Posts Tagged ‘Bumblebee Jasper’

Tucson Gem, Mineral, & Fossil Shows 2014-Rough Rocks & Eggs

Friday, February 7th, 2014
Aquamarine Crystals

Aquamarine Crystals

Labradorite in the sun.

Labradorite in the sun.

We really were going to take the day off, but 65 and sunny changed our minds.  I try to avoid attending bead shows, but most of the shows we have attended had plenty of beads.  The difference between a bead show and another show is that they are the same, except that any of the outdoor shows the beads are dirtier!   Shopping for beads is not my thing, but I do out of my good will take my wife to a random bead show to let her look for beads and things she didn’t know she needed.

To Bead True Blue at the Doubletree Tree Inn was our destination this morning.  We did find a parking spot which was a good way to start.  Bonnie likes to see the gadgets and new products demonstrated and sold at this show.  This is the place to find out about new techniques. If vendors have time they are helpful in explaining their new products and their uses.  Happily I found a pair of pliers that I have been searching for to do detailed wire-wrapping.  You could buy vintage items, handmade bezels, tools for hot gluing crystals, wire, threads, cords and seed beads of all kinds and colors, wire that had been enameled, stamping tools, cabochons, glass beads, and lots more.  Bonnie bought some new bezels to use with crystal clay and small stones, some threads and supplies to try out kumihimo, and some silk ribbons for jewelry.  She looked at some other new things but decided that she had 3-4 new processes that she wanted to try and that was more than enough.  Meanwhile I sat on a “guy chair” along with another fellow and we had a good chat.

I've mentioned the 22nd Street Show many times.  Here is the tent.

I've mentioned the 22nd Street Show many times. Here is the tent.

After lunch we picked up Holly, our daughter, who lives not far from the “strip”.  We looked through 22nd Street show then walked over to the shows at the Clarion and Howard Johnsons. We revisited some areas and found some areas we previously skipped.

Clarion & Howard Johnson

Clarion & Howard Johnsons

Behind these two shows is the one of largest selection of rough rock in Tucson, at El Paso Rocks, piles of rock and 50 gallon drums.   The girls were intrigued with the Bumble Bee Jasper (not jasper). The rough has an outer core that is very gray and colorless, in big contrast to the vivid colors of the best Bumblebee Jewelry. As we went back through the Rhodoco tent  I went through their cabs for those that might have metal inclusions.  I was told that the metal inclusions in rhodochrosite are a combination of silver, lead, and pyrite. I searched out a few pieces.  I think these unusual cabochons make distinctive jewelry. I’ll show you tomorrow.

Elephant Bird Eggs

Elephant Bird Eggs

morerandomcrystals

Holly found a likeness of her dog.

Holly found a likeness of her dog.

bigcrystals

Holly & Bonnie liked the Bumblebee at El Paso Rock Shop.

Holly & Bonnie liked the Bumblebee at El Paso Rock Shop.

El Paso is the rough rock king in Tucson

El Paso is the rough rock king in Tucson

I liked this one.

I liked this one.

Trilobites at a Moroccan dealer

Trilobites at a Moroccan dealer

Coprolite

Coprolite

As I toured around today I took assorted pictures that I thought would be of interest.  Enjoy the show.

Finding the Ent

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

It’s about time I showed you some of the jewelry I made from all that stuff I bought in Quartzite and Tucson in February. I have been working both in my shop and on my workbench.

This is just so wild.

This is just so wild.

Another really cool Bumblebee.

Another really cool Bumblebee.

One of the most popular stones in Tucson this year was Bumblebee “Jasper”.  It is not really Jasper, but is a mix of minerals in a matrix of a volcanic Tuft from the island of Java in Indonesia.  Most of the Bumblebee we saw was just yellow and black, but I was lucky to find one dealer that went to Java and hand-picked some of the best material that I have ever seen.  These Cabochons were bright pumpkin orange and black.

Treebeard the Ent.

Treebeard the Ent.

I bought some wonderful Yellow Feather Dendritic Jasper from Utah. Dendrites are tree-like Manganese inclusions in a rock, and make wonderful pictures.  The Pendant I show you in this blog stood out when I cut a slab off the host rock.  I am a big Hobbit fan and I actually saw what looked like the Ent named Treebeard in it.  ”Hroom, hm, come my friends.”  He’s taking Merry, Pippin, and the Ents in a charge on Isengard.  Now where else can you get a totally natural depiction of a Lord of the Rings character for your stone jewelry?

