“My Country” Blog Hop:  Welcome to Arizona

Arizona state flag

Arizona’s state flag.

Welcome to my little corner of the “My Country Blog Hop” hosted by Nan Smith.  This is the second annual event, where participants are invited to create handmade jewelry or art and use it to tell the story of where they are from. Our hostess is Canadian, and today (July 1st) is Canada Day. Be sure to visit her page to learn more about it.

I chose to represent my home state, Arizona. I currently live in Maryland, just a few miles from our nation’s capital city, the District of Columbia.  But I was born and raised in Arizona and will always think of it as my home, no matter how far I stray or how long I have been gone. 

Sadly, I don’t have photos of the wonders of my home state to share with you. It didn’t occur to me to use a camera to capture the beauty of my home while I was growing up there. Mostly because it’s all too easy to take for granted what is all around you.  Now that I have lived in or visited about two dozen states, and a handful of other countries (including several visits to Canada), I can honestly say there is no place like home.

I have carried it with me wherever I go. My logo combines two of my favorite things from home:  horned lizards and the color turquoise.Many of my jewelry designs are inspired by the colors, art, and culture of Arizona. I didn’t create all of these just for this blog hop, but I wanted to share a few of my past designs too, to help me tell the story of my home in the southwestern U.S.

This beaded necklace and earring set, made with blue chalk turquoise, blackstone, and red-dyed howlite with silver accents showcases a bold color combination common in many southwestern designs.  Turquoise, the actual gem and the color, is popular and common in many designs native to Arizona and the southwestern U.S.   It also happens to be the state gem/mineral of Arizona.

southwestern boho beaded necklace with fish focal

Southwestern style colors in turquoise, red, and black.

Arizona is famous among the gem and jewelry crowd for its turquoise, much of which was found in and around the state’s copper, silver, and gold mines. Each of the turquoise deposits in Arizona are distinct. Where Sleeping Beauty turquoise (from the mine of the same name) is known for its lack of a matrix, turquoise from the Morenci mine has a distinctive black matrix from the pyrite in that deposit. And stones from the Bisbee mine are a brilliant blue with reddish-brown matrix. The Sleeping Beauty Mine in Globe, Arizona is the world’s largest producer of natural turquoise.

In addition to world-famous turquoise, Arizona’s mineral deposits are a source of many other beautiful gemstones used in jewelry design. This memory wire multi-wrap bangle bracelet is loaded with malachite and azurite, with silver accents. Malachite (the electric green banded beads) is often found in association with copper deposits and is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral. Azurite (the vivid blue in the blue-green mottled beads) is less common than azurite, but often found in the same mineral deposits. It too is a copper carbonate mineral.

azurite, malachite, and silver memory wire bangles

Wrap bangle bracelet with azurite, malachite, and silver beads.

Speaking of copper, that’s another thing Arizona is known for. As a child, I was taught the 5 C’s of Arizona’s major industries: copper, cotton, cattle, climate (for tourism), and citrus.  Things have changed, economically speaking, but Arizona is still one of the leading copper-producing states in the U.S.  The Morenci mine is the largest copper-producing mine in North America, and one of the largest copper mines in the world. I spent a summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college working there. My dad worked there most of his career.

I enjoy using copper wire and beads in my jewelry designs.  This necklace, which features a turquoise ceramic heart pendant on a strand of coral glass beads, is strung on copper wire and chain. Did you know one of Arizona’s nicknames is “the Valentine State?”  Our official nickname is The Grand Canyon State. But in addition to being the site of one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Arizona achieved statehood on February 14, 1912, Valentine’s Day.  I’ll be cheesy here and say my heart belongs to Arizona.  There’s so much to love about it.

Turquoise heart on coral glass necklace

Czech glass beads in coral, paired with turquoise ceramic heart bead and copper accents.

I could go on and on about the fabulous gems and minerals that make Arizona a rockhound paradise:  amethyst, agate, peridot, garnet, jaspers galore, and much more.  Geologically speaking, Arizona is young. Most of the hills and mountains in northern Arizona, including the Grand Canyon region, are “recently” extinct volcanoes of the San Francisco Volcanic Field.

