As I was wandering through the aisles at Bancroft this summer (Bancroft Gemboree - Annual Gem and Mineral Show - Bancroft, ON, Canada) - I spotted a colourful display of tiny jars filled with brightly coloured powders. Striking up a conversation with the vendors, I learned that what I was looking at was ground turquoise, lapis and malachite. Their intended users were manuscript illuminators!!!! They were selling the ground stone that was to be mixed into a binder and used to decorate icons, manuscripts, and whatever else you might want to put a layer of turquoise, lapis lazuli, or malachite onto. Hmmmm, I thought. I wonder if I can use some of this in a bead. Selecting a tiny jar of the bright turquoise and lapis (and passing on the equally appealing malachite - see note at end of post) - I took my treasures home.
The powder is about the consistency of flour. Doesn't seem to have a dusty, drifting tendency. It tends to clump a little, but I put some in a frit tray and had a go.
I made a core bead of white at one end, and ivory at the other (ivory on the right, and white on the left), rolled it in the stone powder, and encased it. The one with the black ends is the Turquoise powder, and the blue ends is the lapis. They have both reacted strongly with the ivory - which is not a surprise for turquoise - given that it has copper in it, much like the glass does - but more of a surprise for the lapis. (Of course, it's entirely possible that the good gentlemen selling the product were pulling my leg, and it's all ground turquoise scrap. Except, the lapis powder was more expensive.)
You can see - there were a mess of bubbles created too. (Click on the image for a blown-up view.)
It is now some months later - and the beads appear to still be intact. Of course, as a percentage of the bead - the amount used was tiny - so I wasn't expecting compatibility issues.
This bead has some of the turquoise - you can see the streaky dots and uber-bubbles. Yeah, there's some dichro in there too.
Not necessarily stunningly lovely - but kinda cool. Neat to think you can include real, ground, coloured stones.
*NOTE* - I have no idea if this stuff is safe - so, as with anything else - if you are going to try this or anything else - use a healthy dose of common sense. For instance - I know that stone cutters avoid breathing in dust from malachite and that the dust from grinding malachite is considered toxic - so I passed on the ground malachite. I wouldn't mess around with ground pearls either, if the option came up. I reserve the right to do things like this. You may too. If it all goes horribly wrong - don't blame me. If it is fabulous - a little credit would be nice. ;-)