An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Monday, February 22, 2010

Serpentine and Stichtite - some rare Tasmanians and a Destash Wand

During a brief holiday in July 2005, I went to Dundas, about 65kms drive north-east inland from Strahan in North-West Tasmania. The unassuming little town of Dundas has a claim to international fame - it is the only place in Australia and one of only three places in the world, where you can find the minerals Serpentine and Stichtite in combination.

Serpentine is the name given to a group of predominantly green minerals that occur as masses of tiny intergrown crystals of magnesium hydroxysilicate. Several varieties of serpentine are found across the globe (including China, the UK and the USA), but the two major varieties are Bowenite and Williamsite. Bowenite is the commoner of the two and is usually a translucent apple green with irregular little spots; Williamsite is rarer and softer and is an oily transparent green with black inclusions. In Australia, Bowenite has been found at Hanging Rock (NSW) and at Beaconsfield in Tasmania.

Opinion varies as to how Serpentine gained its name. One view is that it is because the stone’s mottled patterning resembles snakeskin, another is that it was regarded in times past as a cure for snake bite … as well as for rheumatism, dropsy and any build-up of fluids in the body. Serpentine is a relatively soft stone. It measures 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale - about the same as Alabaster (diamond measures 10 and Lapis Lazuli 5). It can be carved, engraved or polished and jewellers - especially in ancient Egypt and Persia - have made decorative items and seals from Serpentine, while builders have supported buildings with Serpentine columns. Serpentine appears under various guises. Carved Bowenite is sometimes passed-off as jade under the names ‘new jade’ or ‘Hunan jade’; combinations of Serpentine and Marble are often called simply Serpentine and are used for ornaments, for example Connemara Marble (from Connaught, Ireland) and Verd-antique (from Italy and Greece).

The combination of Serpentine and Stichtite is extremely rare. Stichtite is a rose-red to purple stone with darker flecks and is the product of decomposing chrome-containing Serpentine. Stichtite is even softer than Serpentine, measuring 1.5 to 2.5 on the Mohs scale. It’s found in Algeria, South Africa … and in Tasmania – at Serpentine Hill, which is off Macquarie Harbour on the north-west coast and at Dundas. A cafĂ© and a service station in Dundas display and sell small pieces of jewellery carved from this unique gemstone; and one inhabitant of the town is digging-up pieces of it in her back yard!

The combination of green Serpentine and pink Stichtite is very attractive. I’ve used some of the Serpentine-Stichtite pieces that I bought in Dundas but have just listed a gemstone wand in my Destash store to share with other to design.

  • Hall, C. (1994) Gemstones. London: Dorling Kindersley.
  • Perry, N. & Perry, R. (1997) A fossicker’s guide to gemstones in Australia. Melbourne: Reed Books Australia.
  • Schumann, W. (1977) Gemstones of the world. New York: Sterling Publishing Co.
  • Walters, R. J. L. (1996) The power of gemstones. London (?): Carlton Books Ltd.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beaded bracelets, bling and beyond: is all that sparkles fair?

When a customer at a local market first saw this bracelet she said ‘what great bling’. I thought, well it might be great 'bling' but it's almost impossible to photograph - it's so shiny and sparkly that the camera seems to just give up. Then I thought again - I wonder what she meant. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the word but I have never been quite sure what it means. Wikipedia came to the rescue describing bling as:
  • ‘fashy or elaborate jewelry and ornamented accessories that are carried, worn or installed, such as cell phones or tooth caps. The concept is often associated with rappers.’.
Well I know we are all looking for new ideas as beaders and beadweavers so maybe tooth caps could be the next thing for Etsy. The origins of the word are apparently ideophonic. Back to Wikipedia to explain:
  • ‘In linguistics terms, bling is an ideophone intended to evoke the "sound" of light hitting silver, platinum, or diamonds. It is not onomatopoeia, because the act of jewelry shining does not make a sound. ….The origins of the term are disputed and claimed by various artists.’

