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 Wyoming....you 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 ruts...my 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

Friday, September 10, 2010

Birthday Rumblings with The Polished Pebble

Picture from vacation in Wyoming 2010

Hello all....today is my birthday. And I have a few thoughts I would like to share.....I am old, but not THAT OLD. Not old enough to get the Senior Discount or collect Social Security - but old enough to have a pretty good grasp on things. So, you can continue reading or not...your choice.

I was born here in Bakersfield, CA to my parents Don & Rose. Hard working, middle class people that wanted what most people do. A home, family, friends & a comfortable living for which they were willing to work for. I was the first of three daughters. And for the most part they found what they were looking for and lived the life they wanted. That is not to say they didn't make sacrifices or didn't do things they didn't want to do - they had their share of problems, but overcame them.

My parents were raised in a much different world. My father started life on a farm in Oklahoma, one of 5 children. They eventually became migrant farm workers - yes, there were WHITE migrant farm workers. At 14 his mother kicked him out on his own. He worked odd jobs and worked his way to California looking for his father who had left a year before. Thru all of this he still managed to keep going to school and graduated from High School. Today, over 1/3 of the current High School students will drop out & never return for a diploma.

Working & saving he made his way to Bakersfield because of the agricutural jobs. Working side by side with many different people of different backgrounds & races. The work was the same no matter what your skin color or where you came from. Throughout his life, he only saw a person by their deeds, if they were honest & trustworthy or not. While working as a farm laborer, he came in contact with the birth of the United Farm Workers Union. He was never impressed with their attitude or their tactics. And one thing that always came thru, if you weren't "Mexican" - you weren't a TRUE farm laborer. They created a very hostile situation that affected everyone. While their efforts gained much needed improvements, they also caused many harm.

My father had a chance to escape the fields with a job working for Western Electric. But he had to pay his union dues up front, before they would give him the job. So, he was working picking cotton (I have a cotton picking sack that my dad saved from those days) at the time...cutting back his eating to one meal a day for a month he was able to save enough money to pay the dues. He worked for Western Electric, AT&T and finally Lucent Tech. (as they changed their names) for 43 years. How many people can do that today?

My mother on the other hand, came from a very different upbringing. My grandfather came over from France on a boat with his family. He was the baby of 6. They made their way to Bakersfield and my grandfather became a local police officer. My grandmother was a very indepenent soul & their marriage was rocky. They split when my mother was a teen. But she still had a very sheltered life. Private school was a struggle to afford - but they did. After graduation she went to work for the Telephone Company. And that is where my parents met.

From my parents backgrounds...my world was formed. Add the goings on in the world & it is easy to see where my opinions lie. We had a pretty comfortable life. My dad made good money, while my mom did her best to spend it. But my dad was always keeping some back. He lived too much of his life with so little....until the day he passed, he carried over $1000 in his wallet. He hated credit cards & always paid for his things in cash.

Mom did the PTA & girl scouts stuff. Volunteered where she was needed. We grew up pretty spoiled, but were never allowed to take anything for granted. Dad always made sure of that. And to add to my grounded nature, I spent most my free time with my grandparents. And their view of the world colored my evaluations even more. Sadly, they are all gone now. The world has continued to change & I'm not happy about alot of it.

I raised 4 children of my own. They have all graduated from high school. We did scouts, both Boy & Girl Scouts. Two sons earned their Eagle Scout rank. I ran day camps, resident camps, adult trainings for other leaders & so on. We all did band & colorguard. Traveling to competitions, helping out & being a parent to the kids who's parents didn't have the time. Would I have done thing differently, somethings - yes. But overall - no. You do the best you can & hope it takes. My children are out on their own now. They were over Monday (Labor Day) for barbeque & tonight we are going out for my birthday. But I worry....

Times have changed - but more importantly...people have changed. Everyone seems to be in such a great hurry. And they have to be constantly available. Leaving a message is not acceptable anymore. Heck, I can remember when if we called anyone on the phone & they didn't answer...we just called back later. And you know what? It was OK - the world didn't come to an end.

But for all the problems we all face, if we could get past this one thing the world would be a much nicer place to live. What is that thing you ask.....ENTITLEMENT. It seems that everyone today thinks they are entitled to do or say or even act any way they see fit without any concern for how it affects others. WE have become so absorbed in what we want that we don't even look beyond to the bigger picture of how our actions affect others.

So here's my birthday wish.....May you find happiness in the little things...may your day be full of good thoughts...may your work be light and your life be peaceful...but most importantly, may you make the world just alittle bit better place to be.

Connie - The Polished Pebble

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy.....As The Slab Saw Cuts with The Polished Pebble

Mystery Agate

Mystery Stone

Wyoming Geode

The slab saw has been humming all day....something about an unusually cool day that makes hauling rock up to the saw not as big a chore. It has been blissfull these past 4 days & we have gotten tons of work done outside. But the heat is going to settle back in & we will be back to normal for August in Bakersfield. And for those that don't know...it get HOT here. And we normally shut off the saws early.

Above is some of the stuff we have been cutting.....more pictures tomorrow

Monday, August 30, 2010

Going Ahh...Natural With The Polished Pebble

Ok, so just what did you think we were talking about???? Natural edged or natural finished Gemstones....right? Well, that's what were talking about.  : )

The organic look & feel of natural edged stones has always intrigued us. We love the newest trend in jewelry towards this edge. Designer jewelry have come along way from the "If it isn't gold with faceted gemstones - it isn't a designer piece."

