Rock Hounding

We recently purchased our first travel trailer. I am not exactly sure how it happened. If you ask me, I will tell you that I just woke up one morning and decided that we needed one. I am sure it was more complicated than that, but I know that from the time the idea struck me until we were backing it into our driveway only about two weeks had passed.  I have a congenital condition that makes is impossible to sleep on the ground any more and perhaps I was just really missing camping. What ever it was, we are now the proud owners of a Jayco, Baja Edition trailer.Travel Trailer

The Baja Edition just means that it has extra clearance and truck tires; perfect for going off road. Maybe the idea started when my father sent us back to Oregon last year with boxes of mineral specimens that he and my mother had collected over the years. She is a geologist and he is a geophysicist, so I grew up with a deep curiosity surrounding all things “rock”. My husband introduced me to Oregon Sunstone a few years ago and we had always wanted to go and find some ourselves but hotel rooms are scarce in the middle of BLM land.

I am positive that my parents involvement with rocks is what has spurred my desire to make jewelry. Many moons ago, I was sure I would grow up to be a gemologist but life does not always dish out what you want. We had already done a day trip collecting Thunder Eggs which, for those of you who are unfamiliar, are volcanic burps that harden before they hit the ground and thus are very round. Over time, the centers turn to various forms of quartz. Geodes are relatively well known as are picture agate, but the ones we have here are mostly iron infused jasper. That is another story.

Our first trip with the trailer was to Glass Butte, Oregon where we picked up a tidy collection of obsidian. That is also another story as I have not managed to sort through those rocks yet.

So, I will show you pictures of our second trailer trip and third rock collecting excursion. This trip we went to Congleton Hollow.

Congleton Hollow

We chose this camp site because we could watch both the sunrise and the sunset. The goal of this trip was to find limb casts. Limb casts are not the same as petrified wood. They are formed when a volcano erupts sending hot ash into the air. This ash lands on the trees and quickly hardens into a cement like substance. Because it is hot, it also sets the tree on fire burning it away. What is left, is a hole in the shape of a tree. Over millennia, mineral laden water percolates through the castings, leaving behind, well, minerals which fill the castings. Then, over MORE time, the freezing and thawing of the ground, pushes these limb casts towards the surface where folks like us can wander around and, with hope, find them.

At first, we had NO idea what to look for, so we wandered around rather aimlessly, but then they started to reveal themselves and our eyes adjusted to focus better on our goal.

Limb Casts

So here they are. Most are agate, all are some form of quartz. I have yet to wash them and see how pretty they really are. The green is from copper, which you see everywhere there.

Now I need to turn one into a necklace.

Welcome to My ETSY World

IMG_1449Vintage bead necklace

As you may have surmised from my blog, I have an ETSY shop.

ETSY is an on-line crafter’s web site that allows each seller to maintain their own internet store. Until recently, only handmade, vintage and supplies were allowed as shop wares. Now ETSY also allows designers to create their own product and  have the actual items manufactured by a second party. Some folks are happy about the change, others are not, but that’s the basic gist of what ETSY is, if you are unfamiliar with the site.

When I first signed up, I could not remember the name. I wanted to call is ESTY, because that followed the basic rules of the English language. It was easy to upload pictures and follow the instructions for descriptions and price. I think the hardest part of posting is trying to come up with a list of 13 “tag words” that could easily be picked up by a search engine as a customer is combing the web for your product. Most Etsians (that’s what we call ourselves) would agree, I think. There are whole tutorials about picking the correct words and something called SEO, which I later learned was short for “search engine optimization”. Everyone likes to feel a bit smarter by making their new fangled computer lingo into an acronym.

IMG_5402-0013 colored crocheted baby blanket

So, I started with ETSY about 2 years ago. I was THRILLED to find a place that seems designed to help someone like me (a closet artist who likes to make nice things) find a venue to sell their creations. I had read some really great success stories and thought that I coud at least make a bit of side money while I was a stay at home mom. Let me be clear here. I call myself a “closet artist” because in a real sense, I am just an artist who has not managed to come out and express that to the world yet. I have a degree in fine art and have been creating in one sense or another my entire life. I always told myself, when I was younger, that I would NEVER cave in to becoming a “crafter”. To me “crafting” was not ART! Boy, was I wrong!