However, I've learnt that the origins of the word are not the only controversy that surrounds because of the widespread use of diamonds in bling jewelry. Diamond mining has been linked to major conflict, wars and worker exploitation and diamonds mined in war zones where profits benefit warloads and the diamond industry are known as ‘blood diamonds’. The term was popularised in the 2006 film - ''Blood Diamond'' starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou.

As always, it seems the everyday is political. A simple term like ‘bling’ seems so harmless yet it is important to think about how our everyday links to those beyond us. There are some terrific programs attempting to bring equity and fairness into the mining of diamonds and other precious minerals used in bling jewelry, such as gold and silvet. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) called Diamonds for Development (D4D) is one such program.

BLING is less well-known film than ‘Blood Diamond’ but is linked to the D4D program. It looks at the complex relationship between “blood” diamonds, conflict, the influence of Hip-Hop music and culture, and community development. It is produced by VH1 Rock Docs, Article 19 Films and UNDP with Hip-Hop artists from the US and Sierra Leone. If anyone has seen it I’d love to know what you felt about it. You can see a trailor of it at:

So, when you next think bling, think fairness and equity for those who produce the sparkle that blings.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shapes galore - a lovely dramatic treasury on Etsy

What a lovely surprise to be in this Etsy treasury Nice Shape by echanted hue. I love geometric shapes and this treasury just shows their beauty of to great effect. It's my Hot Chilli Ziangle that made it into this great company.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A rainbow treasury, a rainbow meaning and beading awareness ribbons

I found a piece of my jewelry (Harlequin earrings- featured today in an Etsy treasury called My Rainbow by Levy Marina of the Etsy Beadweaver's Team (see photo - link here Given it is a rainbow treasury it is not surprisingly a lovely colourful treasury. Then, when I was at the bank at lunchtime I heard an older man reciting the colours of the rainbow I think using a mnemonic he learnt at school. The mnemonic is Roy G. Biv and is in order from longest to shortest wavelength of colors in the rainbow:
* Red
* Orange
* Yellow
* Green
* Blue
* Indigo
* Violet

I learnt the same mnemonic but certainly don’t remember it as readily as he did. I wondered if he was aware of the meaning of the rainbow for the Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Gay and Transgender (GLBT) community. For many years now the rainbow flag and a rainbow ribbon have been a symbol of symbol of gay pride and when worn by those outside of the community it is a symbol of support for the GLBT community and their fight for equal rights. Remembering this, I felt particularly good to be in a rainbow treasury. The many colors of the rainbow flag represents the diversity of the people’s of the world. It dates from 1978 when Gilbert Baker displayed a flag that represented being gay and proud of it. Since that time a rainbow of ‘cause’ ribbons has burgeoned. The following list is from London’s Trinity College website and it shows just how much colour and causes are linked in current times. A number of beadweavers bead cause ribbons so if you are in interested in a beaded ribbon – rainbow or otherwise just be in touch with one of the Etsy Beadweaver’s Team members.

Burgundy Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of brain aneurysm, Cesarean section (worn upside down), headaches, hemangioma, vascular malformation, hospice care, multiple myeloma, William's syndrome, Thrombophilia, Antiphospholid Antibody Syndrome, and adults with disabilities

Purple Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid cancer, domestic violence, ADD, alzheimer's, religious tolerance, animal abuse, the victims of 9/11 including the police and firefighters, Crohn's disease and colitis, cystic fibrosis, lupus, leimyosarcoma, and fibromyalgia

Lavender Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol for general cancer awareness. It can also be a symbol for epilepsy, and rett syndrome

Periwinkle Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of eating disorders and pulmonary hypertension

Blue Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of drunk driving, child abuse, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), the victims of hurricane Katrina, dystonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), alopecia, Education, Epstein-Barr Virus, Save the Music, colon cancer (alternative ribbon color: brown), colorectal cancer (alternative ribbon color: brown), and anti-tobacco - particularly anti-second hand smoke (in Canada; alternative ribbon color: brown), I Love Clean Air/ILCA Campaign (Japan)

