Friday, January 24, 2014

Quartzsite, Arizona

If you've never heard of Quartzsite, Arizona I highly recommend you google it.  It's a tiny dot in the middle of the desert near the western border of Arizona.  In the summer it can get as hot as 120 degrees F and it has like 140 residents.  But every January since the 1960s, the population grows to something like 10,000 and most of them are rock hounds.  I'm talking tried and true prospectors with a film of dirt on their skin that never washes off, hands gnarly and arthritic and they haul around truck loads of rocks.  Big rocks.  Tiny rocks.  Sparkly rocks.  Colored rocks.  Fossil rocks.

I've loved rocks since I was a little girl.  I would spend hours banging small rocks with bigger rocks to crack them apart and marveled at the little sparkly mica flakes and shiny quartz crystals.  Once I heard of this giant gem and mineral show in the desert, I wanted to go.  And then I started to make jewelry, and had a reason to go.  Yet I never could justify spending the money to make the long journey from Ohio to the desert.  Well I finally made it to Mecca - the rock and mineral show to end all shows!

I have to say, it was everything I thought it would be and then some. And yet in some ways I was a bit disappointed.  It was dirty and gritty and when I pictured acres of gemstones, I guess I pictured them a bit more Hollywood Glam and a lot less Yosemite Sam.  The sheer amount of stones and fossils and minerals made it hard to believe there was anything left in nature!  Plus there was a lot of other vendors selling all kinds of other junk and products and dollar store crap at least 10 years old and covered in layers of dust and dirt.  Lots of old men in need of a bath, lots of foreign dealers from the middle east and India selling beads and stones, lots of young people with long dreadlocks and openly smoking pot.  Then there were the shoppers - lots of snowbirds driving giant motorhomes and ladies looking for a good bargain on Indian jewelry.  And dogs....oh so many dogs!  In purses, in backpacks, on leashes, in strollers, even a front baby snuggler with a frou-frou dog in it!

Finding the beautiful gems I had in mind for my jewelry creations was going to be harder than I had imagined.  I thought we came prepared.  We had water and snacks.  I had on my Z-coil shoes, sunglasses and visor.  I brought my walker, which I couldn't push through the sand and dirt, so it proved useless. I searched and searched and picked through hundreds of cabs (cut and polished stones) to find just the perfect ones....

But we persevered.  I was on a mission.  I lasted 4 hours the first day before pain did me in.  I lasted 1 hour the second day, before my wallet did me in.  It was empty.  That was the fastest $1,000 I ever spent!  I can't be out of money - there are still so many rocks......ACK!  But I'm happy with what I found - I chose each one because of it "spoke" to me - the shape, the color, the pattern, the polish - each one special and I can't wait to make them into beautiful pendants and earrings....Here are a few of what I purchased...

Tonight I got to work on them, but found I've gotten soft!  I'm out of practice - I used to be able to do this all day, but after just three pendants, my hands and wrists are so sore I had to stop.  Tomorrow we are going to an art show and Saturday night Bingo, but Sunday I'll get back to work.  I will put the finished products up on my Anna Lemons Jewelry Facebook page, but if you aren't on facebook, you can always call me to inquire about purchasing.  They have a resident craft show here once a week, so hopefully I will sell a few, because there is another big show in Tucson next month!


Martha Hardcastle Guthrie said...

You did some incredible work today, Anna! Those stones are breathtaking.

b and bb cole said...

What an awesome rock show! As always, love your pics and I want that VW bus!! :))
All the stones you purchased are gorgeous! Can't wait to see them all done!
Hope you win at Bingo!! <3