Blue Biggs.

Blue Biggs.

Biggs Jasper is a long-time favorite with lapidary types.  It is quite scarce now but back in the 60’s the famous Blue Biggs was very popular.  Biggs was re-discovered while building a road, and the best that came out was Blue Biggs. The reason I say it was re-discovered is that Native Americans made arrowheads from this Jasper for many years.  Some Biggs was also used for landscaping. I found a nice chunk and this pendant is one cab from this spectacular picture Jasper.

Dinosaur Bone-WOW

Dinosaur Bone-WOW

There were many sellers of Dinosaur Bone at all the shows, but when I saw a D-Bone slab with a red agate inclusion, I just had to have it for a special piece of fossil bone jewelry.

Royal Imperial Jasper

Royal Imperial Jasper

Royal Imperial Jasper has just such spectacular patterns and pastel colors.  I really like this stuff, found in Zacatecas, Mexico about 50 miles north of the city of Guadalajara.  Does is remind you of Edvard Munch?

Smithsonite

Smithsonite

Smithsonite from the famous Glove Mine in Arizona caught my eye.  These stones had unusual colors, and made some really lovely jewelry.

It was a real pleasure to find the oldest living thing in Middle Earth in my stone pile.  One of the reasons I cut rocks and  make jewelry is because I love these unexpected visions.  Stay tuned for the next finds!

Snoopy and the Red Agate

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

I haven’t written an “On the Workbench” blog in some time, but I thought I would let you see what I’ve done with some of the stuff I brought back from the shows in Arizona. Check the back blogs to review.

Bumblebee Jasper is not really a Jasper.  Finding bright orange Bumblebee is uncommon.

Bumblebee Jasper is not really a Jasper. Finding bright orange Bumblebee is uncommon.

One of the things that seemed all over Tucson this year was Bumblebee Jasper. This orange and black (but usually yellow and black) rock comes from Volcanic vents on the island of Bali in Indonesia. It is a mis-nomer to refer to Bumblebee as Jasper. It is neither Jasper, nor is it an Agate. The rock is in reality an Anhydrite/Sulfur/Hematite with welded volcanic tuft (ash). This stuff varies widely in hardness and contains many hole and flaws, so it is tricky to make a decent gemstone. It is also hard to find bright orange. The pendant I made looks like an evil mask. The stone was so flashy it did not need a fancy wrap.

Keswick Agate

Keswick Agate

I cut a Keswick Agate from Keswick, Iowa, leaving quite a bit of ordinary Quartz on the side. This was intentional. I envisioned using some of my wire over the Quartz to really enhance the eye-like pattern of the Agate. A plain wrap, like I did on the Bumblebee, would not work with the Keswick. Keswick Agate is difficult to obtain and good Keswick is hard to find.

Picture Petrified Wood from near Holbrook, Arizona

Picture Petrified Wood from near Holbrook, Arizona

Picture Petrified Wood comes from near Holbrook, Arizona. One of our oldest and dearest friends sells Petoskey Stones in Tucson. She wanted a pendant and swapped me some of her Dendritic Picture Wood for making this pendant for her.

Faceted Aquamarine and Amethyst; simply wrapped;simply beautiful.

Faceted Aquamarine and Amethyst; simply wrapped;simply beautiful.

I wrapped a really fine faceted Aquamarine as well as another of Amethyst. I wrapped these so they can flip over while being worn.

Thomsonite of this quality is always popular.

Thomsonite of this quality is always popular.

The Keweenaw Peninsula and Grand Marais, Minnesota both supply the beautiful Ziolite, Thomsonite. Dark eyed Thomsonite from the north shore is the most coveted. I was just mindlessly looking around the AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) show and happened to glance down a side isle and spot a couple trays in the bottom of a display case. My eye immediately focused in on a Thompsonite. I could not believe such a gemstone would exist in a show full of common Diamonds, Rubies, and Sapphires. This one even has copper inclusions.

I asked the lady at the booth if I could look at the two trays. In a humorous manner she said, “Oh, you want to look in my junk box?” I for sure wanted to get at that “junkbox”, and found several other treasures as well as this Thomsonite.

When the dealer dropped and broke one of my Malachite slices, I immediately thought of earrings to go with the bullseye pendant.

