Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lately I Hate This Blog

I'm just not inspired to keep up with it. And when some time goes by without a post I feel guilty and it weighs on me, always in the back of my mind. I look at my stats and that's discouraging, too. Over the last 15 posts there have been an average of 14 views and exactly 7 comments. I really appreciate those of you that read and comment, but there's just not enough of you to make me feel like this is a worthwhile effort. So, I'm done. For now. I might be back, though, who knows? I'm at least done until next year.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wrap It Up!

Have you been noticing the wrap bracelets that celebrities are wearing now? I looked them up and they're made by a designer named Chan Luu and they're extremely expensive. Hundreds of dollars.

Photos from www.chanluu.com
Then, I saw this bracelet on Pinterest:

Photo from www.beadshop.com
This one has the gemstones laddered between two lengths of leather cord like the Chan Luu bracelets, but also has sections of woven Chinese knotting cord, giving the bracelet a lot more color. Plus, it wrapped around the wrist five times! The list of "ingredients" and instructions for how to make one are on the website.

That got me thinking... I had some leather cord and lots and lots of beads to choose from. I didn't have Chinese knotting cord, but I did have a huge wad of tangled up embroidery floss in every color imaginable. I also had some silver buttons that I'd bought 20 years ago for some kind of project but had never used. You know where this is going, don't you?

This is the first one I made. I used random colors and some beads that seemed right.

I had so much fun making it that I made another one. This one I planned out and tried to use coordinating colors:

Things I learned:

  • Since the embroidery floss is cotton, not nylon like the Chinese knotting cord, I couldn't burn the ends and had to glue them. So the back is probably not as finished looking as the ones made with the knotting cord.
  • On the first one I used a single strand of black Nymo beading thread for the bead laddering. I was afraid this might not be strong enough, so on the second one I used a #2 beading cord.
  • I understand why the Chan Luu's cost so much. It took me a day and a half to make one of them, so the price of $150-$200 sounds about right to me. If you really, really want one I'd make another just because it was so much fun. Contact me and we'll negotiate price.
  • It's a good idea to only work on these when the cat is sleeping.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Two New Shop Listings

Here's my latest Etsy shop listings. I'm also using Blogger's new iPad app, and I can't see how to link to the shop, or the listings. So, look over on the right side bar and you'll see how to do that.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me!

Last Saturday was my birthday, and I certainly felt special! My sister came to stay for the weekend and we did the tourist thing around downtown Boone, including a shop called the Art of Oil. They have olive oils and vinegars that you can taste and they'll recommend pairings. I brought home some of the pumpkin pie spiced balsamic vinegar, which should make yummy salad dressings this fall. Then we went out to dinner and came home, changed into our jammies, and watched a chick flick and drank wine.

After she left on Sunday some folks picked me up and we went to the movies. We saw "Lincoln", which I thought was excellent and I think there will be several Oscars from that film. All in all, it was the perfect birthday weekend.

The Trunk Show in Charlotte is shaping up. It will be at my friends Douglas and Kimberly's house in the University area on Saturday December 8 from 12:00-4:00 and Sunday December 9 from 12:00 to 3:00. If you need directions, contact me and I'll email them to you off this blog. We don't want her address plastered all over the internet.

It's also time for shameless internet self-promotion. I don't have the advertising budget that the big boys have, but I intend to use every free venue I can find to get my jewelry in front of people. Hopefully they'll think of me when they need that special gift of a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art for someone. I plan to be quite visible.


Thanksgiving is coming up this week. I truly am thankful for all of you that take the time to read this little blog and I hope that you have a wonderful holiday. Don't eat too much turkey! But, if you wind up in a turkey coma you can always shop my etsy shop! (See? It starts already!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Catching Up

So, again, it's been a long time since I posted and there's been a lot going on. First we had a bad storm that they're now calling "Superstorm Sandy". You all know how horrible it was in the north east, so I won't complain too much about the snow that we got. It was too early and that's my only complaint. I got about 4 inches here on the east side of the county, but the west side got a lot, with high drifts. The wind was scary and I prepared for a power outage, but that didn't happen.

Here's a delightful "small world" story for you. Last June I met fellow jewelry artist Donna Whiteside at the PMC Conference in Cincinnati and after the conference we Facebook "friended" each other. Earlier this week she posted that she was camping near Boone, NC. I posted that she was near me and to contact me if she wanted a list of fun things to do. Then another friend of Donna's, Jeanne, piped up and we discovered that Jeanne has known my friend Brenda (who also lives here) for 30 years. So this morning  Brenda and I met Donna and her wife, Linda for coffee and talked to Jeanne on the phone. How cool is that? Wasn't there a movie, Six Degrees of Seperation, that said that everyone is just six steps away from knowing every other person in the world?

