Have Beads Will Travel

Posted by Rebecca Stone on June 23, 2010
Jun 232010

Bits of fluff from cottonwood trees drift on the breeze in between cloudbursts as I trudge up the gravel drive from the barn. I am at my sister’s house in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, horse sitting and looking after cats (both tame and wild), while she and her husband are in Washington, D.C. (the jetsetters!). They just bought this house, and, thanks to a few upgrades, the place — though built in the ’20s — seems quite new. Heck, it’s almost like staying at a fancy country vacation rental. A nice escape from L.A. for me.

I'm loving composing smaller crystals and stones (like the tourmalinated quartz on the top tier) into dangly pendants. It's fun to layer them and wear three — or more — at a time.

I'm loving composing smaller crystals and stones (like the tourmalinated quartz on the top tier above and the aragonite and amazonite rounds to the right) into dangly pendants. It's fun to layer them and wear three — or more — at a time.

It’s also a great place to make jewelry. I must have hauled about 20 pounds of beads along with me. With the house to myself, I can spread out all my beads, wire and findings, and not have to put anything away. Of course, I cover everything at night to keep curious cats from using the rondelles as hockey pucks, but aside from that it’s fairly turnkey. I come down in the morning, pour a cup of coffee and pick right up where I left off the night before. So handy. Not only that, but walks in the woods (aside from providing much needed exercise) yield all kinds of design ideas in the form of assorted wildflowers, weeds, butterflies and dragonflies. The lavender farms that seem to blanket the landscape around this area are another source of inspiration (and they just smell so damn good).

While I work, I have a great view of the valley as a backdrop for the horses grazing in the daisy-dotted pasture, and the neighbors’ two peacocks pay frequent visits to the back deck. It’s a little startling as I’m bending wire to look up and find them staring at me through the glass door (or are they looking at their reflections?). At any rate, they’re fun to watch, especially when they spread their tail feathers. Impressive. Added bonus: My sister left me a stash of movies, which I’ve started to look forward to later in the day while bending wire and sipping local wine. It’s just all so civilized!

A mix of Chinese and Swarovski crystals coexist peacefully with sterling silver.

A mix of Chinese and Swarovski crystals coexist peacefully with sterling silver.

I’m expanding on my “Gardenware” (working title) designs. Little sparklies that I’m creating. I have them hanging all over my jade bushes at home and here they are now decorating my sister’s maple tree. Not much sun to set off the sparkle and rainbows I get in L.A., but they still twinkle in the lower light.

I’m also expanding on my latest obession involving crystals. More on this next time.

By then I hope to unravel the mysteries of the various types of crystals that are out on the market. Stay tuned.crystals6p

Jan 202010

 

Seagulls stake out prime beachfront property, especially on stormy days.

Seagulls stake out prime beachfront property, especially on stormy days.

Well, it’s been more than a week since I last posted. Now, back in Los Angeles, I had some catching up to do and a bead show to attend (Pasadena Bead and Design Show). While I was at the show, I met Khan of MineGem. His booth, a rainbow of color, instantly drew me in. He sells natural crystals as well as precious and semiprecious gemstone necklaces. I bought a few strands from him (faceted garnet, apatite, black onyx and emerald briolettes). Best of all, though, he spent time with me discussing jewelry and stones — years of accumulated knowledge there. When I walked away from his booth, I took with me much more than beautiful stones. How much inspiration can you possibly stand?

Now that I’ve sorted through my images and — finally — figured out how to upload them with a little help from my boyfriend, Oz (thanks, Oz), I can revisit my mornings on the Oregon Coast.

Mussel shells on the beach always remind me of bits of broken fine china.

Mussel shells on the beach always remind me of bits of broken fine china.

 

 

On my last agate hunt, the ocean was kind to me. The tide was at last low enough at the right time of day (not dark), that I was able to get around to the cove without fear of being swept out to sea. Camera shoved deep into my coat pocket to protect it from rocks and rain, I scrambled over the boulders, around to my favorite spot. The rocks were so deep on the beach, it was like walking through snow. But I knew the tide would be out for a while so I could take my time without the threat of getting trapped. With no other human in sight, the powder-gray gulls were my only companions.

The waterfalls enroute to the cove were in full gush mode, thanks to recent storms.

The waterfalls enroute to the cove were in full gush mode, thanks to recent storms.

 

 

My first step off a boulder onto the rocky beach was rewarded with a huge honey-colored agate. One of the largest I’ve found yet. Basically, everywhere I looked I could see the telltale sparkle of agates, even under the slate-gray sky. Most of them here have been no more than an inch long, but I ended up with several fat ones that  stretched to 2 inches. I also lined my pockets with brilliantly colored jasper and a few carnelians. All good pendant sizes. This was fortuitous for the afternoon’s activities.

I made it home in time to peel off my wet jeans, put on dry ones and brush my tangled hair. Then I was off to Depot Bay, destination: Root’s Beads (Rootsbeads.com), to take a class in wirewrapping from master jeweler, Sheila Root. Though I’ve been doing some basic wirewraps for a little while, there were aspects of it that puzzled me concerning tidy pendant wrapping. Sheila unlocked these mysteries for me during two hours at her beautiful shop. From Highway 101, her place looks unassuming, but when you walk through the door, you’re  hit with color on a grand scale. This former college professor, it seems, has never been a stranger to jewelry. She inherited her sizable tool arsenal from her father, who was a jeweler. She knows what it is jewelry designers want. If you’re ever in this part of the world, be sure to stop in here. Stones, findings, books and pretty much any kind of glass crystal you can think of. And the people there are friendly and helpful. They sell kites, too.

