Saturday, 31 March 2018

The Mighty Bay of Fundy

One thing you can expect to see if you visit Digby Neck is a lot of diverse scenery. Take today, for instance. The waters of St.Mary's Bay in front of our house were pretty calm but just a few miles away, on the other side of the hill, this was the view.

How would you like to live here!

The real charm of Nova Scotia are the countless old coves and wharves that appear at the end of dirt roads. So when (not if) you visit, get off the highway and take the time to explore. You might even find a nice fixer upper boat like this one:

The days are getting longer and the sun is getting stronger so now's the time to plan your Nova Scotia vacation. And when you do, leave plenty of time to explore my neighbourhood- the unique, scenic gem known as Digby Neck!
(And don't forget to stop at The Artist's Mark to pick up your free piece of The Neck).

Friday, 30 March 2018

The Before...

Most of the time, I show you the "after"- the end result of rocks that have been cut, ground, polished, drilled and set but today I thought I'd show the "before"- what they look like at the beginning, before I have even scraped off the barnacles.
It's misty rain and foggy here today but yesterday was beautiful so "She Who MUST  Be Obeyed and I went on a little rockhounding expedition.
At one point we found a few large boulders with some really nice vein material and this was both good and bad news since I then had to go back and get a 20 lb. sledge hammer But I have to say it was worth it. Here's a bit of what we came back with.

This is a nice piece of agate showing plume and fortification characteristics. There will be even more detail when it is polished.

This is amethyst that was sitting as a face on top of a beautiful agate seam.

Some really nice fortification agate that will make an amazing pendant when finished.

This shows you the power of tectonic forces.The black rock (an igneous rock called basalt) has been shattered by some force and the spaces filled with a mineral called stilbite which later has been partially replaced by agate.

This is an amazing seam that includes fortification agate and possibly some carnelian. It will polish up like glass!

Lastly, a huge chunk of what appears to be straw agate. If so, it will show some amazing patterning when it is cut and should polish up really well.
All this rock was found on Digby Neck so if you are looking for a place to find some really interesting stuff, come on down! And if you do, stop by the VT Rock Shop at The Artist's Mark and see how this material is transformed into a beautiful end product.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Why "The Artist's Mark" (and no, my name's not Mark)

Every year several people come through the door and ask if I am Mark. I say that no, my name is Peter (although sometimes Vickie refers to me by other names that can't be typed here- well deserved, she says).
We call our shop The Artist's Mark because it reflects the contents. Pretty much every piece of every item is hand made and thus bears the mark of the artist. This is something we feel is very important, even more so in our age of mass, cookie-cutter production.
We were reminded of this when we were having coffee this morning and looked up and saw these beams.

The house was built in 1849, from timbers of a ship that went down in the bay across the road so these hand hewn beams (each about 30 feet long) were probably made 200 years ago! We have 10 of them so about 300 feet of beams. How long did it take to make these? Where were they made originally? What kind of men did the work? Why are there holes and indentations at certain points? Would one ask any of these questions if you were looking up at a steel I-beam?
So when you look at pieces in the shop, if you look closely, you will always find the mark of the artist. A customer asked recently if I put an identifying mark on my pieces and I answered "Tons of 'em- just look closely and you'll see tiny scratches and nicks in the copper and often little irregularities in the shape, etc. of the stones- these are all my identifying marks and show where and how the material was handled". So it has a story- a history as it were and we feel strongly that this adds not only to the charm, but to the value.
A perfect case in point is the piece I just finished.

It,s called Sea Foam and is a local piece of jasper that Vickie found nearby. If you look closely, you will see marks where I nipped the ends of the wires and filed them smooth and where I pinched it to hold the leather cord. You'll see hammer marks where I flattened the copper bar so I could drill it.
The main stone has beautiful patterning and shows why I prefer agate and jasper to gem stones.

