it's somewhat a rarity. When Italian Guy told me that he had the only alurgite of the show, I didn't believe him but, after visiting a few more shows, I saw nothing else like this. Then I believed him!
Alurgite is a type of muscovite with manganese...which makes for the sparkly purple-y bits. It's hard to capture the beauty of it in a photo so you'll have to trust me on this...it's beauteous.
I did end up with quite a little pile of these...mostly just to hear Italian Guy count my cabs...in Italian.
It's always fun to hear someone count in a foreign language.
Italian Guy also had this fabulous agate set...
...as well as this stone that I'd never seen before called cobalto calcite, from Morocco. The color is natural, and it's fabulous.
I picked up a few other, assorted things from our dear Italian Guy, including these opalized ammonites...
...this handful of sizable and stunning rhodochrosite beads...
...and these interesting cabs. Left to right we have cavansite on host stone (stilbite?), fossilized coral, jasper and emerald.
The cavansite part of the white stone is that teensy, weensy blue speck. The white part of the stone is the host and I think it may be stilbite but I'm not sure. Cavansite is also a relatively rare stone. I just wish that speck were a bit bigger! Also, the emerald is pretty cool.
Like I said, Italian Guy had some interesting things that you don't see every day. Good stuff.
And then, there was Druzy Man. Who could resist this guy?
Not me, as it turns out.
I do have a very good reason for buying so many, though. I was only thinking of you, my students! The druzies you see in the above photos are what I'll be offering for my Basket Weave Bezel class, in Houston, at Adorn Me...end of April.
Of course, I had to pick up a few for my personal collection...
Drusy Man had an enormous pile of sparklies; I believe I dug through the whole thing. I was rewarded, though. I even found a couple of crosses in that pile!
Moving on...I could call this vendor Spiny Oyster Man but let's just call him Stamp Guy. Yes...he had a boatload of spiny oyster heishi.
He also had tables-full of these gorgeous spiny oyster shells, whole. They were stunning in the sunlight.
But, the very best thing that Stamp Guy had was...stamps. Loads and loads of hand carved metal stamps.
I got so excited when I saw these babies...I very nearly hyperventilated. Seriously.
And after that, it was a wild-eyed grab fest.
These punches are hand carved in the Gallup, New Mexico area. They're not particularly easy to find, which explains my insanity over them.
My friends, who weren't nearly as excited about Stamp Guy as I was, had to drag me kicking and screaming away from him.
My own clever guy, Wife Whisperer, has already corralled some of them for me. He fixed me up with an insert for one of my cigar boxes. Pull the handle in the center to pull the whole thing out of the box.
I'm so in love with my punches, I use any excuse to look inside that box. They're awesome. Seriously.
Onward to Turquoise Guy! I met up with this super nice guy who owns a turquoise mine. This lovely Blue Oasis is some from his mine.
Turquoise Guy had the most outstanding, high quality pieces. I got this Number 8 from him...
...and this incredible Royston...
...as well as this gorgeous Blue Moon turquoise. All of his cabs were backed and highly polished. Just so pretty.
Now we'll visit what I like to call Mexican Turquoise Booth. At Mexican Turquoise Booth, they have mostly turquoise from...you guessed it...Mexico. This nice green stuff is from the Campo Frio mine.
I realize that American Southwest turquoise is all the rage and, believe me, there's a reason for that. I love it too. But Mexican turquoise is just a little bit more affordable. And, it's equally as beautiful. In fact, this sky blue Campitos is one of my favorites, even of the SW turquoise. It takes a beautiful, glossy shine and has an incredible feel.
I happened across the one last Campitos cabochon in the whole booth....lucky me. Campitos sometimes has pyrite inclusions and this turned out to be a pretty amazing piece, loaded with pyrite.
For something a little different, I visited with African Guy. He was loaded down with various colorful vintage trade beads...rows and rows of them; French, Bavarian, Venetian, Czech and African. All kinds, all colors.
My favorites were these opalescent glass beads. The photo really doesn't do them justice but my, oh, my...how sweet they are.