When the dealer dropped and broke one of my Malachite slices, I immediately thought of earrings to go with the bullseye pendant.

I could not help but purchase a perfect slice of Bullseye Malachite. I dislike cutting this stuff, but put my mask and gloves on, and went to it. What a great Pendant I made from the cab. The earrings came from the second slice off the same rock, but the owner of the business dropped it on the floor at checkout, and the slab broke in half. He gave me the two pieces, so I used them. I hate wasting good material.

Snoopy?

Snoopy?

Speaking of Malachite, I saw Snoopy in a piece. Cool stuff.

Watermelon Tourmaline

Watermelon Tourmaline

Not much bigger than a dime, two other fantastic little pendants of Watermelon Tourmaline and Montana Agate called me. I have seldom seen a small agate with such a fantastic natural picture. Watermelon Tourmaline is the most coveted breed of this gemstone. Good Tourmaline, like this one, are always popular, no matter the price.

A small Montana Agate with a "big sky" picture.

A small Montana Agate with a "big sky" picture.

Yellow Cat

Yellow Cat

Another rare red Yellow Cat.

Cardinal Candy: Another rare red Yellow Cat.

Yellow Cat Petrified wood is from remote regions of Utah, and was used by Tiffany back in the day. Yellow Cat is the brightest red of any petrified wood. It is really  an amazing and scarce agate. I was very excited to see some at one of the Tucson Shows. The dealer told me people walked by his supply all day; not recognizing it for what it was. I am happy my mind is full of knowledge on many rare rocks.

You hardly ever see Blue Lace Agate Drusy.

You hardly ever see Blue Lace Agate Drusy.

Bonnie is especially fond of Blue Lace Agate.  Imagine her thrill when I found some Blue Lace Drusy. Drusy means it contains pockets full of millions of tiny Quartz Crystals.  This one I made into a designer cut beauty.

The workbench and the shop are still busy. I am so pleased with all the jewelry grade rocks I obtained out west, and am still exceedingly busy and thrilled about making a new crop of jewelry. I also enjoy sharing with you guys.

Saving Tibet & Hunting Rocks

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

87 degrees, gas $3.05 Life is Good

desertgardenssign

As I write this series of our adventures in the West, I first have to tell you that we will be on the alert to tell you about things that we don’t see in Northern Michigan on a regular basis. The temperatures and the gas prices are the first things!

Leaving Phoenix today, Bonnie noticed the sticker on the car ahead of us that said: “Save Tibet”. This is rather uncommon back home. Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to saving Tibet, but I am saying that it is not a hot topic back home.

We spent the night in Phoenix and discovered Sam’s Café in the Arizona Center that served a most delicious meal, what I described as crab cake tacos (although they had an appropriate Mexican name—this is just my translation). Bonnie enjoyed a Rico Rita, a Marguerita with coconut rum, spiced rum, Tuaca, and pineapple juice. Bonnie’s drink was sweeter than the one I had, and she was in a state of bliss. The chips were a mix of several types and were delicious, in case you wanted to know!

There was little competition for rocks in the morning at the Desert Gardens Show

There was little competition for rocks in the morning at the Desert Gardens Show

We thought this was a fitting sign we saw in Parker.

We thought this was a fitting sign we saw in Parker.

Now about the rock shopping! We headed to Quartzite Arizona, (aka the biggest RV campground in the USA). In the winter months Quartzite swells with rockhounds, RV enthusiasts and flea market fanatics. The three main events for rockhounds are the PowWow, put on by the local rock club, a large show in an area called Desert Gardens, and the Tyson Wells Show. Here are some secrets: There are no gardens at the Desert Gardens Show, there is no real PowWow at the Powwow, and I’ve not seen any wells at the Tyson Wells. Oh yeah, there’s also no Quartzite at Quartzite! Several other small shows offer vendors selling their wares–flags, knives, whatever. Our favorite full time rock place is T-Rock, friends from Calumet, Mike and Theresa. Their location on the west end of town is loaded with tons of rough lapidary rock of consistent high quality.

The Pow Wow and the Desert Gardens shows could be described as flea markets for rock hounds. Vendors come from all around the world to sell their stone, slabs, jewelry, carvings, and much more.. You can never tell what you might find, that’s the fun of it. Quartzite is the common man’s rock show—more quirky. Many of the Tucson shows are more upscale, with fancier displays, more sedate. Each show has it’s own character.