But as you can see, there are some tiny pits in the surface and the shape is not perfectly symmetrical. Some would have filled the pits with resin and made the stone symmetrical but I find that boring. It was a collaborative effort. I cut, ground, polished and drilled the stone and God chipped in with the amazing patterns.
So if you are looking for perfection, if you want cookie cutter, you will be disappointed at The Artist's Mark. But if you like unique pieces that tell a story, you will definitely like our shop.
And by the way, if you want to read more about artist's marks check out Vickie's polymer clay blog. Just do a google search on "claymagination".
Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Officially Open For The Season.

As usual, spring is taking its sweet time getting here and because of all the cold water, cool temperatures and fog are the order of the day. But I have it on good authority that warmer weather will arrive at some point. So today, the sign went back up.

Yup! The Artist's Mark is open for business!
People who have visited previously will notice that we have reconfigured thing so we can cram in even more stuff.
We still have Vickie's popular gorgeous totes:

And a HUGE selection of Seawall Fibres hand dyed yarn in all weights along with hand knitted items, unique patterns and knitting supplies:

And more polymer clay and stone jewelry than ever before:

We still have amazing original art and this year, we will be selling individual polymer clay beads for those who want to create their own pieces. Of course, we always have a great selection of local rock and mineral specimens. We even have the world's largest diamond! (OK so it's a Herkimer diamond which isn't really a diamond but it's still cool to see)!
So if your travels take you to Digby, come on out to "The Neck"- a truly unique part of Nova Scotia. You can tour the Rock Lab and see jewelry being made and don't forget, every visitor gets to choose a tumbled polished local stone so they can take home "A Piece of the Neck"!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

From Rock to Bone.

So for the last while I have been making earrings from rock- quartz crystals mostly- and polymer clay.
Today I switched things up and did a couple of pairs using fossilized shark teeth. here's what they look like.

The pair on the left are wrapped with 22 gauge copper wire and copper ear wires while the pair on the right is wrapped in 24 gauge gun metal with gun metal ear wires.

These certainly are unique and sure to attract a lot of attention when worn.

Hopefully, we can get the sign out and clean the place up so we can open for the holiday weekend.

Monday, 26 March 2018

We have Earrings!

In looking at our inventory, I noticed that we were light on earrings. So that's what I've been up to recently and we now have 12 pairs in the shop including these beauties.

The upper two pairs are natural, elongated quartz crystals with black agate and garnet beads- one in copper and one in sterling silver. The bottom pair is a combination of polymer clay and resin with brass wires.
We also have a really nice pair of quartz crystals that go really well with a pendant I made recently.

Polymer clay is an amazingly versatile material and Vickie has incorporated it in several mixed media pieces including this one.

So to start the season, we have an amazing variety of interesting items so if your plans are taking you to this area, be sure to stop by.
And for all you knitters, we have received several shipments and now have a huge selection of our world famous Seawall Fibres hand dyed yarn.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Doodling on Steroids!

At one time or another, I'm sure most of us have doodled. But I doubt very many of us have ever "doodled" quite like this.
Our daughter Lisa volunteers with the humane society where she lives- in Freeport, Grand Bahama. The society is having a 50th anniversary fund raising gala (as with most such ventures they are chronically underfunded) and Lisa asked Vickie if she would donate a piece of her art for auction as she has in the past.
Vickie agreed but then the creative juices took over and not only did she come up with an art idea, she hit on a real promotional opportunity. The theme of the gala is "Black and White and Gold" so she decided to do something in keeping with the theme and work they do.
A big part of the humane society's work is rounding up local wild dogs- called Potcakes- to be spayed and neutered. So Vickie decided to draw a Potcake- in her own unique way.

This is a drawing method called Zentangles and it is a real skill to choose patterns that won't obliterate what the image is.
Since she and Lisa liked it so much and since the humane society also handles a lot of cats, Vickie decided to do a cat as well.

So now things have expanded somewhat. The images you see are going to be used to silk screen       t-shirts that will be sold by the society and then Vickie will add some shading and a bit of gold to the final art that will then be used to produce sets of cards and finally auctioned off at the gala.
So if you like to draw, give it a try. It is supposed to be very relaxing although I think choosing the patterns would drive me nuts!
And if you ever want to donate to a worthy cause, check out the Humane Society of Freeport.
I have been working on ear rings recently and the next blog will show some examples.
The days are getting longer and it is almost time to put the sign back up by the road and open for business. Hope to see you at some point.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Sensational in Silver

So the expected nor'easter is upon us and the snow is quickly piling up, being driven sideways by gale force winds. On Digby Neck, we call this Tuesday.

