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Lapidary Focal Beads

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Goo, Goo G'joob!

I recently got 4+ pounds of fossil walrus ivory delivered to my studio by a little old lady who wants me to cut it and sell it for her! It belonged to her late husband and he got it years ago (from the same dealer I always get mine) and he dabbled in cutting it, but mostly just sliced up the tusks into 1/4" slices, which is perfect for my work! About half of it is in slices of tusks and half is polished teeth that I'm going to drill. I've always loved ivory and have worked a LOT of ivory in the past and I know a lot about it, but I haven't had any rough for several years. Fossil ivory from walrus and mammoth is perfectly LEGAL to buy, work, sell, and wear! NO modern mammals are harmed in the collection of this ivory. It is dug up, mined, and collected, in Alaska and Siberia. It is NOT HUNTED. You can enjoy this material with confidence that no animal died this millenium to provide us with this beautiful organic gemstone! So when I got all this stuff, I was so excited I had to lay it all out and get my picture taken with it!

Bumble Bee

Check out the Bumble Bee jasper rough that I scored at the Portland Regional Gem & Mineral show recently! Sulfur and orpiment are responsible for the brilliant yellows and oranges. It forms in a fumarole at the base of a volcano in Java. Not a true jasper, actually a travertine, but it's strong, stable, natural, and takes a great polish! Reliable sources say the mining of lapidary rough is closed now (the site filled with hot water from the fumarole!) and nearby material that is mined is ground up and shipped to China for high tech industrial uses. Here's some of the rough...

Picasso Marble

Picasso Marble is a really wonderful stone that was first mined in Utah. I cut these using rough material from the big NEW find in China that is noted for it's brick red, forest green and other unique colors. I got ONE chunk of the Chinese rough when I was in Quartzite in January 2011. Not much rough leaves China, for obvious reasons. This material is NOT to be confused with the original find of "PICASSO JASPER" that is from Utah. The UTAH Picasso "Jasper" is really beautiful but it is in shorter supply and has mostly just black, grey, brown, and tan colorings in it that make it distinctive from the Chinese material. The Chinese material is also called "Cherry Creek Jasper" by American lapidaries, but "Picasso Jasper" is used 70 times as often to describe this stone (trust me, I did the eBay searches and I know what I'm looking at!). The rough chunk that I got was very porous and I have heard from a trusted gem dealer friend of mine that much, if not most, of this material coming out of China is treated or stabilized to make it be able to take a polish. I understand why they do this, but I prefer to leave my beads with a satin matte finish rather than soak them in a resin or a urethane just to make them shiny.
Ecclesiastes 3:5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
I've loved rocks and sparkly things and ornaments forever. I started cutting stones when I was 10 (over 30 years ago!) and started silversmithing when I was 12. I've been a full time lapidary for about 15 years now but quit the silversmithing back in the early '90's. My work went from mostly freeform cabochons to mostly beads as I started really focusing on drilling stones. I'm known as a "rogue lapidary" because while my work is mostly in "semi-precious" gemstones, I also work in non-traditional materials like bowlerite, fordite, vaseline glass, and other odd treasures I can get my hands on!