You can find darn near anything you need for jewelry design at Root's Beads.

You can find darn near anything you need for jewelry design at Root's Beads.

 

 

If you’re into stones and natural crystals, another place to check out in nearby Gleneden Beach is the Crystal Wizard. This place is magical. Wonderful atmosphere, and they sell single undrilled stones — almost every kind you can imagine. Since I am interested in learning about stones, I was in heaven and spent over an hour choosing little samples of everything from Celestite and Mangano Calcite to Emerald and Blue Aragonite — all at very affordable prices. They were also nice enough to label everything for me, to remind me what each stone is. Gotta learn somehow. Right?

The first glimpse of the cove and its waterfall after a climb over slick boulders. To find agates on this beach, the best strategy I found is to walk very slowly.So many rocks, so little time.

The first glimpse of the cove and its waterfall after a climb over slick boulders. To find agates on this beach, the best strategy I found is to walk very slowly. So many rocks, so little time.

 

 

All the rock hunting and info intake left me starving. By around 4 pm dinner was sounding really good. I grabbed my mom and we headed for town. In a small beach town like Lincoln City, you wouldn’t think you’d find much in the way of sophisticated cuisine, let alone Thai cuisine, but there are actually two really good Thai places along the 101.

Chalcedony isn't the only fascinating rock formation hidden away in the cove. These seastacks stand guard over its treasures like silent sentinels.

Chalcedony isn't the only fascinating rock formation hidden away in the cove. These seastacks stand guard over its treasures like silent sentinels.

Before I left, we tried them both. The Jasmine in the center of town, has comfy booths and excellent homemade coconut ice cream. The Andaman, across from the library, is quite elegant, serves great food (I couldn’t get enough of the green curry with tofu), and one of the owners, Patana, is a jewelry designer and metalsmith. One slow afternoon, earlier in my trip, I had fun talking jewelry with her.

 

I was sorry when I finally had to head back to L.A. I cushioned the blow by visiting the Pier Avenue Rock Shop (pieraverockshop.com) in Tierra del Mar, north of Lincoln City. I brought some of my beach collection in for owner, Lee King, to inspect. He helped me identify several.

Pier Avenue Rock Shop in Tierra del Mar is a rock hunter's dream.

Pier Avenue Rock Shop in Tierra del Mar is a rock hunter's dream.

Of course, in return, I had to buy a few particularly colorful agates from other parts of the Northwest, along with a piece of Biggs Jasper that has some really striking inclusions in it. Lee’s all about everything involving rocks/minerals, crystals — rock hunting, in general, which he considers, “Fun stuff.”

When it comes to agates, Lee King can help you sort out your clouds from your blacks.

When it comes to agates, Lee King can help you sort out your clouds from your blacks.

Not just a collector, he cuts slabs and cabochons of stellar beauty, and his shelves are overflowing with all sorts of stones, rough and polished. If you’re a rock hound, this shop, located along the stunningly beautiful Three Capes Loop, is definitely worth a visit.

 

 

I already miss my mornings on the beach, in the rain. But I know it will still be there for me, the next time I get the chance to hop a plane. I mean, I left my beading board there, so I have to go back soon. Right?

The translucent honey color of this large agate caught my eye the minute I stepped down from the boulders onto the beach.

The translucent honey color of this large agate caught my eye the minute I stepped down from the boulders onto the beach.

 

To find agates, slowing down is key.

To find agates, slowing down is key.

 

Amid smaller agates, the red jasper, in the lower right corner, lights up this shot.

Amid smaller agates, the red jasper, in the lower right corner, lights up this shot.

 

 

Where are the agates?

Where are the agates?

Bracelets and Merlot

Posted by Rebecca Stone on January 6, 2010
Jan 062010

When you’re dealing with seed beads and intricate designs, especially in poor light, a glass of good Merlot (Shiraz or whatever you have on hand — I’m no snob) can go a long way toward keeping the situation under control. Last night I burned the oil way past midnight, playing around with a couple of bracelet designs. One is a sterling chain with hand-wrapped crystal and garnet bangles and the other features strung crystals and stones fringed with delicate loops of crystal seed beads. Next project: necklace featuring Oregon opal. It’s such a delicate stone, it’s easy to crack while wrapping, so I must proceed with caution. But it offers really pretty shades of sky blue with interesting inclusions of golds, creams and black. Can’t wait to pour myself a glass and start in.

Despite turning in late, I got up this morning to, once again, hit the beach at low tide. Got lucky: Misty rain and relatively calm conditions permitted me to climb around the rocks to the cove. I didn’t chance staying too long, but while there, I found some good-sized agates (some nice banded ones) and some interesting jaspers. Also, engaged in a little spelunking. Nothing too serious, but the cove is laced with shallow sea caves that featured symphonies of dripping water to accompany my contemplations of the gravel. It would all be very Zen-like if it weren’t for the fact that you sort of feel under the gun to hurry up, get your booty and get out of there before the tide or the weather turns.

There are usually a couple of small waterfalls in my little area, but with the rains, these had swelled and branched into multiple liquid crystal cascades, which resolved into rushing creeks and rivulets that carved the sand into small canyons before merging with the waves. Magical. Weather permitting, I’m taking my camera on my next foray. Stay tuned.

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