On the road between Phoenix and Tucson, AZ
It is the second anniversary of my Etsy shops and Tucson gem and mineral show time. A busy time of the year here at the B Harrison Arts studios; editing listings in my web shops Quiet Mind and Beadin' Around The Block to reflect special pricing in recognition of my anniversary on Etsy (sale ends 2/16/10 so you still have time) and making trips to Tucson, two hours drive from Phoenix, for shopping and buying supplies and materials I will sell and use throughout the year.
Although busy it is a very exciting time as gem fever builds in the air. Other artist friends and I have conversations on who is going? Which show/s do you go to? What do you find there? Who may be going with whom and will you be staying somewhere or just going for the day?
I have been visiting gem shows in Tucson for the better part of 20 years now. Only with the past three years being more serious buying trips for business purposes than on a hobbyist level the years before. As I rummage through my collection of stones and beads when looking to create or organize I find myself measuring time in ‘mineral shows’. I’ll see something and say to myself oh I have had since three mineral shows ago or that I have had that since show X was called this or was over there at that time but has moved over here now.
Me in front of a giant quartz crystal cluster
For those not familiar with the Tucson gem shows, it is absolutely amazing! It seems the entire world converges on Tucson for the gem shows and there is much, much more there than just gems and minerals. There is everything from rock and mineral specimens, carved stone and crystals, beads of every material from paper and plastic to leather and cloth to stone and precious gems, textiles, wood carvings from every continent, batik printing blocks, singing bowls, Hindu statues, Balinese drums, finished jewelry and clothing and much more. The goods are brought in from the highest mountains in the Himalayas to the depths of the earth in Brazilian and African mines and other mineral rich areas of the world.
Brazilian amethyst and citrine cathedrals above, below a citrine geode
If you are fortunate enough to get to Tucson you’ll see amazing sites, like an amethyst geode big enough to be my coffin, I am 6’ tall! Mineral specimens that make a man of my height seem small; I have stood by quartz crystal clusters that were several feet taller than me. You’ll see antiquities of extreme rarity, single beads that sell for several hundred and even a thousand dollars and more. Strands of gem stone beads in prices ranging from affordable, under $50.00 to stones whose price is astronomical. Just the other day I saw a strand of 15mm green tourmaline beads that were of a color and clarity I have never seen in green tourmaline beads of that size, the strand was only $8,000.00 wholesale.
Above: Beautiful clouds over the vendor tents at Tucson's Electric Park Below: Petrified wood specimen
Although a fun adventure the shows take a toll on you. The energies of all the people, the stones and everything else going on alone are enough to wear one out. Then there is the focus on finding what customer’s have requested, anticipating their needs and desires, finding things that are unique, of unusually good quality and exceptional pricing. Every year it seems like a gamble, the same questions go through my mind over and over. Will my customers like this? How can it be used, other than the obvious? Is the price right so that I can resell at a reasonable price? Etc.
This years trips have yielded beads, Buddhist charms, pendants, cabochons of seraphanite, charoite and picture jasper, fancy handmade beads in silver, larimar donuts, and more. I have already posted new items to BeadinAroundTheBlock, there is more to come, and I will be creating new malas (prayer beads), jewelry and objects of art for QuietMind.Etsy in the weeks to come.
If you’re in the Phoenix area you can see a selection of beads and completed jewelry and prayer beads at Conspire coffee shop and gallery at the corner of 5th St and Garfield (just south of Roosevelt) in downtown Phoenix, AZ. A larger selection of beads and finished works will be available for view and sale on the First Friday of the month, come on out and let’s meet and share our bead experiences.
Snow on the Santa Catalina Mts. view from Tucson's Electric Park