Monday, July 25, 2011

The Draw of the Mojave Desert or Why I Started Designing Jewelry

When you look at my etsy stores you see Mojave Stone jewelry .  In the 1970's, my father and two brothers mined a stone in the Mojave Desert in the middle of nowhere California!  Actually, the mine was somewhat but not very close to Desert Center.  It had been a gold/silver mine before they staked their claim and began mining stone.  My family lived in Missouri and the stone had to be trucked from the desert after strip mining it.  I was married and away from home so I got to hear the stories of making a road, fighting off bees, surviving the heat, being careful of the critters and all the other 'Wild West' excitement.  And I did not have to rough it!

Dad was going to retire (some day) and make and sell the polished cabochons (a stone cut and polished usually with a flat back and a convex top) for jewelry.  In the meantime, he had some distributors sell it, some metal smiths create pieces, and he trademarked it as 'Mojave Royal Blue' and 'Mojave Stone'.  He had it analyzed and gave a piece to the German Gemological Association, Idar-Oberstein.  It is a unique stone and has a wide range of colors from light greens to deep blues and reds.  Tons of the stone came home.   Lots of cabs were cut and polished and stockpiled!

When Dad died, I was fortunate to receive many polished cabochons.  They were pretty and I liked looking at them.  I did wonder what I would do with them! 

Somewhere I heard about metal clay and became interested.  Growing up my mom and I made ceramics in the basement and loved working with the clay.  The idea of making jewelry from clay that magically turned into metal after firing was really appealing.  So I signed up for  Art Clay Certification Level 1 class taught by Lyle Rayfield with no idea what I was doing.  Lyle was patient!  I was motivated !  And I fell in love with silver metal clay that weekend.


Some of my mother's Mojave stone jewelry is in my etsy vintage shop Brittdesign.  Dad loved to make it for her and she loved to wear it.  There is too much for me to wear it all so I decided to share some of the pieces.  I show the pieces I make in my etsy handmade shop Brittdesigntoo.

Designing jewelry is one of my passions.  It is a way I connect with my parents.  I always smile when I pick up a stone and think, "OK, Dad, let's see what we can do with this!"  And then I make sure Mom would have worn it!

More info on Mojave Stone in April 1980 issue of Lapidary Journal.
'Mojave Stone, Gem of the Desert' by June Culp Zeitner
'What a Hobby Can Do' by Laurence Stalling

The green minerals are basically brochantite, antlerite, and some almost pure albite.  Bisbeeite, linarite, covelite, and other trace copper silicate minerals produce the blue colors.  Hematite, jasper, bornite, tinorite, goethite, euprite, limonite, and barite are mixed throughout the stones and produce the variations of red and browns.  Pure copper, silver and gold are scattered throughout helping to produce the beautiful finish and appearance of the stones.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Draw of the Mojave Desert or Why I Started Designing Jewelry

When you look at my etsy stores you see Mojave Stone jewelry .  In the 1970's, my father and two brothers mined a stone in the Mojave Desert in the middle of nowhere California!  Actually, the mine was somewhat but not very close to Desert Center.  It had been a gold/silver mine before they staked their claim and began mining stone.  My family lived in Missouri and the stone had to be trucked from the desert after strip mining it.  I was married and away from home so I got to hear the stories of making a road, fighting off bees, surviving the heat, being careful of the critters and all the other 'Wild West' excitement.  And I did not have to rough it!

Dad was going to retire (some day) and make and sell the polished cabochons (a stone cut and polished usually with a flat back and a convex top) for jewelry.  In the meantime, he had some distributors sell it, some metal smiths create pieces, and he trademarked it as 'Mojave Royal Blue' and 'Mojave Stone'.  He had it analyzed and gave a piece to the German Gemological Association, Idar-Oberstein.  It is a unique stone and has a wide range of colors from light greens to deep blues and reds.  Tons of the stone came home.   Lots of cabs were cut and polished and stockpiled!

When Dad died, I was fortunate to receive many polished cabochons.  They were pretty and I liked looking at them.  I did wonder what I would do with them! 

Somewhere I heard about metal clay and became interested.  Growing up my mom and I made ceramics in the basement and loved working with the clay.  The idea of making jewelry from clay that magically turned into metal after firing was really appealing.  So I signed up for  Art Clay Certification Level 1 class taught by Lyle Rayfield with no idea what I was doing.  Lyle was patient!  I was motivated !  And I fell in love with silver metal clay that weekend.


Some of my mother's Mojave stone jewelry is in my etsy vintage shop Brittdesign.  Dad loved to make it for her and she loved to wear it.  There is too much for me to wear it all so I decided to share some of the pieces.  I show the pieces I make in my etsy handmade shop Brittdesigntoo.

Designing jewelry is one of my passions.  It is a way I connect with my parents.  I always smile when I pick up a stone and think, "OK, Dad, let's see what we can do with this!"  And then I make sure Mom would have worn it!

More info on Mojave Stone in April 1980 issue of Lapidary Journal.
'Mojave Stone, Gem of the Desert' by June Culp Zeitner
'What a Hobby Can Do' by Laurence Stalling

The green minerals are basically brochantite, antlerite, and some almost pure albite.  Bisbeeite, linarite, covelite, and other trace copper silicate minerals produce the blue colors.  Hematite, jasper, bornite, tinorite, goethite, euprite, limonite, and barite are mixed throughout the stones and produce the variations of red and browns.  Pure copper, silver and gold are scattered throughout helping to produce the beautiful finish and appearance of the stones.