When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my idea of a tent usually involved a couple of chairs and a blanket. It was rudimentary but quite cozy, and I would often hole up inside with my favorite stuffed animals while waiting for wayward bunnies or similar furry creatures to stop by, lured by treats I would place outside my lair. I guess my plan was to invite them in for tea or something. Later in my childhood, tents became more elaborate affairs, sometimes even requiring tree-climbing skills. They became known more as forts to be defended (usually against marauding neighborhood boys led by my best friend’s annoying little brother). There were also the tents we would sometimes use when my dad would take us camping. These were usually olive-drab, army surplus jobs. Great for sleeping in and keeping mosquitoes at bay, though not particularly attractive.

Camping tents today are brightly colored technical whiz-bangs compared to those of my childhood. But lately, I’ve been involved with another kind of tent. Actually they’re called “canopies.” These are the peaked shelters that dot the landscape of festivals, fairs, farmers markets and flea markets. Commonly white, and, en masse, resembling clouds of whipped cream, canopies are a boon to jewelry designers. They provide shade for the vendor, the jewelry and the customers.

When I decided to try selling some of my work at shows this summer, my boyfriend, Oz, and I spent countless hours looking for and researching the various canopies on the market. We first bought a well-used Quik Shade, which we set up in front of the house for a trial run. As we live on narrowly terraced land, this was no easy feat, and we had to MacGyver our way to even footing. But when we learned about two Caravan canopies available for $50 each at a moving sale, we couldn’t resist. Caravans seem to be among the premier canopies used by artists, and these were barely used, pristine white with side curtains, sandbag holders and stakes, and bags with rollers included in the price.

Like many (so many) of my jewelry-making learning experiences, my journey down the road of canopy wisdom has been full of surprises. On this journey, I see people like Rena Klingenberg as my guides. An old hand at the jewelry design biz, she’s kind of like AAA for the jewelry crowd, always ready and willing to lend a helping hand on the road to jewelry-designer nirvana.

Among my recent revelations via publications such as Klingenberg’s Ultimate Guide to Your Profitable Jewelry Booth, as well as just scouting around at various events: Canopies should be white so the color of the jewelry can be shown to the best advantage without tinting via colored fabric. They must be easy to put up and take down, especially when single-handing. They should have straight legs so they fit in a 10×10 space. Weights of at least 40 pounds must be attached to each corner of a canopy in a way that will keep the thing from flying off in the event of a big gust of wind. Weights we’ve seen run the gamut: bags of sand (you can buy bags made for this by many of the canopy manufacturers, but these can be pricey. We saw some at Walmart the other day for about 10 bucks for four); pvc pipes filled with cement and hanging from chains or ropes; cement blocks; and plastic jugs of water. Side curtains are a good option to have as they help enclose the space and help shield against sun and harsh weather, although some kind of mesh or shadecloth might be preferable on hot days. Vents on top of a tent can help with air circulation inside, while also helping to keep the structure from lofting in a wind. A roller bag to transport your canopy is a big plus.

Anyway, who knew? Not me, that’s for sure.

But now that I have the canopy thing down, I just need to put one up at a show and lure in some customers. And somehow I know it will take more than putting a few carrots and a pile of cabbage outside the entrance to my tent — er — canopy.

Check out some of my latest treats (soon to be posted on my Etsy site (RebeccaStoneDesigns.Etsy.com):

It's hard to believe this is a natural stone, but it is. The incredible hue of apatite is striking when paired with fuschia Swarovski crystals and sterling silver.

It's hard to believe this is a natural stone, but it is. The incredible hue of apatite is striking when paired with fuschia Swarovski crystals and sterling silver.

I love banded the banded amethyst in this three-strand necklace and the way the green Swarovski crystals play off the purple and silver.

I love banded the banded amethyst in this three-strand necklace and the way the green Swarovski crystals play off the purple and silver.

The combination of deep-red garnet, sky-blue sodalite, translucent moonstone, pale rose muscovite and sterling silver produced a rich array of textures and colors in this piece.

The combination of deep-red garnet, sky-blue sodalite, translucent moonstone, pale rose muscovite and sterling silver produced a rich array of textures and colors in this piece.

About the Name

Posted by Rebecca Stone on March 8, 2010
Mar 082010

Inclusions in stones might be considered flaws by some, especially those chasing perfection. But it’s the imperfections that I am drawn to. Inclusions tell the story of the formation of a gemstone. They are its biography. Its beauty mark. They endow stones with character, personality, uniqueness and rare beauty. Inclusions mean that some other mineral, element or event (such as a fracture) has been included or trapped inside a stone during its development.

So many great stones to wrap, so little time. Here, agate and jasper show off their wonderful patterns.

So many great stones to wrap, so little time. Here, agate and jasper show off their wonderful patterns.

I’m no geologist (and I definitely have a lot to learn), but, I can’t help it: Clear quartz shot through with golden needles of rutile, black splinters of tourmaline or green shafts of actinolite or chlorite is magical;

Like spun gold, spikes of rutile add a touch of glamour to clear quartz.

Like spun gold, spikes of rutile add a touch of glamour to clear quartz.

inclusions in various jaspers create miniature works of art; moss agate, illustrated with green tendrils formed by inclusions of other minerals, resembles a tiny garden or bouquet; aventurine, spangled with inclusions of mica, shimmers like green satin embroidered with white gold; the black inclusions (stemming probably from a black mica matrix) in a rough, natural emerald punctuate the characteristic green shades in a way no 24-karat setting ever can.

What looks like organic greenery inside a moss agate is actually a mineral inclusion.

What looks like organic greenery inside a moss agate is actually a mineral inclusion.

Black inclusions add drama to a blue-green natural emerald.

Black inclusions add drama to a blue-green natural emerald.

Let’s face it, perfection is, for most of us, unattainable. And who needs it anyway? I believe that, just like human beings, stones that have been touched by life are much more interesting. And that’s why I love using them in my jewelry designs.

As I continue down this road, I’d love to hear of the experiences of others in regard to stones and jewelry design. And, if I get something wrong, please feel free to chime in about that too. This blog reflects a journey of discovery, and I love the idea of sharing knowledge about the art and craft of and jewelry design. And, with a name like “Inclusions,” this blog is designed to examine a wide range of topics.

Bands of quartz enhance the beauty of this amethyst nugget.

Bands of quartz enhance the beauty of this amethyst nugget.

Thanks for reading!

© 2011 Inclusions Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha