In Norwegian, there is an expression to represent people like me..."stein gal". This, litterally translated means "stone crazy"...unfortunately, it can also refer to ones mental state! I've always been crazy about rocks and minerals...my mom always said I came home with more rocks in my bag than books! Well, I've managed to channel that interest into something a bit more than a hobby.
In 1987, when the New Age fad was in full swing, and I, a lowly student couldn't afford to buy crystal pendants costing $60 each, I came up with a solution! Make them myself! So, I raided the craft store for bead caps, wire, and crazy glue, and took several trips to the Smithsonian Natural History museum, where I could buy Arkansas quartz crystals for 50 cents each and other stones from the museum shops cheaply, and began to fashion my own! This I did and others liked what they saw, and through this, I financed my first trip to Norway.
That summer, I travelled, student class, to Norway to visit with Bjørn for a little over 7 weeks. He and his father had taken a course in traditional Norwegian bunad style filligree work back in the 1970's. He had always wanted to pursue it himself, but as so many hobbies go, the equipment was stowed away together with rolls of silver filigree wire and other things. So, we drove all the way up to Lillehammer, where the 1994 winter olympics were, and got his silverworking supplies out of storage, and drove all the way back to Kristiansand. He then showed the basics of cutting, shaping and soldering filigree work. I picked it up pretty much instantly and thus my jewelry career began! I went back to the USA for another year of school and bought basic equipment and began to become a Gem Show Junky, buying inexpensive crystals and faceted stones to experiment with. I bought used lapidary equipment from an older gentleman in Washington DC, who couldn't work with it any longer, and there it sat, in the garage, until I got hooked! It was opal that did it! The last stone I would ever have expected to get me, got me! Before then, it was always too expensive to even think about...but one day, at a small show, I found a dealer from W. VA who was trying to get rid of old cut offs...at $5 an ounce! This stuff wasn't junk either! I've cut stones worth several hundred each from that lot! So, I was royally hooked!
With me, however, my jewelry work is mostly self taught, so it has a style and life of its own. It's not school taught design, but out of my own mind and imagination.It combines Norwegian traditional work with modern design and gemstones. I have even dabbled with my own variation on Intarsia. If you want to see more of my work, look at my Jewelry pages...Jeannius Designs.
Otherwise, I collect both rough and cut stones and minerals. Norway has alot of places to go rock hunting. Mostly pegmatites and Feldspars of various types, including spectrolite, sunstone, various moonstone like materials, labrodorite(lavikite) and anorthosite with color flash. One of the worlds biggest Silver mines was once active in Kongsberg, Norway. Huge, twisted, wirelike specimines were taken out of the mines for many years.
Now I'm on the verge of a new phase of my jewelry career. I'm moving to Asheville, NC in the USA and will be setting up shop there as well as writing a how-to book on filigree making. I'm also looking forward to exploring the local mines in Western North Carolina when I move there!