Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sometimes you make the choice.....sometimes life makes the choice for you.

They say that all things happen for a reason....and they are probably right. But often, those reasons are unknown to us. It seems like someone else is pulling the strings - and we are just along for the ride. I have felt that way for some time now. Oh, I am not looking for anyone to blame or to make any excuses. Life is what it is....just have to choose how you deal with it.

We take so much for granted, that is until there is a real chance that everything will change. And change is hard. It is way too easy just to float along in life, letting life's currents take you here & there. I know many who would be hard pressed to explain why they did this or that. Much less, be willing to take responsibility for their actions or what their actions caused others to have to makeup for or fix.

I never considered myself one of THOSE people until I took a good look at where I had planned to be & where I am now. Yes, things have happened that I have no control over. But there are just as many things that I could have done differently. At the heart of that comment is a question..."Would I have done anything differently?" And my answer is NO. I did allow life to kind of push me one direction or the other...but it has brought me to a spot where I feel I need to be. Maybe who ever was pulling the strings knew what they were doing.

Many a day has ended with me feeling something was just slightly off. Nothing I could pinpoint...but just something. And over time I had to come face to face with what I was doing, what I wanted to do & what I need to do. And when you throw in some heath challenges, combined with others stealing your work. You either find a way around or just let it happen. The final nail in the coffin was when my website was hacked. All that work, GONE. And I just couldn't  bring myself  to just get back to that place. So, I did find another avenue to continue working with my beloved stones. My efforts with the website were frustrating & while it was still up & running - it was not the same.

I needed to clean out some crystals I had bought with some rock at an estate sale. And as life would have it, I found alittle niche that would allow me to continue my love affair with gems. When it started I had no idea it would become as much a part of my life as it is. And having direct contact with the hundreds of artists that buy my gems has fed my soul. While not as demanding as cutting, polishing & selling cabochons (which I am still doing) - it comes with it's own needs. And they are always changing.

And they continue to change almost daily. I am back reworking the website, adding new stock & ALWAYS looking for new stuff. Is life perfect? no.....but it is fun. And I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Want to see what I am playing with now? Find me on Facebook  or The Polished Pebble Website

All the best to you and yours, Connie    -    The Polished Pebble

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cabbing Ice - Working With Bull "Snow" Quartz - The Polished Pebble

The Ranch in Wyoming looking out over the meadow.

Yes, it is winter. And no matter what the enviro - nut jobs say....there has been plenty of cold & snowy weather. But, we here in Bakersfield, CA have been snow free - stuck under a blanket of fog. Yesterday we finally got to see the sun...but today it is foggy again :(

We have been working on getting some cabochons & such listed on our website - The Polished Pebble and one of the pieces we listed was a cab made out of White Quartz. See the picture below.......

This is the first piece that we have had in our hands once it was finished to be able to list for sale. It seems that every other cab that we cut of this material seemed to be sold right after it was completed. A group of local wire wrappers just loved the look. And after working with this stone - We agree - it makes for some beautiful cabochons.

It looks just like ice! And to think that when we originally saw this stone, we dismissed it as too plain jane to cab. Boy, were we wrong. It seems that the plain crisp white & clear combo works well with an unlimited types of metals & other accent colors. Plus it doesn't seem to clash with anything. Making the jewelry that it is set into very versatile.

Our stone was found on the ranch in Wyoming were we go every year in Oct. They have an abundance of quartz & quartzite stone there. In fact, other than the meadow seems the whole valley is just a bunch of quartz rocks.

Once I had cut & polished a few cabochons last summer we knew that we were going to need to bring some more home to work with. So, one afternoon when the guys were in from hunting we went out to the ridge to pick up some pieces. Trying to find some stones that were a nice size to slab & were not iron stained was not as easy as we thought it would be. And as we looked around we noticed something. The white rocks that we were seeking were only in the top foot or so of the ground. There was an old rock pit & you could see that once they got past that first more solid white rocks. Interesting.....