Inside, the wood stove is cranked up and it is nice and warm (house is making some funny noises, though).

So it's perfect weather for working with some beautiful stone. I cut this piece from a rock Vickie found pretty close to home. There is a cluster of amethyst crystals at the top that sparkles as it moves and the colour is picked up in the banding of the agate.

I call this piece "Lavender Light".

It is wrapped snugly in 24 gauge sterling silver wire and hung on a delicate, 17 inch sterling silver chain. Quite frankly, the photo doesn't do it justice.

Digby Neck has an amazing diversity of both scenery and rocks and minerals and it is an absolute treat to have so many beautiful pieces in the shop. So if you are planning a trip to Nova Scotia in the summer, come on by the shop and say hi!


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Treasures of the Far East (Coast of Canada)

Here in Nova Scotia, especially on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, we are blessed to be able to find beautiful agates.
Recently, we have been working with material from Mexico but now we are back home working with some beautiful local agate from the North Range.

It's called Straw Agate and it is formed by the agatization of small tubular structures (probably straw) that have found their way into cracks in the basalt, producing this amazing pattern. This piece is called "Straw Dreams".

It is about 2 cm. x 5 cm.and shows the unique and beautiful patterning of the stone. The setting is entirely hand made in copper and it is wrapped with brass wire. The copper clip at the top has been wire brushed for texture.

The next piece, called "Splendid Straw" is larger- about 3.5 cm. wide and 2.5 cm. deep.

Again, note the amazing patterning. In this case, the copper clip at the top has been textured by running it through the rolling mill we got from John Hood at Scotia Gems (thanks, John!!). As with the first piece the setting is totally hand made as are all the findings but we added a manufactured copper clasp and copper beads. The ends of the copper wire wrap are tucked neatly into a channel in the copper clip.
We are featuring copper in a lot of our settings recently because it is easy to work with and really goes well with the rock we have been using. Plus, I have to try and use at least a small bit of the copper wire, sheets and findings that Vickie has stashed up over the years! lets just say we have 10 of EVERYTHING!

Finally, I'd like to show you a pic of a piece we featured in an earlier blog being worn by the new owner.
It was so nice having Seonaid, a fellow Nova Scotia Rockhound visit the shop and become our first customer of 2018! She even signed the guest book! And as a die hard Boston Bruins fan I have to admit that the piece even looks good on that red background!!
A similar pendant is on its way to a customer in Florida as soon as I get to the post office tomorrow. Hopefully, she'll send a pic or two so we can show that one off as well.
Digby Neck is expecting a big storm on Tuesday but after that, the outdoor sign will go back up and we'll be in business so if you want to spend some time browsing some very interesting stuff, come on by!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Copper Creations

We have recently finished two pieces where the colour of the stone was a perfect marriage for copper.

The first piece is called Escondita.

This small (3 cm high) jasper stone has a pattern and colour reminiscent of the terraces of the Escondita copper mine in Chile, surrounded by the arid grey desert. It is drilled and I used a pure copper leaf bail with prongs that fit in the drill hole. The colours and patterns are much more striking in person.
 It hangs from a buna cord and features hand made copper findings and a solid copper lobster claw clasp.

The second piece is called Cananea, after the Mexican copper mine that is one of the largest in the world.

Again this Mexican Crazy Lace Agate is not an overly large stone (4.5 cm wide) but it has absolutely beautiful colouring and patterning that is complemented perfectly by the copper wire and spacer beads. It also hangs on a black buna cord.
All the clasps at the top are hand made copper.
These pieces were a lot of fun to make because the stones are really spectacular and were both worked from rough to finished in my rock lab and I already had a lot of the copper findings.
Drop by The Artist's Mark on scenic Digby Neck and see these and many more gorgeous pieces of jewelry plus a ton of other interesting stuff!