Saturday, September 13, 2008

Southwest Ramblings - Thoughts on Making and Living Art

Creativity in Rocks
Linda Moran

Who knew? I sure didn't. You study rocks in school, and they're - well, they're rocks....How can you get excited about a dark rough rock? I didn't understand the appeal....until.....

The first time I went to the Tucson gem show, I was expecting plain, ordinary rock, like I saw in elementary school. I was - in a word - stunned. I had no idea there was that much color out of the earth. There sure is color on the surface of the planet, but I wasn't prepared for what was down below.

Now the gem show is a regular stop for me each February - dealers from around the world - oh my, two years ago it was an incredible jade boat, last year crackelated quartz, and just this past weekend, some amazing jasper. The original question about why go to the gem show to see rock now has an answer - for my fiber art.

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is spread out around Tucson, with one weekend at the Convention Center (depending on road construction...), but the fun is going from site to site, motel room to motel room, to see the vendors. There's beads, sculptures, raw rock, tapestries, feng shui aids, jewelry findings, diamonds, HUGE geodes, and semi-precious stones.

Be prepared for your senses to be assaulted - the colors are kaleidoscopic, and there is SO MUCH! If you check this list of dealers, you can get an idea of just what is available. After the first jaunt, when I had NO disposable income, I survived on getting a set of a dozen hand-painted jade eggs - for $10.00. I was hooked.

As I have gone back each year, I've narrowed my focus to what I need for embellishing my fiber. Two years ago it was tree agate, for some of the environmental pieces. Last year I was looking for stones that would work with my water pieces - some great aquamarine and glass fish. This year I'm looking for "fire" for a couple of "volcano" pieces.

I've started going with my friend Alison, who does jewelry with semi-precious stones. I've gotten VERY good at finding unusual pieces for her - which she ends up buying, and then I usually end up with earrings as a result...great deal. Alison has learned a great deal about stone - what's manufactured, what's dyed, what's "reconstituted" (like coral, so it isn't hurting the reefs). We both like agate and jasper and the stones that have "interesting veining and occlusions - the more detail, the more interesting. We paw through piles, sort through individual strands, and decide just how much we can buy. I go with specifics in mind - otherwise, there's just too much to see!

And bottom line - some of the stones you just want to have - 'cause they're gorgeous, plain and simple. In fact, this past weekend was the "preliminary" show, with some of the dealers who would be here in February. Guess who found some of the most interesting stones? Hubby has a great eye for what works with our marbled fabrics.

Linda Moran is a fiber artist working with hand-created marbled fabrics. This centuries-old art form originally limited to paper takes on new life when used on fabric. Join her for musings on the fiber field, art in the Southwest, and the challenges of creating fiber art. See her work and contact her at The Art of Fabric, or reading her musings on her blog.

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