I very happy to announce my 2016 gallery schedule. There’s a great lineup of five exhibits this year including photocollages, painting, drawing, and mixed media and small sculpture. At this point I’ve shown over 20 Wyoming artists and while I don’t by any means limit my boundaries to Wyoming, it just happens to be who I have shown. I like to find artists making present-day work whether they are reacting to our amazing wide open spaces or considering our regional politics. This week I am opening the 2016 season with Adrienne Vetter and Colleen Friday’s photocollages; their artist reception will be Saturday, May 21, 2016, 5-7, please come.
Also new for the year will be the opportunity to buy the exhibited artwork online here on the isabeljewelry.com website. Since Pinedale is very remotely located I wanted to find a way to get these amazing artists’ work in the hands of people that are not able to make it here. There will be a tab at the left of the website “Gallery Artwork” where you can find each exhibit’s work for the duration of the show. I will ship to you! Consider buying a piece of artwork this year, it truly makes your life better to have artwork in your life…it’s good for your brain and eyes spend quality time with an interesting piece.
So I’m super excited about a new turn in my jewelry making. I’ve aquired some rock cutting equipment and am learning lapidary skills. I’ve always used regional turquoise from Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico and have been wanting to increase my regional offerings so last year I introduced jade sourced from Wyoming. To get hyper-local I figured I would be interesting to start cutting some of the stones I find while hiking here in my own county, Sublette County.
Sublette County is a huge piece of land and mostly public land. It’s amazingly beautiful and varied in geography. We have high sage-brush desert in the southern half of the county and large granite mountains in the north. A lot of the land was carved by glaciers during the ice age so there are large boulders and glacial moraines at the base of the high peaks of the Wind River Range. The desert used to be a vast ocean and is part of the Green River Formation. People find all sorts of cool fossils in Wyoming and Sublette County and south is no exception. If you go a little farther south from Sublette County you get to Kemmerer, Wyoming, a small town known for the Green River fossils, millions of little fish fossils (below is a photo of one I have in my kitchen) as well as palm fronds, prehistoric crocodiles and birds.
The jade in Wyoming is found in the center of the state near Lander and Casper and it varies in greens to pitch black that shines up like a mirror. I love the jade found here and this is especially one of the reasons I am beginning my lapidary journey; I want to cut unusual shapes for my jewelry. Besides jade we have quite a bit of interesting agate and jasper of varying patterns and colors. So now that the snow is melting I can go rockhounding with pals, what a good time.
(fossilized algae with the corner polished up)
By the way…an interesting thing about the word ‘lapidary’… it comes from the Latin word for rock: ‘lapis’. You hear ‘lapis’ used for Lapis Lazuli is a popular blue stone, often found in Afghanistan, and that name simply means Stone Blue (lazuli coming from the word ‘azure’).
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.