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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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