Dark Blue Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of arthritis, child abuse prevention, victim's rights, free speech, water quality, and water safety

Light Blue Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of childhood cancer (alternative color: pink), prostate cancer, Trisomy 18, and scleroderma

Teal Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol for ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers as well as sexual assault, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and tsunami victims

Green Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of childhood depression, missing children, open records for adoptees, environmental concerns, kidney cancer, tissue/organ donation, homeopathy, and worker and driving safety

Orange Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of leukemia, hunger, cultural diversity, humane treatment of animals, and self-injury awareness
We also now have a store offering orange ribbon clothing and orange ribbon items for the home and office.

White Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of innocence, victims of terrorism, violence against women, peace, right to life, bone cancer, adoptees, and retinal blastoma

Pearl Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol for emphysema, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and multiple sclerosis

Black Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of mourning, melanoma, and gang prevention

Brown Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is an anti-tobacco symbol as well as a symbol of colon cancer (alternative ribbon color: blue), colorectal cancer (alternative ribbon color: blue)

Grey Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol of diabetes, asthma, and brain cancer

Silver Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol for children with disabilities, Parkinson's disease, and mental illnesses such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders.

Gold Ribbon :
Meaning: This color is a symbol for childhood cancer

Jigsaw Puzzle Ribbon:
Meaning: This style of ribbon is a symbol for autism

Lace Ribbon:
Meaning: This style of ribbon is a symbol for osteoporosis

Pink and Blue Ribbon:
Meaning: This style of ribbon is a symbol for miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death due to SIDS or other causes


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Must look at the Mustard Beauty treasury

A my pair of earrings (Magnolia Borealis) are featured in a really delightful treasury today on Etsy. The treasury is called Mustard Beauty. If you have a chance pop by and look at the wonderful items dmtgun3 has chosen for this treasury.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stashing and destashing: an Etsy phenomena and a blog giveaway

In March 2008 in one of the Etsy forums spookylane said:

I see the word "destash" on Etsy every now and again. I tried looking for the explanation of this on Wiki, but couldn't find anything. Will someone enlighten me as to the meaning of the word "destash" please?

Well I went searching too and found two years later destash is yet to have an official definition anywhere but that it is everywhere on Etsy. It is so ubiquitous on Etsy that that I have just opened my very own destash shop (

If you think about what ‘stash’ means it’s pretty easy to see why ‘de’ stashing has become a well-used word on Etsy. According to various dictionaries to stash something is to put it away in a secret or safe place for future use. For nearly ten years according to this definition I have been building a bead stash that is now rather out of control. I have containers of all shapes and sizes full of things I have safely put away to use in future beading projects. The trouble is that once something is safely put away it’s very easy to forget you have it. It becomes it’s own secret that is only revealed in a major foray into the beading stash containers. Every foray into the bead containers creates a great urge to tidy and sort the stash so that the clutter it creates is reduced, more space is created for the next contribution to it and so that I can remember what is in it. The urge to reduce clutter, tidy and sort can mean that very little beading ever gets done as managing the stash becomes it’s own job. Hence, the attraction of ‘de’ stashing.

In English ‘de’ is a prefix that can be used at the beginning of a word to modify or change it’s meaning. De- is a prefix to that can mean to remove or reverse something – so to ‘de’ stash means to remove clutter and reverse the secrets stored in the stash by selling them or giving them away. In destashing lies the promise of a clutter free, secret free life with my beads and beady things. The tagline for one of the other destash shops on etsy is ‘releasing goods back into the wild’ gives you a good sense of just how out of control a crafter’s stash can get. So, here I am full of hope, destashing to reduce clutter and create more storage for my current work and projects in that tidying no longer dominates what I do with my beads. Wish me luck!

In the spirit of destashing I am have a blog giveaway for the most entertaining comment about destashing made by a Dax Designs blog follower posted on my blog by 11th Feb 2010. The giveaway will be a pair of very beautiful pink kunzite gemstone beads (see photo). Looking forward to hearing from folks.

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op