Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Pics from the Jewelry and Gem Show

There is never a lack of things to do here in Las Vegas.  Personally, I am looking forward to the Star Trek convention later this summer,  but meanwhile, this caught my eye.

A friend had told me that she and her hubby fly to Phoenix for the Gem, Mineral and Jewelry show. So when I saw that there was one coming to Vegas, I immediately signed up. And I had no idea what to expect. 

It was held at the World Market complex, a huge "campus" right in the center of town. 

This was built almost 20 years ago, and is home to many furniture showrooms, with 315,000 square feet of showroom space. Seriously, it's HUGE!

Back when it was first built, entrance was strictly controlled... you could only stroll the aisles if you had a business license and were involved in the furniture industry. 

I went there when it first opened and was shocked when I visited a showroom of a Chinese furniture manufacturer who was selling whole bedroom sets for less than what the materials would cost here. Seriously, I looked at a 8-piece bedroom set for around $1100 - and did some quick math in my head. Just the materials for that set would have run me around $2500. And the quality was decent.... not great, but certainly reasonably well made.

So it was a bit of deja vu when I walked into one of the conventional halls to see what all the fuss was about the Gem and Jewelry show. 

First off - rows and rows of jewelry... not my jam, but there were a decent amount of people buying. 

It appeared most were private individuals, not owners of jewelry store. Seriously - anything (jewelry wise) that you wanted was probably there. To be honest, my eyes started to glaze over all the rings, earrings and necklaces on display. I mean... thousands of them. 

It was definitely a sensory overload. So I headed over to the tables that DIDN'T have jewelry... and ran into a local fellow who was keenly interested in these knives on display. He was a knife maker, and gave me a quick tutorial on the types of antlers used for these knife handles. 

I fell in love with the next booth - selling these amazing laser cut pop-up greeting cards. 

They had dozens, and every one was better than the one before. 

I bought a few - and since I was listed as a "buyer" on my badge, I got them wholesale. 

Who doesn't love a discount!?!

Then things got serious - and I started walking down aisle after aisle of gems. Rocks, basically - some polished, some in raw form. It took a minute for me to understand the pricing - everything was sold by weight. Amethysts seemed to be one of the more popular stones, but opals seemed to be a close second. 

 There were rows and rows of tchotchkes, like these skulls and more. 

This photo is out of focus, but I loved the texture of this photo.

And then I found the real gems - both literally and figuratively!

 These amethyst geodes were amazing! 

And the people at this booth were highly motivated to sell, sell, sell!

This book matched set reminded me of fallopian tubes! When I said that the salesman, he looked at me with a blank stare...

You couldn't sit in this couch, as it was guarded by security - but it sure didn't look comfortable. 

Around the corner from the couch was where I thought it started to get really interesting... gem and stone dealers.  It's amazing to see all of this in one setting. 

Most bins had the price per gram listed on it, and then each piece had their weight. 

I fell in love with this Peruvian blue opal,

 and chose two matching ones. 

Upon weighing them, and then calculating my wholesale discount, this stone came to just under $30. I had them put two aside for me, until I could come up with a reason to buy them. 

A little further up the aisle - this booth caught my eye. I fin't really see how it fit into the classification of gems or jewelry, but I liked their sense of humor. This huge alien sculpture would look great in my back yard, but oy vey - it was pricey. 

I loved their alien pieces!

Their wildlife was pretty great, too. 

Honestly - Cactus Joe's has better work, more variety,  at a MUCH better price point. 

Finally - there were a few pieces of furniture crafted from stone or petrified wood.

There was a huge skull display - I guess there's a huge following for these pieces - but I didn't think they were anything special. Reminded me of the stuff you'd see in a head shop in the 70s or 80s. (Good times!)

On my way out, right by the exit - I found what might have been my favorite booth - and it felt like a nostalgic attraction. 

These wares reminded me of driving across country with my family as a kid - stopping at many small gas stations spanning the now historic Route 66. Or stopping at a Stuckey's, which always advertised their pecan rolls and Native American crafts. 

(Who doesn't remember those signs for Stuckey's all up and down the highway?)

This booth was filled with some very nicely crafted wares, and he had a fascinating background. 

These small beaded purses were superb, 

and I was particularly fond of the maracas.

 This turquoise inlay was just one of many inlaid pieces in his booth. 

 And then...  the exit appeared and it was time to head home. 

Would I attend again? I'm not so sure - the wares there were definitely not my jam, but it was an interesting way to spend an afternoon. And with free parking, free admittance and TONS of icy air, I could think of a lot worse ways to spend a few afternoons!

PS... I ended up not going back for the opals - I just couldn't come up with an idea for incorporating them into my furniture, and couldn't justify spending $60 on two stones that would probably sit in a drawer forever. 


Tuesday, June 04, 2024

The future of 3D printing

Remember back when I said 3D printing was amazing? (I'd had a body scan and a buddy printed a mini-me.)

Well damn!  This is the coolest thing I've seen in years! 

This innovation is mind-boggling!

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Wrapped up another project today with the installation of a bucket. Yes, a bucket! It doesn't sound like much, but if you remember a few blog posts back, my buddy Dennis and I made the roof for a wishing well. 

It's located at the old San Miguel Community Garden, which had fallen to the wayside for a few summers. It was full of weeds, volunteer trees, and much degradation due to lack of maintenance. 

That's when Lighthouse Charities stepped in, turning this garden into a veritable oasis of vegetables, flowers, chicken coops, a wonderful zen water feature,  a butterfly sanctuary and much more. 

The wishing well was installed with two skinny 4x4s, 

which we wrapped with roughhewn cedar. The 4x4s just looked a little puny to hold up the roof.

 Next, Dennis and I made the top for it. Well... honestly - Dennis did 80% of the work, and I was an official "gofer / hold this " assistant. 

The final step was adding this bucket, which I made out of 16 staves. 

 I've become a little addicted to making stave containers, and I'll add this to the list of my favorites.  The crank and pulley system to raise and lower the bucket really added a cool feature to this wishing well! 

And finally after everything was done, a few volunteers posed for a celebratory photo.  

Someone emailed me, asking for more info about Lighthouse - here's a link and a blurb. 

While Lighthouse primarily works with refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, our impact is much larger—we benefit every individual in the community through the empowerment and integration of the population we serve. Transformed individuals lead to transformed communities.

They do wonderful things for our community!

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Lime pops!

 About a month ago, I wrote about making a sign in clay, to remind myself about not wasting water. 

Here's a link, if you missed it.

I wanted it glazed in colors that looked like water - greens and blues - and here's what came out of the kiln. 

Right above the lettering, there was a lime pop. When a bit of plaster infiltrates the clay, and then the piece gets fired - the bit of plaster "explodes" within the clay. 

Sometimes it can be a pretty big "explosion" that blows out the whole side of a pot. Here's a good example of a pop in the bottom rim of a bowl. 

In the case of my sign, the piece of lime caused the clay to explode and lift ... not the worst defect in the world, IMO.