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red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.

 

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lava malaLava Rock beads are made from a type of igneous rock. They are literally made from cooled down molten rock (Basalt). In order for rock to melt, it has to reach temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees Celsius beneath a volcano. When a volcano erupts, red hot molten rock spills out of the volcano and flows away as lava until it becomes cool, solid, porous and black.

Lava Rock has been around for millions of years, so it has had some interesting uses over time, many of which are still used today. For example, it’s used in gas barbecues (the flames heat the lava rock which in turn cooks the food); in landscaping flower beds and borders; in aquariums and terrariums to provide lightweight texture and color. The obsidian type of lava rock can even be used in surgical tools, as it is sharper than steel and gives a much cleaner cut. Native Americans knew this long ago when they used it to make arrowheads.

Those who subscribe to the idea of metaphysical properties might note that Lava Rock is thought of as a grounding stone, one that can balance the emotions and bring about calmness and strength. It is believed to help keep tempers in check and also help the wearer to work through problems in a logical way. It has a raw type of energy, having been born from the fiery heat underneath the earth’s surface. This energy is said to represent rebirth or renewal, so it is also thought to help promote fertility.

acorn necklaceI've always loved those electroformed materials such as gold or copper-'plated' leaves, seeds or other treasures from nature. In this way, the unique beauty of the natural world is preserved and made 'immortal'.

Electroforming is metal on natural or organic items like leaves, pine cones, sea horses, sand dollars, gemstones and or anything you want to cover in gold ,copper silver and rhodium. It involves an intricate process of controlling chemically a metal deposit (copper, silver, gold) onto a conductive surface, whether it be an organic or inorganic material. This process is similar to plating...but is done over a much longer period of time - and can be anywhere from 1 - 24 hours. Basically a thick “skin” of metal is built up into a rigid surface.

In the example shown here from From Fottiniya on Etsy, here's a sweet acorn, covered in pure copper and partially covered with a dark patina for a more natural look. FDJtools offers a kit that includes the controller and supplies needed for electroforming with copper, if you're interested in experimenting. But be warned -- it's a fairly complex process! 

It goes something like this -- taking a leaf, for example.

  • Select a leaf. Any leaf can be used. Keep in mind that you will not be looking at the pretty colors once the leaf is electroplated, so look for a shape that you like rather than nice colors.
  • Wrap the leaf base in 18 gauge wire.
  • Paint both sides of the leaf with silver conducting paint.
  • Fill a container with a salt suspension of the metal that you intend to use to plate the leaf. In the case of copper plating, you would use copper sulfate solution. Your kit should contain the correct solution.
  • Connect an alligator clip to the wired leaf, and connect that to the ammeter with a copper wire. The negative outlet of your ammeter should be connected to the negative outlet on your power supply, and there should be two wires connecting the copper plates from the bath to the positive outlet on your power supply.
  • Pour the solution into the electroplating container until it covers the leaf, and turn the ammeter on to between 1 and 1.5 amperes.
  • Leave the leaf for at least 20 minutes, until it is covered in the desired metal.
  • Remove the leaf from the bath and rinse it, then clean it with acetone.

malachite 2I’ve always been fascinated by Malachite (pronounced ‘Mal-ah-kite’). The name may be derived from: 1) the Greek ‘malhe’, meaning grass for its green color, or 2) the Greek ‘malakos’, meaning soft, because the stone is easy to carve; OR 3) from the Greek word "mallow", a green herb. Its luxuriant, swirling patterns are unmistakable, and it can be startling in its beauty. With its concentric rings of green, sometimes resembling the eye of a peacock feather, this beautiful gem has been beloved of many cultures throughout the ages.

The first culture to use Malachite for adornment was ancient Egypt, around 4,000 BC. It was imported from King Solomon’s infamous copper mines on the Red Sea. There are tomb paintings in Egypt made of malachite ‘paint’ – the gemstones were ground into a fine dust and mixed with galena, a thick paste. The mixture was also used for cosmetics and paintings on eyelids as a talisman against evil.

European painters during the Renaissance period of the 15th and 16th centuries also used Malachite as a pigment for paints and dyes. It is thought that many of the green colors in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting were painted with malachite-based oil paints.

In Victorian times, women hung small pieces of Malachite from baby cribs and children’s beds to keep evil at bay and to help their babies have peaceful sleep.

During the Russian Romanov dynasty, malachite came to be a symbol of outlandish luxury. By 1820, it was being paired with gold and diamonds. Most astounding, in 1835 a virtual mountain of malachite was discovered – a boulder of the highest quality, that took 21 years to unearth and bring to the surface. Slabs of the gem were used to adorn two Russian palaces with pillars, columns and walls; it also encased ten enormous Corinthian columns supporting a two-hundred foot tall gilded altar in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.

white cat 2Did you know that gemstones are mentioned in many fables and fairy tales of long ago? If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know I am fascinated with the many myths and magical stories associated with stones and crystals.

Scholars of folklore have noticed that gemstones often signify that the reader has entered a special or magical place – with out-of-this-world sightings like streets paved in gemstones, jewel-encrusted goblets, and robes sparkling with precious diamonds, rubies and emeralds. There are many such stories featuring gemstones. There is one that is a particular favorite of mine – “The White Cat”, a French tale by Countess D’Aulnoy (1650 – 1705). The fairy tale is extraordinarily long, but enchanting.

The basic story is one of a young prince’s quest for his father, the king. In his travels he discovers a magnificent castle, with a gate covered in red garnets, walls of crystal and doors made of coral, lapis lazuli and pearls. Within the castle are fine robes encrusted with emeralds, and a beautiful white cat who wears a strand of pearls and holds a goblet of gemstones. Here are a couple of little snippets to give you an idea:

The Prince could not believe that any danger threatened him when he was welcomed in this way, so, guided by the mysterious hands, he went toward a door of coral, which opened of its own accord, and he found himself in a vast hall of mother-of-pearl, out of which opened a number of other rooms, glittering with thousands of lights, and full of such beautiful pictures and precious things that the Prince felt quite bewildered. After passing through sixty rooms the hands that conducted him stopped, and the Prince saw a most comfortable-looking arm-chair drawn up close to the chimney-corner; at the same moment the fire lighted itself, and the pretty, soft, clever hands took off the Prince's wet, muddy clothes, and presented him with fresh ones made of the richest stuffs, all embroidered with gold and emeralds. He could not help admiring everything he saw, and the deft way in which the hands waited on him, though they sometimes appeared so suddenly that they made him jump...   

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