Linda, Donna, Me and Brenda

I finished teaching my last class this week. It was bittersweet, but I know I made the right decision to stop teaching, at least through the University. I have a group of women coming in January for private lessons here in my studio and a couple of the students from this last class said they might be interested in individual instruction. That's the way to go for me if I want to make any money at it.

Since I had to fire student work every week I actually got quite a bit of my own work done. I made four more pendants in my flower series, three with glass and one with an opal. I don't know why I love making these little suckers, but I do.

And a few others, to boot. Upper left has a pink sapphire, which didn't turn out so great in the picture. Upper right has a blue topaz. Lower left has a black onyx bullet and I think this would look good on a man. Lower right has a lab ruby and my mixed texture.

I didn't post much about the election here, or on Facebook, because it's all so exhausting to me and I'm horrified by our country's lack of control over campaigns. But, I will say that I am over the moon that we are keeping Barack Obama for four more years. It's great to have a smart, kind and compassionate man running the country.

I have a trunk show coming up in a few weeks, so those of you in Charlotte be on the lookout for details on that. I think that over the next few days I'm going to be on this computer a lot. I need to edit photos and get the ole Etsy Shop ramped up for the holidays. I've decided to sign up to take gift cards and for the direct pay option. We'll see if that helps sales.

I hope y'all are having a great day and I'll try not to be away so long again.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oh, I wish...

I'm done. I have officially made my choices and I know I'm not the only one who is ready for these elections to be finished.  November 6 can't come soon enough. I wish that, when my vote went into the tally machine, a switch could be flipped and I would no longer be exposed to campaign materials. I get on the average of 3 pieces of junk mail each day and probably 4 or 5 robo-calls. Not to mention the bombardment of television ads. And there are so many lies and twisted information that, if you don't do some research yourself, you have no idea who to vote for. We really need some campaign reform in this country and it makes me very sad to think of all the good things that the money spent on a political campaign could do.

In Germany the state and local laws limit campaign billboards and signs to a few weeks before the election. State laws limit campaign advertising in radio and television to a few spots that are allotted in the month preceding the election. By an agreement among the states, the political parties may not purchase any advertising time on radio or television, and are thereby limited to the few officially granted campaign spots. French laws are similar. So civilized!

I'll get off my soap box now.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Valle Country Fair!

On the third Saturday in October, at the peak of the fall leaf season, is the Valle Country Fair, held in a hay field in Valle Crucis NC. It's my big show of the year and I'm excited about the possibility of making some money to pay for some big-ticket items I've been putting off. It's also a really fun day, as my booth space is surrounded by members of my co-op galleries' booths and we turn it in to a social event.

It's only a one day show, but I have to set aside at least three days for this. Today (Friday) is the day to pack the car and go out and set-up. Then all day tomorrow, followed by the chicken dinner at the local middle school. (The 8th-graders raise money for their annual trip.) I'll be exhausted by the time I get home, so Sunday is unload and unpack day.

Our weather has been mild, but right on schedule, it's turning cold for the Fair. Time to break out the long underwear, big coat and gloves. Even though it's a church event, one of my friends always brings a warm toddy of some sort! There's 150 craft booths, music, dancing, story telling and fantastic food. If you're in the area, please stop by my booth!

Monday, October 15, 2012

And The Winner...

by random number generator, of Wanaree Tanner's bezel designs and a starter kit for the Silhouette Cameo is...

Louise Little!!

Congratulations, Louise! Please contact me at zoenelson@bellsouth.net and we'll get these right out to you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Whole 'Nother Week

There's a whole week left to collect entries for the giveaway for Wanaree Tanner's bezel designs and a Starter Kit for the Silhouette Cameo machine.

I have quite a few entries, but there's always room for more people to join in the fun. If you have a Silhouette Cameo, or you are considering purchasing one, you should enter this contest.

Just leave a comment on my original post on this subject:
Lucky Day Giveaway. (<--- click there)

I'll draw a winner next Monday, October 8.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Some Miscellaneous Stuff

Shadows of the last of the coneflowers.

Here's just a few things that have been on my mind lately:

  • I've had a lot of response to my giveaway so far, and there's still time to enter. If you have, or plan to purchase a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, go make a comment on the "Lucky Day Give Away" post to win a Starter Kit and a package of bezel designs by Wanaree Tanner. I'll draw the winner on October 15.
  • I mentioned in that post that I was looking towards retirement (13 months!) and was probably not going to invest in an expensive piece of equipment, and I think people thought I was retiring from a "job". Well, let me clarify that I've been a full time self-employed artist for over 20 years and retirement to me just means that I'll be able to collect my Social Security and I won't have to worry about money quite so much. The transition for me will be from making jewelry because I have to sell it to make a living to being able to do more fun and experimental artistic things. I love to paint and collage and I feel like I will enjoy that more if I'm not telling myself that I'm wasting time. I will NEVER stop working with metals, though!
  • My "Jewelry Making with Metal Clay" class is going really well after the second week. I have a great group of students this time. I have decided, though, that this will be the last one. It's bittersweet because I love teaching - it's so cool to see someone's eyes light up when they've made something beautiful with their own hands but, unfortunately, I just can't make any money doing it any more. The cost of the materials is over 70% of the tuition and it takes up 15 hours of class time and about 36 hours of studio time. It just doesn't make sense. If I could do more teaching here in the studio, instead of at the University, I might consider it.
  • I've had a case of vertigo for the last few days. If you've never had it, it feels like you're drunk without the benefit of alcohol. Dizzy and a little nauseous. Ugh. It's hard to do anything when every time I move my head the world tilts. It makes it hard to sleep, too, because whenever I roll over in bed it feels like the room is spinning. I had a Chiropractic adjustment this morning so let's hope that it goes away soon and the green tinge to my skin is gone.
  • My friend Debbie Keen came over yesterday for another one of our "play dates". Since I have to fire copper clay for students this week, we decided to make some copper pieces of our own to fill up the kiln. I'll post pictures when they're done. It's nice sometimes to work along side someone else and bounce ideas off of each other and share tools and supplies.
  • Autumn is really here. The trees should be at peak color in just a few days, which seems about two weeks early to me. I'm ready for some cool weather and to put my garden to bed for the winter because it's looking very tired and I'm tired of dealing with it. We haven't had a killing frost yet, but that should happen next week.
  • Two weeks ago I did the first of the two art shows that I sign up for now. It was in West Jefferson sponsored by the Ashe County Arts Council. I was very pleased with the turn out and with the amount of money I brought home. I used to do a LOT of shows, but they're too hard on me and I can't do them without help any more. This time I got to spend the day with my friend Janet, which is always a great pleasure, Now, I'm prepping for my second and biggest show, the Valle Country Fair, coming up on October 20. I don't "prep" like I used to when I did LOTS of shows. No more frantically producing as much as possible so that I would have enough. I realize now that "enough" is whatever I have on hand. I do fill in some gaps of things I'm missing or low on, but the frenzied I'M GETTING READY FOR A SHOW is not a part of my life any more. I think this is another cut back, slow down towards my version of retirement.
So, that's an update from me. Remember to enter the contest if you're a Silhouette person. I'll be back later!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lucky Day Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I attempted to attend the online Craftcast presentation called “More I Love Tools”. It was live demonstrations by several artists and the subject was their favorite tools for jewelry making. I could never get the audio to work on my laptop or on my iPad, so I had to leave the class. I was so disappointed! The next morning I get an email from my friend Molli Koltun that I had won a prize during the presentation the night before! Oh boy! How lucky am I? Actually, I was very lucky that day and I should have bought a lottery ticket. In my mail I found an envelope from the North Carolina Department of Revenue and I thought for sure I was being audited. No! There was a check for $100 because somebody (either me or my accountant) made an error on my 2011 tax return. But, I digress… where was I? Oh, yeah, I won something. So I emailed Alison Lee, the brains behind the Craftcast presentations, and told her about my sound issues and that I wasn’t able to attend the live broadcast. In order not to spoil the surprise she only told me that I’d won something during Wanaree Tanner’s presentation and that I could watch a video of the entire presentation shortly.

I’m not good at being patient, but I finally got to watch the 5-part series on YouTube. Wanaree’s favorite tool is the Silhouette Cameo machine (an electronic cutting tool) and she demonstrated how to use it to create a texture in Scratch Foam. This machine plugs in to your computer and usually uses a small blade to cut materials like paper or vinyl. Wanaree had an embossing tool in place of the cutter and that made the impressions in the Scratch Foam. Then she engraved some words directly into dry metal clay. Very cool!

Then she announced that I was the winner of the Silhouette Starter Guide and a collection of Wanaree’s bezel wire designs, a package worth $60! Wah, wha, wha…. I don’t have a Silhouette Cameo machine! And, as I look towards the end of my career and to retirement, I’m really not interested in investing in a high-dollar tool. Darn. But it was still an honor to have won!

The bezel wire designs also come with instructions on how to alter the patterns to fit your stones and a shrinkage and resizing chart. Here are some examples of the bezels:

This is where I actually get to the point of this post: I am re-gifting these items to one lucky winner!! If you have, or plan to purchase a Silhouette Cameo machine you should enter this contest. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling everyone what you love about this machine. Who knows, maybe I'll be convinced to buy one after all. The contest starts today and on Monday, October 15 I will select a random winner from all the entries. Good luck!

Monday, September 24, 2012


I just want everyone to know that I haven't fallen off a cliff, or something. There just hasn't been much to blog about. But, I'm taking this opportunity now to give y'all some advance notice that there is a big give-away coming soon. Stay tuned. I'm working out the details right now.

The goldenrod is in full bloom, the Monarch butterflies are headed south, the hummingbirds have slowed way down and we had our first light frost this morning. I think it's about two weeks early, but I'm grateful for some cooler temperatures.

I'll post more about the give-away soon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Tumbler Loves Me!

I use a tumber to make my jewelry all clean and shiny. For those of you who don't know what a tumbler is, or how it works, it's a plastic barrel that rolls around on a motorized base. The barrel is filled with these little metal pieces called "shot" and when I put the jewelry in I cover everything with water and a little liquid soap. As the barrel rolls around the shot and the metal jewelry rub together and the shot makes the jewelry nice and shiny. It takes a minimum of an hour and it's a low-effort way to achieve a high shine on several pieces at once.

This is the tumbler barrel
Way back when I first got the tumbler I mistakenly bought carbon steel shot instead of stainless steel shot. (Carbon steel was cheaper and that's probably why.) Since carbon steel will rust I have to be careful to completely let it dry before I store it until next time. So when the tumbling is finished I dump the shot and the jewelry into a strainer and rinse it all off and pick out the shiny jewelry. Then I spread out the shot on a kitchen towel to dry:

Shot drying on a towel

When the shot is completely dry I scoop it to store it in the tumbler barrel. I pick up the edges of the towel to gather it together in the center and every time this is what I see:

It's a shot heart! I mean, a heart out of shot...
Every time! I don't mean to make a heart out of my tumbler shot. It's the Universe telling me that my tumbler loves me. It must be.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Smooth Sailing

I read my horoscope this morning and it said:
"Today you should have a very strong sense of well-being. Your inner self is functioning harmoniously, and you do not feel emotional turmoil or strife. You are not in the mood for adventures, challenges and major changes, nor is it necessary to be so."
Nice, huh? And it's true. There really hasn't been a lot on my mind, and definitely nothing that would put me in a mood like I was in a few weeks ago. I seem to be at the top of the wave right now, and it feels good.

I have been in the studio because it finally feels like what I want to do. I've just been moseying along doing what inspires me. Here's a few of the new things:

Three new pieces with the beautiful dichroic glass I got at the Gem Show last July.

This one has a lab ruby.

I'm going to try and do an Etsy Shop update this weekend. I've found some more studio stash that I'd like to get rid of and I'll list some new things, too. Maybe I'll list these four!

Have a great holiday weekend, everyone, and stay safe!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Working From Home

I read a Facebook status by Rice Freeman-Zachery this morning that reminded me that I wanted to write a post about this subject. She wrote:
"People think working at home alone means you don't have a schedule and can do anything at any time. Working home alone means you HAVE to have a schedule. No big deal. Getting other people to understand that is The Big Deal."
It's true that I do have some flexiblity in my schedule, but in order to get enough jewelry made I generally need to sit down in the studio by 9:00 in the morning, work through until lunch time, which is ususally between 1:00 and 2:00, and try to stop by 5:00. That's the plan in my head, anyway. It doesn't always work out like that.

There's always too many distractions. The phone rings. A lot. The laundry needs to be moved along, there's a housework chore to take care of, a neighbor stops by, the cat barfed on the carpet, oooh, look at that bird at the feeder and it needs to be filled... you get the picture. Because I not only work alone, I live alone. So all the stuff that other people have a spouse or partner or roommate to help out with, I do myself. Without a semi-firm schedule I'd bounce around and accomplish nothing.

I try to loosely schedule "studio time", "chore time", "paperwork and computer time" and "town time" each week so that I'm at least organized in that way. And four days a month working in the co-op galleries, too. (That's not really "town time", because it's hard to get out of the house early enough to run errands and at the end of the day I just want to get home.)

Then there's the problem of working all the time and never taking time off. There's certain parts of my work that are mindless tasks and get done in the evenings in front of the TV. Weekends, holidays... what are they? One day kind of runs into another and quite often I need to consult a calendar to know what day it is.

I think because my lifestyle is so different from most folks it's hard for them to understand that I really am working! I don't eat bon-bons and watch soaps all day. I have to do it ALL, and it annoys me when people say, in a derrogatory way, that I don't have a job. Or worse, tell me to get a REAL job! Is a the only "real" job one where I'd have to work away from home for someone else? Do they think what I do is just a hobby? Geez! Follow me around for a week and see what kind of job I have!

Perhaps if money was foremost in my mind, I might take on a second job, one away from home that pays well and has health benefits, but that's just not me. I've been there, done that, and found out I'm really not a good employee at all. I don't tow the line or follow rules very well. I question things. I think that's part of an artist's personality. Even though I don't make a lot of money, I love being independent and knowing that I'm the only one who will make decisions on how I live my life, even though that can be worrisome sometimes. And I've learned to live with what I have and not yearn for things that are unnecessary or are beyond my means.

So, rant over, I'll sign off now. Computer time is almost over and I haven't done my daily allotment of pinning on Pinterest yet. I'll be in the studio tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Version of a Luna Moth

It took me awhile, but I finally finished my rendition of a Luna Moth in fine silver. I decided to use plain white 3 mm cubic zirconias for the "eyes" since I didn't duplicate the beautiful green color of the moth and I wanted it to be as simple as possible. It measures 1.75 inches across the wings and I usually don't make pieces this large, but I had to be able to capture the detail of the wings as much as I could. I used Scratch Foam for the basic design and an xacto knife for the fine veins. Now all it needs is a chain.

Below is a picture of one of the two I saw last July. You can read about it here. I based my design on this photo.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Black Cat Appreciation Day

Cinder has been gone for almost 2 years. I think today is a good day to put his ashes on the flower garden because it was his favorite spot to catch mice and bugs.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Charity Bracelet Raffle

Shortly after I opened my Etsy shop in 2009 I joined the Etsy Metal Clay Team. My purpose was to gain more exposure to my shop, but it's turned out to be that and soooo much more. We are a worldwide group of women who have become close friends, some of which I had the pleasure of meeting in person at the PMC Conference last June.

In the past few months two of our team members have passed away. Lucia Gulino and Mieko Takahashi Shull were both talented artists and cherished team participants. In their honor we have created two charm bracelets out of metal clay to be raffled off in their honor. (You can see my copper charm on the first bracelet, below.) The proceeds will go to charities that they were passionate about. A ticket is $5.00 and you get a chance at both bracelets, so two chances with one ticket!

Please go to the Etsy Metal Clay blog for more information about the charities and to get your raffle ticket. It's as easy as clicking on the "Donate" button. The drawing will be held on September 30.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Oh... I Know It's Been a Long Time, and Here's Why

Photo by Dale Forrest
Sometimes time just gets away from me. Sometimes I don't even know what day it is unless I really think about it. And, I've been in a very dark, crappy mood, and who wants to write a blog post when you feel like that? Sorry. I think I'm coming out of it now. Mercury being retrograde sure didn't help with that situation one bit.

When I get like this I tend to isolate myself and hope that nobody messes with me and the more I'm by myself the weirder I get. I fall into a pit that I just can't get out of until the time is right and I'm done wallowing. I've never been so bad that I needed medication but this time a friend had to intervene. She told me to snap out of it because this just wasn't like me. She made me cry, but it's true.  I'm usually a posititive person and I know that what you put out into the Universe is what you get back.

So, here's the stuff that's been on my mind. Maybe if I write it here I will purge my head and it will all go away... maybe...
  • My rib still hurts. Not too bad, but if I move a certain way, or cough, it hurts big time. Ice packs and ibuprofen are my friends. Being in pain makes me cranky and it seems like I just can't catch a break. First, I had hives for eight months in 2011 and a hospital visit because of anaphylaxis related to that. Then, in April of this year I had pneumonia and was in the hospital again. Now, this rib thing. I wish I could wake up just one morning and not be hurt or sick.
  • Every time I get a little ahead financially, something comes along that wants that money. Extra visits to the Chiropractor and Acupuncturist, hiring someone to do the yard work I can't do right now, an already-put-off-twice Dentist appointment, tires for the car... stuff like that. Thank goodness for credit cards!
  • There's going to be a big price increase for PMC on September 1st. I ordered enough clay for the next class that's scheduled to start at the end of September, but this will be the last one. I can't make any money teaching for the University any more. The cost of my class is already the highest of all the Craft Enrichment classes they offer, and I just can't make a profit that's worth my time and effort any more. I wish there were enough people interested in private classes - I'd do that in a heartbeat. I have room in my house/studio to teach 4 or 5 at a time. Know anyone interested?
  • My garden, which usually brings me a lot of joy, looks like crap. It's overgrown and crowded and weedy and I can't do much about it until I'm healed up. And I caught my neighbor stealing from my mulch pile. His excuse was "I only needed a little bit.", but I think he took a trailer full. Sneaky S.O.B. waited until I was gone and helped himself. If I had a pickup truck and the gumption, I'd go down there with my pitchfork and get it back. He said he'd pay for it, but I don't expect to ever see that money.
  • There was a horrible incident up the road from me a couple of weeks ago where a man was threatening his family and someone called the law. The man shot and killed a Sherriff's Deputy, then the Deputy's partner killed the man. Nothing like that has ever happened around here and it felt like there was this cloud of death hanging over the entire hollow. ("Holler", as it's called around here.) I smudged my house and property to clear out the negativity and it feels much better now.
So, I'm working on getting out of this funk and I've enjoyed spending quite a bit of time in the studio. I've done some cleaning and purging and looking through all the stuff I have and trying to figure out what to make with the new things I got at the gem show, and I've actually finished a few things to the firing point. (If they're successful, I'll share them here.) I'm pondering new directions and thinking that in 15 months I'll be able to "retire". I don't think I'll ever quit making jewelry, but with Social Security and a small pension, I won't have to depend on it supporting me, which will be a huge relief. In the meantime I'm looking at classes to develop new skills and doing some practice to polish up some rarely used skills so that I can look at using different materials. Let's hope things are looking up for me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Gem Show

Every July for the past several years I've trekked off to the southwestern corner of North Carolina to attend one of the biggest gem and mineral shows on the east coast. It's held near of Franklin, North Carolina, which is an area that mines emeralds, rubies and sapphires, as well as many other gemstones. Franklin is about four hours from me, but I have a friend who lives only an hour from there, so I also use the time to visit with her.

The show consists of two areas: the indoor show, which is open only to buyers that have a re-sale license. These sellers have the strings of beads, the cut stones, and all the pieces and parts, tools and display equipment that a jeweler would need. The other area is the outdoor show, which is open to the public and these are the folks that sell lots of "rocks". The raw stones that are just dug from the Earth.  I buy mainly from the indoor show, but we arrived before it opened, so we wandered around the outdoor booths.

Giant Amethyst
Giant Topaz
A huge quartz crystal (as long as my arm) that has clusters of pink and green tourmaline on it.

A table of clear quartz crystals with a rose quartz mixed in.

Close up of quartz crystals. So pretty.

I don't know what these are, but they look like little alien eggs.

This ball is about a foot across. Again, I don't know what the stone is, but it has a very cool mosaic pattern.

Table after table of raw stones waiting to be cut and polished.

Soooo.... what did I buy? Not much this time. I'm trying to stick to a budget and I wasn't feeling up to shopping because my rib was hurting again. But here's what I did get:

Some bluish-black pearls.

I was told that these are brown and green onyx, which I've never heard of. (of which I've never heard...) Who knows if the people even know themselves what they're selling? All I know is that I was attracted to these big Wilma Flintstone beads.

Two sizes of hematite. Not the magnetic kind, though, because they're annoying to work with.

A big pile of beautiful dichroic glass from Renaissance Glass.
And some interesting silver beads and rings.

It was fun, but I was disappointed in myself. It's bad when your body gives out before your shopping urges do, but I probably saved myself a lot of money. There will be another smaller one in Asheville in October, and it's closer to home. Meanwhile, I have some new things to inspire new designs. I can't wait to play!