Our Quartzite Adventure started at the Desert Gardens show. This is a tailgate type of show where people set up their RV with their wares outside their doors. They put out their excess and we come along and buy it! This has always been a fun and friendly show. Vendors generally have time to talk to customers about their local rocks and jewelry. Many of the dealers collected the rocks they sell, and I love to hear their trivia about rocks and minerals, as you all know!

If you had the cash a vertebrate section could be had.

If you had the cash a vertebrate section could be had.

Outstanding color in these.  the one in the middle was $1200.

Outstanding color in these. the one in the middle was $1200.

My first purchase was at the first booth we came to. Wade’s Woods and Rocks from Utah specializes in dinosaur bone and has an assortment of petrified wood. I immediately spotted some bright red polished pieces in a small tray with what appeared to be the very rare Yellow Cat petrified wood. My suspicions were confirmed on this and I was told I was the only person who recognized it and knew what it was. Tiffany used this material in days of yore to make great jewelry because of the brilliant red coloration. There is not much of it around any more, so, it is not often seen or known. The specimen I have at home is a remarkable piece I considered making jewelry from, but it is such a nice specimen I hesitated to cut it up. I feel better to have bought these smaller pieces that will be perfect for jewelry.

Remarkable Bumblebee's from Java.

Remarkable Bumblebee's from Java.

I found some very nice Bumble Bee Jasper from Java (Indonesia) at J2B2 Rock & Equipment. (This is really a Travertine not a Jasper, but we’ll get into that some other time!) The gentleman that cuts this material, David Dickinson, was also in the booth, and pulled out some remarkable pieces that he had cut and polished. Bumble Bee Jasper is sometimes pitted and hard to work with, but the piece I purchased seems to have enough silica in it to be solid enough for great jewelry.

I found a NEW (to me) jasper—Hog Creek Jasper from southern Idaho. The reds and yellows form a mossy pattern with a clear bluish agate background reminding me of Wingate Agate.

Hog Creek Jasper.

Hog Creek Jasper.

We had to wear sunscreen and return often to the car for our water stash. Ah, Arizona in the winter! Tomorrow the PowWow opens. We will be there with bells on!

Bumblebee Jasper-So cool it looks phony!

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Like a utopian landscape, this Butterfly is surreal.

Like a utopian landscape, this Bumblebee pattern is surreal.

I first saw Bumblebee Jasper (?) two or three years ago at the Tucson Gem Shows. I should have bought some at that time, but I really thought it was phony like Rainbow Casilica that the Mexicans claimed was a real find. They even went to the trouble of “dummying” a mine up to appear like a seam of the Casilica was a natural occurance.

Amazing cabochons ready for jewelry.

Amazing cabochons ready for jewelry.

Bumblebee Jasper has amazing yellows, oranges and blacks and if any rock looked artificial this one does. Unbelievably, this stuff is REAL. It’s from hydrothermal vents on Mount Papansayan on West Java, Indonesia. The yellow and orange coloration is caused by Sulfur that is then opalized and silicated. Other trace elements are also present, producing a striking range of colors and pattern with the yellow and orange stones highlighted with black, gray, tan and crystal.

Fall colors enhance Butterfly Jasper.

Fall colors enhance Bumblebee Jasper.

Although claims are made that this material is Jasper, it is much softer than most Jaspers I have cut, and is closer to Onyx in hardness. The banding also resembles Onyx. Onyx is a form of Chalcedony as is Agate and Jasper, but is generally softer.  Agates allow light through them, and Jasper and Onyx are generally opaque.  Sometimes Jasper and Onyx are combined with Agate to create combination Silicates.  Bumblebee seems to be one of those combination gemstones.  I sense variable hardnesses within the Bumblebee, making it somewhat prone to undercutting.

Only a small amount of Bumblebee Jasper is produced from the source each year, and most of it is snapped up for the Chinese bead trade. We saw Bumblebee beads in Tucson, but they were expensive. I saw some rough, but the quality of it was very Iffy.

The nature of Bumblebee is to have varied hardnesses and also have many holes and flaws. I found it best to bite the bullet and buy quality, finished cabs. They were very expensive, but had no issues as seen in the rough.

I made a few Bumblebee pendants that I am sharing in this blog and post up on the website. There is no other natural stone that is even close to the patterns and coloration of Bumblebee Jasper, but if you want one, I would get it now. The quantity is very limited.


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