So I’m not just in Tucson escaping the cold.

8 02 2009

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Really.  I’m in town for the Tucson Gem Show.  The show is one of the largest of its kind in the world.  I’ve heard it said that 80% of the world’s loose cut stones are in town for  a period of two weeks at the beginning of February.
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when do I ever use stones in my work?  Well, I don’t, it’s true.  But the gem show is the source for many other materials that have found their way into my work; primarily mother of pearl.  It is from this yearly pilgrimage that I first found the large thick pieces of mother of pearl that I starting using a few years ago.  I picked them up because they were too god-awesome to leave behind although I had no idea what to do with them.

The same goes for mica that I used to use in pieces.

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Or quartz beads that I still find delicious.

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Or findings that make fabrication of pieces easier.

Or sometimes new tools or tool dealers.

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Or the pearls. Mmmmm. the pearls.  At this gem show, you can find long tables full of them.  Stacked in heaps a foot thick.  Every twisted, messed up shape of pearls.  They truly range from the ridiculous to the sublime.  Full strands of perfect Tahitian pearls costing around $10-15, 000.  Or squirrel-ly shaped Chinese pearls that have been dyed in outrageous colors like orange or chartreuse.  The only thing natural about them is that some poor mollusk in china coughed them up before being relegated to someone’s soup.  And the ingenuity required to tart up something otherwise so precious.  I have to say that I love the tart pearls.

Every hotel, every piece of available real estate comes crawling alive with somebody trying to sell something from somewhere on the planet.  It is impossible to not be impressed and exhausted by the end of a day.

The Gem Show has also been the source of many objects of inspiration.  These are things that have made it to the gem show on the heels of stone dealers who are connected to mineral dealers who are connected to artifact dealers who are connected to fossil dealers who are connected to rug dealers who are connected with…. You get the idea.

These inspirational objects have included
•    A pigeon skeleton
•    A Tibetan prayer box
•    A Rajastani colonial Indian sterling dresser set.
•    A Japanese stool
•    Two wedding crowns from Sumatra
•    Every year one rock awesome ring costing less than $15

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