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.

Rain and Rocks

Posted by Rebecca Stone on January 5, 2010
Jan 052010

I love beachcombing in the rain — as long as it’s more the misty kind rather than a steady downpour! After the other day, when I gathered more trash than agates during my solo crusade to clean up the corner of the beach I love so much, I figured I was due for a find. Yesterday it was too darn stormy to make it out to my favorite spot. Instead, I found a Rogue Ale brew pub overlooking Newport harbor, serving shots of something called “Dead Guy Ale.” I’m no beer snob, but it was pretty darn good. A change of pace from the typical cup of latte that usually accompanies my Internet chores.

On the way back to Lincoln City, I checked out a couple of other beaches that I’d heard were possible agate havens. But no go. Dark, rainy, windy — and more sand than rocks. But I did look out to see a little harbor seal face scoping me out and barking at me from the swells.

This morning, I was out on the beach as the tide was going out. Again, dark and drizzly. Not another soul out there. The wind out of the southwest was gusting about 15 knots and I could taste the salt on the air. The seagulls were lined up like a powder-gray platoon at the surf’s edge — hundreds of them. They parted before me as I walked, and landed behind me. I thought of Hitchcock’s The Birds. Lots of rocks dimpled the faultless sand along with the blue and white iridescence of muscle shells, scattered like broken pieces of china on tan satin.

It looked as though maybe I could get around the rocks to the cove, and I tried — twice. But the situation was just a little too treacherous. After wrenching my wrist to break my fall off a slick rock, I resigned myself to hunting on the beach. No agate is worth risking your life for. 

Pickin’s seemed slim, but as I walked slowly back along the packed sand, I started finding some things. I am starting to get pretty good at identification, but there are some I would still like to verify. I believe I found a couple of blue agates, along with some clouds, whites, mosses, clears and carnelians, and maybe a black. I also collected some jaspers with fascinating patterns.

It’s always the patterns, or inclusions, that capture my attention. This is why I named my blog Inclusions. It’s kind of a double entendre, but, while I find the flawless stones beautiful, I feel that the flaws, or inclusions, are what give a stone character. And isn’t that just like so many things in life? Anyway, more about that later. And I hope to post some photos soon of some of my finds, which I think will making really striking jewelry.

Jan 022010

I hit the beach this morning as the tide was coming in. Not good timing for agate hunting, but I needed the exercise. I dodged the waves as they rolled in, heavily capped with foam resembling whipped cream. As they receded, they left the packed sand with a milk mustache. Last night’s storm left the sand littered with small pieces of wood, sizable rocks and jelly fish the color of burnt sugar. Nothing from the chalcedony family, though. I’ll return this afternoon, when the tide is going out. Maybe then I can climb over the rocks to my favorite agate cove.

Sadly, besides the organic litter, in place of agates, jasper and carnelian, the surfline on the otherwise pristine beach was also dotted with bottle caps, lighters and countless chips of colored plastic. Oregon beaches are normally quite clean, and who knows how far this stuff has traveled. Maybe from that Pacific Gyre? It’s almost as if the ocean is bringing it in, asking us to gather it before it goes back out again. It made me want to go get a rake. But the pieces are so small, you’d need something more like a vacuum. When I think of all the animals that might ingest this garbage, it hurts. Maybe I’ll take a bag with me on my afternoon foray and pick up what I can. I know I won’t even scratch the surface, but it’s something — and, hey, after all the pie I ate last week, a little more exertion can’t hurt me.

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