From a vendor called Kia, I got some pretty amazing rough ruby disks, some scapolite crystals and some really amazing orange Kyanite. Orange kyanite is quite rare. I've been thinking about Kia's orange kyanite for an entire year as I passed on it, last time. No more wondering...I've got it in my hot little hands, now.
Another thing I thought about all last year because I passed them up: these drusy shells.
How divine are these? Pretty danged divine!
It's really difficult to choose a favorite but it might just be this one. It's almost completely agatized and has some amazing druse.
Or, it might be this one. It's huge. And sparkly.
These were traded for a considerable pile of clams...and I'm not talking about the shelled variety. They were costly but oh, so pretty. When you see them show up in my work, remember the pain they caused my bank account! (*wink!*)
Another pretty penny was dropped at the Carved Bone Booth. Carved Bone Booth had truly amazing things like these little seahorses, carved from one piece of moose antler
Moose...seahorse...what's not to love when you combine the two?
The detail is amazing. I picked up another little something that I'll have to show you later as it's a gift for someone special.
This was a little gift for myself. It's by the amazing carvers of Artifactual and designer, Lee Downing.
I also got some great French stuff from my friend, Riki.
Thank you for going to France, Riki. Thank you for letting me snoop through your French stuff. And buy a bunch of it. It's to-die-for.
Now, let's visit Cabachon Dude. I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with Cabochon Dude so will probably have to go back next year. Darn.
What I got from him was ocean jasper. These cabs were so good...not a bad one in the bunch...that even Cabochon Dude seemed surprised to see them.
I'm not a huge fan of the owl craze but I did get these carved ocean jasper owls, as well. They're just so darned cute, I couldn't resist them. Plus, I feel like some of my peeps might like them. Email me if you're interested.
So, are you worn out from this extra long post, yet? I've got a few more odds and ends to show you but I promise, you'll enjoy it!
How could you not? Just look at these outstanding ammonites. These small ones are very hard to find and these are very ridged. Extra nice!
Carved chrysoprase roses, anyone? They're so yummy, they look like candy.
How about some phantom quartz crystals and some druzy geode slices? I saw these quartz tips also called ghost quartz. It supposedly has some sort of special powers but I just like the way it looks. But that's just me. Practical to a fault.
I also like the way these sparkly slices look. These will make terrific pendants, no?
Herkimer diamonds...oh, how lovely these are! They're very clear. I picked these up at Swiss Guy's booth, after an agonizingly long check out process.
This isn't a great shot of the faceted iolite that I got from Swiss Guy but that dark blue strand, on top, is gorgeous. During the Endless Checkout, I visited the booth across the way and got those lovely kyanite (light blue), prehnite disks (green) and faceted garnet strand (red). Well, I had to do something while I waited!
I picked up this turquoise nugget strand...anyone know what kind of turquoise these might be? I have a suspicion that they're color treated but the woman I bought them from didn't really know anything about them.
They're really pretty but I rarely see anything this green...unless it truly is some older turquoise. In any case, I really liked it and that's a good reason to work with it. It has a wonderful feel, like the Campitos turquoise.
This was my last purchase from the very last show we visited. It was the Jogs show, which has a lot of various finished jewelry, a great tool booth (which I did get some stuff from) and then there was Bead Man.
When I spotted these turquoise strands at his place, I just started grabbing. And then I asked the price. And then I started putting strands back. They're Chinese turquoise so I felt like they might be less expensive than American turquoise. Uh... Bleh!
I started with the very substantial boulder strand (the one with the brown matrix). It reminds me of stars in the sky. After a brief discussion with Bead Man, I got discouraged, put it back and tried for a smaller strand. The middle strand had to be more reasonable. Again...bleh. Ok...what if I got them both? Turns out, buying things on the last day of the show, at the last possible minute isn't a bad strategy. Poor Bead Man...he may have just been trying to get us out of his booth but I ended up with a great grab. So good, I had him toss in the faceted strand. Live and learn.
Oh, yeah...I did do some teaching in Tucson. You can see my students amazing works in the previous post. I'll be returning to Art Retreat in the Desert...and the Tuscon gem shows...next year. I already have some amazing classes lined up, including a design class that you're going to love!
I'm thinking that my gem haul post for next year may not be quite this long. After all, I have a lot of work to do with what I have.