There are artists out there on the cutting edge using copper, brass, aluminum, right along with silver, gold and even platinum. They are mixing faceted stones with cabochons....gemstone beads with raw crystals. Polished gemstone slabs...and even 100% natural wind polished pieces. Not only as accents - but as the focal piece of their creation.

We have always picked up those interesting pieces on our trips. And they have a place in our home and our yard. But until recently, they have not been offered for sale. Currently we have a number of interesting "Natural" pieces on our website The Polished Pebble .

Natural Jasper Nodule

 Many are found while out rockhounding. But just as many are found just where ever we happen to be. We are always looking for neat & unusual pieces to offer others or for our own collections.

You never know what you will find. Sometimes you come home empty handed - other times you find some real keepers.

Wind Polished Stylized Heart

There is a large demand for natural edged Gemstone Slabs that are polished front & back. We currently only list some slices of Oco Geodes on our site. One thing to remember, not all Oco's are created equal. Just like any other gemstone...there are different grades. You can find Oco Geode slices marketed for a buck a piece. But they will be pretty junk...not colorful treasures.

Oco Geode Gemstone Slice

We are looking to expand our offerings to other slabs like this.......

Dark Cherry Jasper Natural Edged Polished Slab

But one of our latest pieces is a real treasure. And remember, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".....

This is the outside of one of our Wyoming Geode - Nodules that come from a friends' ranch. We just love that organic feel. When this end piece came off the saw it just spoke to us. And under that interesting exterior.....

Some beautiful agate. The finished pendant will be a real conversation starter. And there will never be another one like it.

On the down side....while alot of people are looking for the unusual pieces. Some balk at paying much for "FOUND" pieces. To that we reply, our costs include gas, wear & tear on our truck, time & marketing. If you want them for free - they're out there...go find them.

For those that are looking for that "One Of A KIND" piece - check out our website  The Polished Pebble

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Working with Horse Canyon Agate - The Polished Pebble

We have been pulling out some awesome pieces of Horse Canyon Agate from the pile here lately. It seems that it was time to work a few.

For those that don't know this stone, you are missing out. Found in the mountains just east of Tehachapi, CA - Horse Canyon Agate is a well known - if not world known gemstone. Most will easily recognize the green to blue green moss in clear agate that comes from this location. But if that is all you think there is....you are sadly mistaken.

                                                 Horse Canyon Moss Agate Cabochon

Beautiful moss agate - in colors not found anywhere else. But, that is just the beginning. There is an unbelievable range of agate found in this area. From a multitude of different colored mosses in clear, amber, blue & even black agate. Most are the signature wispy type - but there is MORE. There is tube agate, saginite, plume & agate that has a jumble of all of them.

Now the down side - it is not available for collection anymore. Yes, I know....we seem to be hearing that with more & more of the stones we work with. Either the landowner doesn't allow collecting anymore (which is the case with this stone) or it is totally extinct, or even better - it is in the middle of a military base. Even worse are the areas that some politicians lock up in "Wilderness Areas". Oh yea, you can still walk in. But who wants to walk 50, 60, 100 miles in to carry out a backpack full of stone? Never mind that most people could not physically do that if they wanted to.

Luckily, we have a stash of Old Stock material & we will be cutting some Killer Cabs from this stone. We just recently cut up a piece. And here is what we found.......

   An end cut! WOW!!!!!!

A slice......

                                                       A finished cab....well, sort of

As we were shaping this beauty, it became apparent that the vugs with the beautiful crystal druzy were being lost in the grinding & polishing. We were on the fence about either leaving them or filling them in. Even as I am typing this....I am still thinking. But I think in the long run, we will fill them in since there is so little left...they kind of just look lost. So tomorrow this little beauty will be listed on our website The Polished Pebble for those that might be interested. You won't be disappointed.

If you want to see more of what this gemstone can look like, you need to check out Agates With Inclusions for their amazing collection of Horse Canyon Agate. The owner, Pat McMahan has a collection of unbelievable agates. It is guaranteed you will have "Agate Envy" after seeing what is there.

Looking for that special Gemstone to complete your latest jewelry project? Or maybe you want to add to your collection of beautiful & rare Cabochons. The Polished Pebble could have just what you are looking for. If not, we do custom orders. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back Into The Blog - Gemstone Cabochons And More With The Polished Pebble

We are making an effort to keep up with all the different facets of this "social networking" aspect of our business. And sadly, our blog has been lacking....so from here on out we have a "NEW" commitment to start posting interesting info daily.

Discussions on gemstones and their influence on our daily lifes. Our current projects & stones we are working with. Rockhounding field trips with lots of pictures of where we go & what we find.

We are also going to bring alittle mystic perspective into our daily posts. If you are a believer or not, we think it will be an interesting addition. And those who are making and marketing their jewelry can add another layer of info to their pieces.

So, to our longtime friends who have followed our blog - We're Back. To our new friends -  Welcome!

As always, please check out our website for our lastest offerings of Designer Gemstone Cabochons in beautiful & unusual designs and materials. Many types of stone that are not available anywhere else - our "Polished Pebble Exclusives".    The Polished Pebble