We gathered enough to keep us in stone at least for the next year & brought it home with our other goodies from the trip. And we have been working with it ever since. You may have seen it other places called "Snow Quartz"....or if you have a mining background - "Bull Quartz". And after working with it...we are shocked that it is not offered more. But then again - it you saw it slabbed up next to a nice agate or jasper....most would pass it up.

You see, until you polished it out you don't see the true beauty of this stone. We have all heard Diamonds referred to as "Ice" - but that is just wrong....this quartz looks more like ice than any diamond that I have seen. And it is a heck of alot less money. :)

Don't forget to checkout our latest offerings of Gemstone Cabochons along with some very unique "Natural Finish" Gems at out website    The Polished Pebble

Later..........Connie  -  The Polished Pebble

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rock Hounding With The Wild Horses of Wyoming - The Polished Pebble

Wild horses....nothing says freedom quite like the image of a group of wild horses running free. No fences to hem them in. No borders they are not free to cross. A lovely thought - but hardly reality. But on the day I spent with them, it was hard not to feel the draw.

The day started out as planned. I was going to go out to an area that I had kind of skipped over before in my travels out rock hunting. A large basin surrounded by low to medium hills just north of Raulins, WY. Barren rolling ground with little more than sagebrush & native grass. Wild horses were nowhere in my plans.

I turned off the pavement onto one of the many dirt roads...scanning the sides for any interesting rock outcroppings or gullies that needed to be explored. Careful to stay in the well worn ruts & not damage this fragile land anymore than necessary. As the truck crested a low hill they came into view...a group of horses. They were lazily grazing when I first saw them.

Beautiful & strong I thought that they were the property of a nearby rancher. They looked extremely healthy & well feed. As I drove within 50 yds. of them they seemed unconcerned until I stopped to just look. It seemed that the minute the truck came to a halt all eyes were on me. I sat for just seconds looking & it became clear that they we not happy with me so close - so I continued on my way. After all, I was not looking to find horses. :)

I did find some interesting agates along the road not too far from where I saw the horses, so I pulled off the road & got out. Looking around I noticed that I had crossed another ridge & the horses were not visible from here. I was busy looking around, and picking up some of the agate & petrified wood that was in the area. I had wandered about 100 yds. from my truck when I heard the noise. The ground seemed to be shaking along with this thundering noise. As I looked toward the direction of this noise I saw the same group of horses heading my way at a dead run. Not a casual speed - a "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE" run.

Now, it is amazing just what goes thru your mind when you are faced with something like this. All I could think was "Dang, I left the camera in the truck!". Looking back now, I should have been afraid of being run over...but for some reason I didn't feel that way. As the lead horse spotted me - he veered to the left ever so slightly & the pack passed by about 20 yds. away. Each horse looking me in the eye as they passed.

The last horse in the group slowed as he approached me & stopped. the other horses had cleared the next rise by then. Standing there, it was very evident that he was sizing me up. Me, I was admiring this beautiful & powerful animal. He was stunning. We stood there for what seemed like along time...then on top of the ridge the rest of the group appeared & one of the horses made a noise. The horse by me turned & walked towards the others. And then they were gone.

I continued my quest for stone - but it was just not the same & I decided to call it a day. The drive back to the ranch was uneventful, but the memory was & still is very vivid to this day. I plan to make another trip to this area next year....don't know if I want to find more rock or just visit the horses again. Either way - it should be fun.

Connie - The Polished Pebble

*****One additional note - just before we left Wyoming....I read in a local paper that the BLM was going to do a Wild Horse roundup later that month in the area I was in. I wonder if the group I met is still roaming the range. I sure hope so.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mother Natures Little Gems - The Polished Pebble

We have been cleaning & cleaning again some of our latest additions. These are some small natural treasures from our Wyoming trip last Oct. Collected in an area near the Laramie Mountains. While alot of people working with stone collect large pieces that can be cut & polished, myself included....I still continue to be drawn to the smaller pieces also.

Such detail in a little stone - and Mother Nature has already finished these beauties off with a nice tumble followed by a wind polish. No extra work for me, right? Well, sort of. The job of cleaning these pretties off can be quite labor intensive....soaking & scrubbing - over & over again for some. But the end result is worth it.

