Bizbee Turquoise and Diamond Pendant, 18kt. Gold
I am a collector. I’ve been tied to collecting for a very long time now and have never discovered why or where this passion began. I’ve been fascinated with bits and pieces of this and that from a very early age. Joni Mitchell’s poetry speaks of a black crow, diving down on a bright and shiny object spotted from his clear blue sky. It’s like that for me also.It started for me when I was a very young lad, not more than five years old. I was very fond of dumpster diving in my fathers trash burner. I had an eye for shiny bottle caps or the metal keys that came off Spam cans. My mother’s discarded buttons and those wonderful little wedges of stuffed fabric once shoulder pads, were especially sought out in the ashes of the burner. The ultimate prize however, were the spent shotgun shells that I begged my uncles to save for me when they would hunt for rabbits and pheasants in the fall. The polished brass and bright colored cardboard of these artifacts was beautiful. The real magic of this treasure however, was the scent of gunpowder that lingered in the shell after having been fired. At my young age, this was the ultimate prize. These precious artifacts were kept in a special cigar box that only I knew the whereabouts of.
Not so many years later, I had another collecting epiphany on my way home after a visit to my Grandparents farm, which was only a corn field away from where I lived. The corn rows were not more than six inches high and the walking was easy because the rains from a few days earlier, left the soil tamped down. Every little stone in the row glistened with its own light. My eye for spotting the unusual shape or color had only improved over the past five years and I was always on high alert for that shining bright pebble, to add to my collection. While walking, I gazed at the ground and my eye made out a shape like nothing I had seen before. The rains made it stand out in relief against the clay colored soil. Someone from long ago had also walked here and left a calling card. I knew what it was even before I took another half step. My heart raced as I reached down and retrieved a perfect coal black arrowhead, it’s point aimed toward the way home and to a life given to the pursuit of looking out for bright and shiny things.
As a young adult, my tastes became more refined, and being a card carrying member of the Woodstock generation, I took a fancy to collecting African trade beads and a magical blue, blue, stone called turquoise. Here was a gem that was naturally the color of the sky with a legend and lore that made it irresistible. Once again, a third epiphany stopped me in my tracks and aimed my flight path toward a self-taught career as a designer of jewelry and a cutter of gemstones which most certainly included fashioning turquoise and also another fanciful stone. If turquoise was magic, then opal was positively ascendant. This stone possessed the rainbow within its cells and my job was to free those colors for all to see. I was in my element!
My fourth epiphany came again, quite by accident. As I grew in my new found craft of making jewelry, I found that it was going to be important to have a visual record of the jewelry that I made. That meant hiring a photographer. The question then was, “Do I spend money on a photograph or do I buy that irresistible piece of gemstone that always showed up whenever the question of hiring a photographer came up for me”. There never seemed to be money for both. Resisting bright and shiny stones was impossible so I decided that maybe I could make my own images of the jewels that I was creating, so I bought a camera. Before long, I at least had an acceptable record of my work on film but something else was showing up for me too. I loved to photograph my jewelry designs on rocks of course - or moss or anything else in nature that provided a contrast to the jewel I was photographing. Then, I noticed how bright and shiny the background was without the jewelry. Here was all of the color and rich texture that I had been searching for all my life right there on film, and not only that, I could make it into a big piece of wall art and collect it!
So, here I am, still diving down after that bright and shiny thing. Much has changed over the last forty years with both jewelry and photography. The thing about collecting stuff is that it can take up a lot of space. I don't collect quite as many stones as I used to. My cigar box that I cherished as a kid has been replaced with a shiny aluminum one that I can put thousands of bright and shiny images in. If I want, they can even be collected in the clouds that the old crow likes to fly around in, looking for the next thing to dive down on.
Theres a crow flying
Black and ragged
Tree to tree
He's black as the highway that’s leading me
Now he’s diving down
To pick up on something shiny
I feel like that black crow
In a blue sky
- Joni Mitchell