Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paula Radke at the Tucson Gem Show

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the booth of Paula Radke at the Tucson Gem and Mineral show last month. For those of you in love with dichroic glass, not many artists can hold a candle to the beautiful designs and work done by Paula.
Dichroic glass is defined by wikipedia as "glass containing multiple micro-layers of metal oxides which give the glass dichroic optical properties." Wikipedia states that"The main characteristic of dichroic glass is that it has a transmitted colour and a completely different reflected colour..." The color of the glass changes according to wavelenghts that are either reflected or pass through the glass. The results are dazzling.
Spending time in her booth was truly exciting and I walked away with some gorgeous glass that I can't wait to use in my designs. If you haven't seen Paula's work check her website and enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Before leaving for Tucson, I had resolved to purchase some turquoise and wanted to buy authentic turquoise ,not the stuff that has been ground and glued together. Fortunately , I read the blog of Robyn Hawk who also participates in the bead on a wire forum and followed her advice to visit the booth of Stephen Mauldin. There, not only did I find some beautiful beads from the Castle Dome and Nacozari mines but Stephen had some great stories to tell as well.

While looking at the beautiful strands of turquoise he had displayed in his booth, I came across one that different from the rest. It caught me eye and I asked the price. He seemed quite surprised that I was holding this strand and explained to me that it had been missing for quite some time and he thought that perhaps it had been stolen. Apparently, this strand came from the Castle Dome mine that was closed in the 70s due to excessive blasting from the copper mines. It is part of a stash of over 3,000 lbs. of Castle Dome turquoise that was sold when the mine closed. Stephen was smart enough to purchase this beautiful turquoise and that is the reason I found this lovely strand. From what I read, Castle Dome is still mining some turquoise, but it is not the same quality of the older turquoise before the mine closed. I haven't decided whether or not I will keep the strand to make something for myself or not. At the present time , I am leaning toward keeping it. Stay tuned to see what I did make with the other strands I purchased. The beads are very similar to sleeping beauty turquoise and are a bright, clear, (little or no matrix) robin's egg blue. Stephen has just opened a website where you will be able to purchase some wonderful things. I know I will be doing just that in the near future!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show 2009

These Venetian Murano glass beads are so beautiful!

These are just a sampling of some of the lovely gemstones I am planning to use in my newest designs. I purchased these stone from Lilly's Bead Box at her tucson booth and you can find her on etsy.

I just returned from my very first visit to Arizona. The purpose of my trip was to attend the Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show to purchase gemstones and gold and silver findings for my handmade jewelry. Today I will write a bit about the show itself and will continue to add photos and information over the next week or so. For those of you who have never been, it is a must see and for those of you who have been , I will offer my insight and personal opinions on what to avoid and what not to miss.

Needless to say,this show is extremely overwhelming and scary for a first time visitor like me. Here is what I learned from my experience:

1. Don't get to the show too late. I arrived after many of the bead shows were already over. Although I may have gotten better bargains at the end of the various shows, I felt that I missed seeing the best of the gemstones,beads and lamp work beads.

2. Be very wary of fakes. There is so much cheating going on. For example, many beaders, including myself, are very fond of Karen Hill Tribe beads. I discovered while I was at the show that some unscrupulous dealers are selling "Karen Hill Tribe" which are not fine silver and some are even silver plate and over lead.

3. Know your stones and ask the dealer questions. If they can't give you an answer or guarantee quality,walk away.

4. Double check totals. Have a calculator with you.

5. Have a budget set in your mind and keep careful records of exactly what you spend each day. It all adds up quickly.

6.Be wary of the vendor that calls you over to his booth and then changes his price because you walk away.
7. Try to purchase items you can't find at local shows or stores

8. Leave time for sightseeing because Tucson has some wonderful attractions.

I will be showing you some awesome photos of my travels in Tucson and also photos of some of the mineral oddities seen at the Main Event show which is held on the last weekend of this amazing 2 week event.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Loving Onyx

I purchased some stunning black onyx stones while on vacation in Sarasota a few weeks ago and have been busy making jewelry with the stones. The shape and size of these beauties inspired me enough to use almost all of them up in the three one-of-a-kind designs you see in this post. I rarely use all of my stones up like this, preferring to save them for a rainy day, but these stones were begging to be used. My only regret is that I didn't buy more.