I always thought that these gems deserved their rightful place in a beautiful piece of jewelry. Recently there have been a few talented artists that have agreed with me. I must admit, I am amazed at their ability to twist & wrap wire while showcasing these smaller stones. They are amazing!

The pieces above are the most interesting dark grey metallic stones. While we are not geologists, we believe them to be manganese. The look reminds me of some iron meteorites I have...but they are different. Just think of what these would look like in a wrap - they are definitely one of a kind items.

And every now & then - while cleaning up a small gem you uncover some sparklie crystal druzy. This piece has a fracture down the middle. The plan is to make a cut along the fracture & polish the agate. They will be small - but stunning.

Connie  -  The Polished Pebble

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Years Rumblings with The Polished Pebble

Ever notice that when you are doing lots of things & have tons more that you should be doing & even more that you need or want to do...and suddenly life makes you stop? No warning, no advance notice...just stop? Well, that explains the last couple of months here. And in that moment....all things that are important - really important become crystal clear.

We won't go into details, but it appears that the storm has passed and the clouds are passing. Looking forward - we have a renewed focus that you will see here and thru our business. We have many adventures that we have had that - for many reasons - just didn't get written up. And plans are to get them posted.

We have been working on inventory, both in new Cabochons & Display pieces. And we will be expanding our "Natural Stone" inventory. There has been great reception & demand for those pieces that Mother Nature has supplied the shape & finish to. Along with that we are also offering Gemstone Slabs thru our other website for those that would like to make their own Cabochons. Expect the same high quality in the slabs we offer there - as the hand cut and polished Gemstone Cabochons that we offer thru .

Currently we are working on photos of finished work & researching additional info on our stones so we can provide you with a more complete look at each stone.

The weather has not been very good for going out rockhounding as of late. Although, all the rain is sure to have washed off some treasures & there are trips planned and on the calender. Many out into the desert areas where the temps are cool enough & the bad critters are sleeping.

The only real thing that might put a damper on the planned trips would be the gas prices :( We will have to wait & see.

 As always, if you have some great stone or know someone who does...we are always looking. And if you are looking to find a particular stone or a certain special Cabochon....drop us and email, we'll be glad to help!

The cloud pictures in this post we taken after a recent storm. We always find clouds and their different forms, streaks & designs fascinating. And the sky - especially after a storm - just reminds us of how small & trivial things can be sometimes in the world.

Here's hoping the NEW YEAR brings all of you Peace & Joy!

Connie    -    The Polished Pebble

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Search for Black Turitella Agate - Rockhounding with The Polished Pebble

Turitella Agate
We arrived in Wyoming for our annual Elk/Rock hunting trip after the usual long drive ready for the challenge. Looking ahead to the weather, they were predicting rain in about 4 days. If you have ever traveled on the dirt/gravel roads of would understand our concern.

You see, when it rains in Wyoming - the dirt roads turn to the stickiest, slickest, gooiest mess. It is really best to avoid them until they dry out. Since I had planned some trips that were farther away from home base this year...I had to get out there right away. Usually I would stick around & visit a couple of days before going out. Not this time. So the next day I was back on the road.

Heading out that morning....destination - Delaney Rim, just outside of Wamsutter, WY for Black Turitella Agate. Actually, it is "Goniobasis" - fossil snail shells in black agate. I had with me my trusty "Rockhounding Wyoming" book and was ready to go hunting.

I reached Wamsutter with no problems and the quick trip thru the edge of town was a breeze. But I was not prepared for what I saw after getting on the dirt/gravel road. It seems that the whole area was on LARGE natural gas field. There was numerous areas with large machinery & the BIG truck traffic was heavy. This could be interesting.

As I was counting the miles off to the first turn I noticed that there did not appear to be any road signs for the side roads here. And when I came to the mileage where I was supposed to turn...there was NO road. Backtracking I took the first road I came to that went to the west. No sign...oh well. The book said this road was a narrow road...not now. Then at the stated mileage I was supposed to see a structure (Metal Shed or Barn). Well, the mileage was off - but I saw something. And there was supposed to be another road sign...ugh, no sign. So I took a leap & kept going straight. The book said the road I wanted was little more than two parrallel how things change. The road is now a well worn dirt/gravel road with lots of traffic.

