Monthly Archives: July 2015

Ryan Gardner Shares the Art of Shaping Gemstones

Ryan Gardner shapes an amethyst on a diamond grinding wheel

Ryan Gardner shapes an amethyst on a diamond grinding wheel at his studio in Pueblo, Colorado.

Ryan Gardner stood in front of rapidly whirling grinding wheels in his studio in Pueblo, Colorado. With two hands he held a long nail on which he had super glued a small amethyst. He moved the nail constantly as he touched the amethyst to the coarse surface of one of the wheels. Frequently he took time to hold the nail up where he could examine the shape of the amethyst, which was slowly changing to match the vision in his mind’s eye.

A narrow stream of water was pouring onto the wheel  from a small spout above it and spraying off of it and onto Ryan’s apron. Without water to cool the wheel, heat from friction could have cracked the stone, and powdered amethyst would have been flying everywhere. Continue reading

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Prairie Moon Alpacas: Fiber Art on the Farm

Alpacas owned by Anne and Richard Phillips

After spring shearing reveals their faces and their long, thin necks, alpacas bear a remarkable resemblance to their relative the camel. These alpacas are grazing west of Fort Collins, on the farm of Anne and Richard Phillips. (Photo used with permission of A. Phillips)

On the west edge of Fort Collins, County Road 38E changes from one of the city’s busiest streets (Harmony Road) to what could be designated a scenic western byway. It winds around campgrounds at the south end of Horsetooth Reservoir, nestled where the plains appear to tip up in a salute to the foothills. After passing gracefully through a sprinkling of homes on the reservoir’s southwest edge, it breaks into rolling grassland interrupted occasionally by the short but rugged cliffs of grass-covered plateaus.

Eventually the road goes by the Masonville general store, where it takes the name Buckhorn Road, and soon reaches the alpaca farm of Anne and Richard Phillips. The Phillips’ flock of almost 150 alpacas can be seen grazing near the road almost any time of year. The large red barn, which looks brand new but has stood through 125 years, is used only for storing equipment, Anne told me. Alpacas become ill in enclosed spaces and do better under simple three-sided shelters.

I had met Anne at the Estes Park Wool Market last month. Her unique jackets of felted alpaca and silk had swung gently as she hung them from rods above her booth so they could be seen on all sides. She invited me to visit the farm – the home of Prairie Moon Alpacas – to see her studio and learn how she made her colorful jackets. Continue reading

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Wandering the Estes Park Wool Market, Gathering an Education in Fiber Arts

Wool vest by Una Walker

This wool vest made by Una Walker was on display at Estes Park Wool Market last month.

From raw, recently shorn wool to wearable wool art, I saw all the products that anyone who loves fiber might want at this year’s Estes Park Wool Market. While I was searching for Front Range artisans to feature on this blog, I met several who had come from farther away. What they taught me on the spot was fascinating – so much so that I pulled out my notebook and camera and tucked away my Front Range criteria.

First was Una Walker, California owner of Wooly Walkers, who made the vest pictured here. Punch needle rug hooking is Una’s business – she sells supplies, designs patterns, teaches workshops, and creates handbags, cushions, and anything else suitable to the heft and durability of a hooked rug weight. Continue reading

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