That’s right. Arizona has mountains. It’s not all flat desert. In fact, Arizona has six different biomes, and various transition areas between them, including tundra, forests, woodland, chaparral, desert grasslands, and, well, yes, desert. There are quite a few streams, rivers, and lakes in Arizona. One of them – Lake Havasu –  is spanned by the London Bridge. Yep, the London Bridge, built in the 1800’s across the River Thames in London, England.  It was relocated to Arizona in 1967 and fully re-assembled in 1971.

What that means – the diversity of biomes, not the bridge – is that Arizona is home to a rich diversity of plants and wildlife.  Coyotes (iconic southwestern critters), wolves, mountain lions, bears, bobcats, javelina, bats, birds, fresh water fish, lizards, snakes, frogs, tarantulas and other spiders, scorpions, and centipedes, to name but a few, all call Arizona home. The plant life ranges from cactus (like the mighty Saguaro), to grasses, shrubs (like honeysuckle, acacia, and hibiscus), perinneals (like agave – the stuff they make tequila from, snapdragon, and poppies), and trees (like willow, cyprus, ash, oak, pine, and aspen).

Red striped agate necklace

Statement necklace with red stripe agate and jet black beads.

gila monster

Gila monster, a type of venomous lizard.

Our state reptile is the Arizona Ridgenose Rattlesnake. While I adore rattlesnakes (really, they’re beautiful in a deadly kind of way), if I got to choose, I would vote for the gila monster. I love lizards, as you may have guessed from my logo. The gila monster, whose bite is venomous, has spectacular coloring, as do many venomous animals. The red-orange and black patterns inspired this necklace, which features gorgeous red banded agate and jet black beads.

Gila monsters, horned lizards, and many other reptiles – all of which play important roles in their ecosystems – are threatened by collection (for the pet trade), urbanization of their habitat, and pesticides that contaminate their food supply.

I could write pages and pages more about all the wonderful, and surprising, things about Arizona. Like why it’s known as the “hummingbird capital of the United States,” that there’s a 50 million year old meteor crater, or that Return of the Jedi was filmed in the Imperial Sand Dunes near Yuma, AZ.  But I should probably save a few details for next year’s hop.

So I’ll leave you with this final design, created especially for this hop and inspired by Arizona’s state neckwear, the bola (or bolo) tie. It features natural turquoise heishe paired with reconstituted turquoise focal and beads. The turquoise is accented with amethyst and agate.

Turquoise bolo necklace

Turquoise bolo tie style necklace with amethyst and agate accents.

Thank you all for stopping by to learn a little bit about Arizona, and a big thank you to our hostess, Nan, for the opportunity to share and learn.  Please visit Nan’s blog, and these other participants in the blog hop, and leave them a nice comment to let them know you stopped by. I love nice comments too, and I’d love to hear what you think about my jewelry designs and whether you learned something new about the great state of Arizona today.

Hostess: Nan Smith  (Canada)                            wirednan.blogspot.ca

Ana (Portugal)                                         acbeads.blogspot.ca

Rita  (Orlando)                                         JewelSchoolFriends.com

Dini (The Netherlands)                           angazabychanges.blogspot.nl

Robin Reed  (Indiana)                              willowdragon.blogspot.com

Lilik Kristiana   (Indonesia )                    pcbylik.blogspot.com

Karla Morgan  (Texas)                             texaspepperjams.blogspot.com

Karen Mitchell (South Australia)                  www.overthemoon-design.com

Jayne Capps  (Oklahoma)               mamasgottodoodle.blogspot.com

Melissa Trudinger  (Australia)                  beadrecipes.wordpress.com

Johana Nunez  (Puerto Rico)                        artincendi.com

Kepi  (Alberta)                                          kepirasmussen.blogspot.ca

Deb Fortin  (Ontario)                                       studiok24.blogspot.ca

Divya  (India)                                             jewelsofsayuri.com

Tammy Adams (Arizona)              paisleylizard.com (*you are here!)

