Summer Newsletter 2019 – Pushing Me Where No One Has Gone Before

In The Studio
When my collectors ask me, “Can you do this?” it is always time to pause.  “Hmm, I wonder, “Can I?”

It started by going frameless on “Pocket I.”  I bought my first sinuous slab of liesegang-banded (aka Kanab) sandstone in 2014 and wondered what material could possibly complement the sandstone and inlaid crystals enough to use as a border.  A collector stopped by, took a quick look, and said, “You should make it frameless.”  Frameless?  Isn’t that the same as naked?  But after some trial and error it has proven to be a favorite hanging method.

Prehnite Pocket I – 23” x 8”, 2015

A frameless 23″ x 8″ piece of sandstone is one thing, but edging a piece with a 3/16 inch irregular stone band and then going frameless?  That’s quite another story.  When my “Journey to the Center of the Earth” collector asked me to do just that, I was quite skeptical, but Stu developed a technique to bevel the wood behind the piece so it was hidden.  We have just used that method on a new piece we are completing for a collector, “A Slice of Life.”  Instead of a cross-section of the earth it is a cross-section of a cell!

Another challenge was highlighting very special, yet tiny, specimens.  For the “Montana Geologic Map” we had some rare Yogo sapphires that were less than ¼” across.  I thought they would get lost in the map, when my collector suggested making a “frame” for them with a circle of grey gabbro.  It was the perfect solution, and we employed it on the North Carolina map to highlight a local ruby.

After creating 11 geologic maps, I got a request to include a map key* for the “North Carolina Geologic Map.”  By cutting additional small rectangles of all of the stone types and laser etching the words, we were able to add a key for the first time.  It nicely balanced that non-rectangular state!

North Carolina Geologic Map Key – draft with cut stone rectangles
What’s next?  After adhering over 150 beads to the Cell  Cross-Section one at a time (did you know that ribosomes look like rhodonite??), we will probably………….. wait to hear from the next person who asks, “Can you do this?”

*By the way, did you notice I did not use the word map “legend?”  When I was a geology student at the University of Idaho, Dr. Bob Jones, our volcanologist, never failed to remind us, “’Legends’ are for Native Americans, ‘keys’ are for maps!” (Although he was probably not that politically correct ;-))

Top: “Slice of Life” – 18″x 14.25″, 2019                         

Bottom: Detail – partial completion of rhodonite beads

In The Field
For my son’s 30th birthday we took a short family trip to Iceland.  I was awe-struck by the raw geologic power evident everywhere.  From the geothermally heated buildings, to the extensive glacial outwash, to the original Geysir, and the tectonic plate boundary, there were reminders everywhere that this was no ordinary geologic place.

I was so intrigued by a tour of the Hellisheidi Power Plant that I kept asking question after question.  Finally my son nudged me and pointed out that we were about to miss our plane!  Fortunately my son-in-law drives fast (;-), but I came away with a new appreciation of how fast minerals form.  They did an experiment by injecting hydrogen sulfide into a deep well and found that pyrite formed in less than two years!!

As a result of that trip I am working on a piece of art tentatively titled, “Ode to Iceland” that attempts to capture some of the awe.

Top:Susan on basalt columns at Reynisfjara Beach                                              

Bottom: Strokkur Geyser

In The Exhibition Hall
Our next show is in Cheyenne at the Rocky Mountain Section of the AAPG in September.  I will be giving a talk about my stone geologic map series as well.   I would love to see you there!

Rocky Mountain Section – American Association for Petroleum Geologists
Little America Convention Center
2800 W. Lincolnway
Cheyenne, WY  82009


Sunday September 15: 5pm – 7:30pm
Monday September 16: 9am – 6pm
Tuesday September 17: 9am – 6pm
Wednesday September 18: 9am – 2pm

In The Gallery

I was pleased to have Waves 10: In the Shadows accepted for the Amuse Yeux show at Foothills Art Center in Golden, Colorado.  There are about 70 pieces, all 10 inches or less, displayed in their Community Gallery.  Please stop by if you are in the area!

A Personal Note
Many of you know my assistant, Emily, who has worked with me for the past 2 ½ years.  During that time Emily finished her degree in Geological Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines and just recently got a job as a microscopist for an environmental firm.  It has been very sad to see her go, but it is exciting to see her move into her professional life!

All the best,
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