The site that I was looking for was supposed to be on the top of a rim. As I climbed the hill and came around the corner I could see a bunch of black rocks. I HAD FOUND IT! Pulling off the road & parking, I got out my bucket & walked out onto the rim. There was Turitella Agate everywhere! Most were smaller pieces - but with alittle looking...there were fist size pieces that would cut some small slabs. There were also some small plates that had nice shells exposed on the top of the agate. I picked up a few of those too.

Road to Agate Bed

Remember, I had said this road was very busy...well it seemed that every truck driver waved as they passed. I always try to be as visible as possible & never trespass on Private property. This area is checkerboarded (One Section BLM, the next Private) so always know where you are. While working the area a truck driver stopped & motioned me over. He asked me if I was picking up that "snail agate", when I told him I was - he got on his radio. Knowing that I was on BLM land I was not really concerned. He talked to his boss back & forth. And then gave me directions to a location on their property that had bigger pieces. I had permission to collect there as long as I stayed away from their equipment. GREAT!

Area on top of the rim

Driving out there, I stopped along the way to look around. At first, I found much the same as the first area until I got closer to the exact area he described. The ground was littered with shells that had eroded from the agate & the area was almost pure black from all the agate. But here again, it seemed that most was smaller pieces. Then I got to looking around I found that people had been digging. This is where they were getting the bigger pieces. I spent some time looking and digging. Always filling the holes back in as much as possible.

Shells & bits of agate
 This stone is very heavy and the shells add an additional sharp edge. If you go, please remember gloves. I didn't have to break any of the larger pieces apart, but you might find the need to. If so, eye protection is a MUST. And as always, respect the landowners anywhere you collect. We don't need to lose anymore collecting areas. There is more development and land usage out here in "The Middle Of Nowhere" than ever before. By being respectful we can keep these places open to collection.

Those pieces of Turitella that I brought home are waiting to be cut. More pictures to come.

Connie - The Polished Pebble

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back from the wilds of Wyoming - The Polished Pebble

Chalk Mountains - Wyoming

Well, we survived another hunting season. Score.....NO Elk - lots of rock. It seems we are on a every other year schedule for getting an elk. On the other hand, rock seems plentiful & is only limited by how far I want to drive & how much weight I can carry back to California. Got to get a bigger truck ;)

This years weather has been interesting everywhere. And the first two weeks of October in Wyoming was right on par with the rest of the weird weather. When we left Bakersfield it was upper 80's to lower 90's....the last few days of Sept. When we arrived in Wyoming it was in the low 80's.....we were hoping for a nice cool down, but mother nature had other ideas.

With few exceptions, the weather stayed very warm our whole trip (2 weeks & a few days). The weather played a big part in the NO ELK. Because it was still so warm, they just weren't moving out of the mountains.

Earlier in the year they had LOTS of water. Which exposed more rock in areas where the pickings had been slim or even unseen. I found the prettiest Agatized Petrified Wood on a friends' ranch that they had never seen before. It had been exposed by the excessive rain earlier in the year...but more on that later.

We have been trying to get everything back to normal here after the trip. The weekend was spent washing clothes, giving the dogs a bath, giving the truck a bath..(should have took pictures before - it was covered in thick sticky mud), mowing the lawn....and the list goes on. One thing I made sure we did was clean out the rock saw. After sitting idle for over two weeks it was fairly easy to drain & then muck out the sludge on the bottom. It is running as I type. Lots of pretties to open.

Here is a look at what we brought home....

Included in the pile is Black Agate, Moss Agate, Agatized Petrified Wood, Turitella Agate, Bull or Snow Quartz, some Jade, Sweetwater Agate and a whole lot of "Pretty" rocks.

Recounts of the daily rockhounding trips to follow - stay tuned.

Connie - The Polished Pebble