Wyoming is a great place to experience a true winter and the end of December through the beginning of January always proves to be a deep dark and extremely cold time. Last week we had a spell of 20 below zero weather. But already I can tell the days are just getting a wee bit longer; it’s been two weeks since the solstice.
After Christmas, I took the week off of work to enjoy the bottom of the year merging to the beginning of a new year. Usually my husband and I travel to visit family for the holidays but this year we stayed put and I was able to have some quality lying-on-the-couch time mixed with daily cross country skiing and plenty of festivities in between. There is a very large lake just outside of Pinedale, Fremont Lake, and we skied along its banks a few of those days. We witnessed it freezing over. At first there was ice gathering along the shore and a wind was keeping it chopped up but then, just a mere three days later, the entire lake had a sheet of ice covering the surface. Soon enough it’ll be thick enough to ski on but I’m not trying it yet.
I’ve returned to my shop and studio to dig into work once again and I hope to realize some of the many designs I have in my head and catch up on last year’s paperwork. It’s a nice time of year during this dead of winter, the short days make for longer star gazing and the cold weather makes for more coziness inside.
Fremont Lake, Pinedale, Wyoming, on the verge of freezing over, late December.
Summer passes quickly at 7,000′ above sea level, we’ve had snow on our mountain tops this week and a very rainy August.
In the shop I have been busy splitting my time between jewelry making and working on a public sculpture for the In|site:Ex|site, Pinedale Fine Arts Council’s public arts program. I am drawing inspiration for the granite peaks of the Wind River Range and mixing in my love of gemology to create a beautiful outdoor sculpture. Granite is compromised of quartz, feldspar and mica; each of those minerals has its own shape, habit and color. While the colors of the feldspar can vary from one mountain range to the next, ours is a pinkish color. When you go up into the mountains here with eyes pointed towards picking out the minerals, the granite proves super interesting. You can see lines of black mica flakes, jumbles of quartz, and chunky facets of feldspar.
(veins of black mica within the quartz and feldspar, spotted colors of pink feldspar and white quartz)
Earlier in the month I had the good fortune to get into the mountains for five days. I went backpacking to the base of some of these enormous peaks so that I could look at this granite up close. I brought a couple of small samples back with me.
(above, vein of golden mica flakes within the quartz)
(rugged Wind River Range peaks are solid granite rock)
Now I am in my workshop laminating together large blue foam sheets so that I can carve the shapes for the sculpture. I will use these pieces for molds and innards of some of the shapes. It’s all a new process for me and I’m using new materials so the learning curve is pretty steep. As usual I am finding that good tools and experienced advice from other artists can help alleviate some of those difficulties.
Happy 2014, the number 14 didn’t have much significance to me but I heard somebody say that it is doubly lucky because it is the number 7 x 2. Also, my husband said it would be a great year to hike a “14er”, one of the peaks in Colorado that is over 14,000 ft, we’ll see if we have the chance to make it down there.
Returning to work after the holiday chaos is always interesting, it’s quiet and a there is a lot of paperwork to do. I’m going to be continuing my gemology courses online and going to the Tucson Gem Show in February for further education and gemstone/bead shopping. I’m working towards becoming a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certified Graduate Gemologist.
Hopefully I will have time to experiment with the plethora of designs that are in my head during these quieter months.
I recently purchased a pile of beautiful gemstones. Last week I hosted a Ladies Night at my store and revealed dozens of new earrings. Each pair is different and the gems are transparent and sparkly, crystaly and colorful. I will post a few on this site but in the meantime here is a quick photo:
Pictured here is a mix of: rose quartz, amethyst, turquoise, amber, citrine, flourite, garnet, aquamarine, jade and peridot. All on handmade silver earring wires.
To customize the jewelry that I make, I usually handmake the “findings”. Findings are what jewelers call clasps, ear wires, pin backs, etc. Basically the hardware of the piece of jewelry. Most of my beaded necklaces and some of my silver chains have a simple sterling silver hook and loop. I like these because they are unusual while being secure.
Pictured here are the hook and loop clasps on some recent Autumn themed necklaces that I made.