Kay Thomerson  (Texas)                        kayzkreationz.blogspot.com

Bairozan  (Bulgaria)                                 bairozan.blogspot.ca

Carolyn’s Creations  (not specified)        carolynscreationswa.blogspot.com

Lecia Woessner   (New Orleans)                  copperroses.blogspot.com

Linda A.  (Wash. D.C.)                          FromTheBeadBoard.blogspot.com

Inge Van Roos (California)                          ingetraud.wordpress.com

Natalie   (New Zealand)                  www.northshoredays.com

Lori Schneider (not specified)                           beadaddicted.blogspot.com

Mary Harding (New York)         maryhardingjewelrybeadblog.blogspot.com

Bouchra Rebai (Algeria)                          bouchrarebai.wordpress.com

Michelle McCarthy  (Florida )         Fireflydesignstudio.blogspot.com

16 thoughts on ““My Country” Blog Hop:  Welcome to Arizona

  1. Nan

    Wow, Tammy! There is so much more to Arizona than I ever knew! Thank you so much. I love to learn about the copper and gemstones and your jewelry made from them is beautiful.
    And the lizards…..so cute and colorful. I can see why you adopted them in your logo. The necklace in red and black is stunning……one I would love to wear! Of course the turquoise necklace is perfect for Arizona and who doesn’t love turquoise but accents in amethyst and agate are a unique touch and the bolo tie style is just right for the Southwest! Thanks for joining in.

    1. Tammy Adams

      Thanks so much, Nan. This was a lot of fun to prepare/design for and I do love bragging about my home state. And I have enjoying virtually traveling around the world learning about other places and seeing beautiful art. Please count me in if you do this again next year.
      p.s. That red and black necklace is available. 😉

  2. Divya N

    Tammy, I never knew the Arizona is filled with treasure (literally in the form of gemstones and minerals) thanks for all this information. Your bracelet is a real stunner – the malachite and azurites are so vivid and vibrant. Usually Arizona is popularised as the desert state but now when I think of Arizona I will think of all this beauty and splendor

    1. Tammy Adams

      Thanks, Divya. It’s a ‘best kept secret” that there’s water (and even snow for skiing) in Arizona. So glad you could stop by.

  3. Kepi Rasmussen

    Gorgeous jewellery, turquoise is one of my favorite gems, I love the color and the variety. I love your pieces, they are all so rich and beautiful and I was fortunate enough to have visited Arizona and can’t wait to go back!

    1. Tammy Adams

      Thanks, Kepi. Turquoise is my absolute top pick for favorite gemstone. I hope you make it back to AZ some day. There’s still so much there I haven’t seen too. It’s a rather large place.

  4. Deb Fortin

    what a rich heritage you have in your home state. I love turquoise and often pair it with coral to enhance the blue . I have to say I’m not a fan of bolo ties -too cowboy for me BUT your interpretation is gorgeous and I’d wear it in a heartbeat, an urbanised version of a traditional icon.

    1. Tammy Adams

      Thanks so much, Deb. I used to have a silver concho bolo tie. Wish I knew where it went. I’d repurpose the concho in a necklace like this. 🙂

  5. Beth Petricoin

    Such lovely, lovely pieces! I loved reading all about Arizona and learning some new things from this post, but most of all I enjoyed the beautiful eye candy created by you! 😉

  6. Rosantia Petkova

    I learned a lot about Arizona from your passionate post – about its mineral deposits, wildlife and the fun fact about the London Bridge! I see how jewelry creation is in your blood 🙂 The necklace you made for the hop has amazing colors and design.One more thing I didn’t know – that the bolo tie was traditional for Arizona.

  7. Dini Bruinsma

    These hops are very interesting… I do learn a lot! This time about Arizona, thanks to you (-: How is it possible to have so many minerals in one state, your home state! The stones are beautiful, you made lovely jewellery!

  8. Robin Kae Reed

    Wow Tammy all of that info is really interesting!!! Then we get to the designs and i am just BLOWN AWAY!!! I love all of your designs. My favorites are your red banded agate and jet bead necklace and the turquoise agate and amethyst lariat!!! Wonderful Designs!!! Have a Blessed Day!!!

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