Through ETSY,  I have seen some absolutely AMAZING creations. The ability to share ideas and the products that came from them is really the soul of the site. There are forums and teams that supply you with endless insight and support. Etsians create treasuries, which are a collection of 16 items with a similar theme and then post them for the rest of the world to see. It is a clear and continuous way to help support fellow artisans by showing off what their peers find to be interesting or pleasing to the eye. I particularly like making treasuries of the oddities that some folks post, like sculptures made out of dust bunnies or giant octopus tentacles that you can hang on your wall like a hunting trophy.

IMG_0466-001

ETSY was my new “home” and in the beginning, I spent hours pouring over what others have made and how. Then I started adding my own creations to the mix and found that what seemed like an easy solution to my need to make some petty cash, was not as easy as I had thought it would be….

A New Beginning

I have just re-written the business side of my life.

My online store name used to be Gillsie (which was a nickname I had in high school) until I realized that someone else had also been using that name and I felt like an impostor. The new name I have chosen is “Tangible Imaginings” because that about sums up how I feel about the creative process. If you are interested, here it is : etsy.com/shop/tangibleimaginings

I started my store in earnest about two years ago, when a series of events made me believe that I had the luxury of being able to quit my day job and pursue a dream.

My uncle passed away in 2008. I had only met him once, but I knew that he was schizophrenic and old and that my father was afraid of him. He came to my first wedding and fully believed that he was a Texas millionaire, complete with the boots, hat and accent. I am relatively certain he had never been to Texas, but because my parents had recently moved there, he was trying to fit in. When he died, there was a moment of sadness for me, but audible relief from my father. A few months later, I got a call that made me park my car on the side of the freeway and not move for a very long period of time, it felt like hours. My uncle had a trust fund, set up by my grandparents to take care of him and due to his low maintenance life style, it had grown into a huge sum of money. A huge some of money that my brothers and I were now to inherit, a HUGE sum of money….a shook for hours, stopped breathing a few times, felt my head pound with the meaning of the words that the lawyer was quickly ticking my way….how much? what?

I quit my day job as an underwriter for Farmer’s Insurance, and decided instead to put my time where I thought it would be better spent; with my family and art. I made wedding plans to marry my boyfriend of two years. I started cooking elaborate meals, I bought a used,  red, convertible Mini Cooper, tires for our cars, mattresses that did not poke you in the back, furniture that was not full of holes and a TV that you could see decently from across the room. The kids got braces, the dogs got their shots, my daughter traveled to New York on a school trip and I BOUGHT YARN.

Some month later, I got a call from the same lawyer. Seems there was an issue with my grandfather’s estate after he died in 1992, seems neither the IRS, nor the lawyer could come up with his tax return, seems what was supposed to be a generation skipping tax skipped the wrong generation, seems there were back taxes, penalties and such, seems like we were screwed.

About the same time, my step son started his new crusade to become the worlds youngest drug lord….and addict….and focus of my entire life. We put him in rehab, we sent him to counseling, we spared no time, expense or moment of thought, love and support. My life whirled around phone calls, meetings, methods, appointments and huge bills but when my head felt ready to explode, I would crochet, and crochet and crochet and then I BOUGHT BEADS.

Now it was 2010. My step-son was living with his mother, who let him do whatever he wanted, my youngest daughter started having medical issues and my blood pressure was through the roof. I was hording piles and piles of yarn. I had purchased another jewelry makers entire stock as she went out of business and I started making plans to open an Etsy shop.

There is, of course, a great deal more to this story….like having both of my feet reconstructed, getting paid back by the IRS and buying a house right before the IRS changed it’s mind and took the money back AGAIN.

in 2011 Gillsie: Tangible Imaginings was born out of the dust of a crazy, chaotic mess like a phoenix with a serious head cold.

I am a meticulous artisan. detailed, exacting and educated. I am NOT a marketing guru…nor even passable apprentice. What I do have is a good sense of humor, a tremendous faith in a greater power that I call God and life!

This blog, and all of its links and references to come is my attempt to reach out to the world and share the stories behind my creations. There will be hits and misses, thoughts and utter failures and no doubt, a great deal of soul searching from which I hope you can glean some value.

Now to begin the new beginning.