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Friday, October 21, 2011

What I Look for in a Stone: Part 3, Shape

 part 1, part 2, part 4, part 5
In the last two posts in this series, I explored pattern and color with examples here and here. This post will explore shape and how it influences design.

My last project was influenced by shape. It was influenced by other factors, too, but I couldn't have done what I did without the shape, first. The top of the stone begged to be topped off. It was perfect for a halo or crown. It could easily have been inspiring turned upside down, too.

I love cuts and shapes that are versatile, that have some character. Two of my least favorite cuts are round/oval and square. I think this is because they are somewhat limiting to me and uninspiring. My favorite cuts are the most unusual, custom cuts. They offer endless possibilities and push my skills as both designer and crafter, forcing me to develop new ways to use wires. My best work has been done with very unconventional cuts. However, using exotic cuts demands an exacting eye. Study those unique stones carefully before buying because, although inspiring, they may not be practicable. 

Updated: This is how I ended up finishing this stone.


Gracefully curving shapes seem sexy to me and call for a more feminine look. This is what I would call a modified flame cut. The challenge with this would be to make the stone lie straight and vertical. If you notice, the "weight" of the stone is unbalanced, if you drew a line from point to point. I have passed up many awesome stones simple because there was no way to wrap it and have it hang straight looking. This charoite is likely salvageable, though. The stone was too nice to pass up, so I'll give it a best shot.


Another purple beauty, this rare old, Manganoan Sugilite is an awesome stone with color changing qualities and collectability. The shape is unique. I can't resist a triangle especially one with such gently curving sides, but what you can't see in the picture is that it is only 2.7mm thick. That presents a challenge. I have wrapped such thin stones before, but they aren't easy. I have to consider as few wires as possible. One thought I had was to wrap it with another stone, say bustamite or cobalto. Pink, druzy cobalto would be cool because of the texture contrast.  I am really looking forward to working this one when the time is right.


This, another sweet, purple triangle, is a quite large tiffanystone (opalite, beryllium, bertrandite opal). I love it for its color and pattern and, well, you know me and triangles ... :) This is big, though and that's what makes it different. It is 50mm by 43mm! I want to go real simple with this to minimize the size a little, but it is too special to do a straight up borderwrap. It, also, is a thin stone.


I immediately fell in love with this cut! It presents endless possibilities. The color is intense parrot green with chrysocolla, which is also inspiring. This, too, is a very large stone. My favorite wrap for this cut is still in the design stages. I intend to explore it more fully. In fact, this might be the next one that I work on. Hmm ... sounds like a good weekend project.


I've had this pink chalcedony, limb cast for years. I pull it out from time and time and quickly get discouraged. This one may be better left to the silversmith. The shape itself is what sold me, but at that point in time, I didn't also consider size and thickness. It is small and very disproportionately thick. What I have always wanted to do was transform this shape to a fleur de lis. I'll keep it for awhile, yet. Ya never know ...


Spectrolite (Finnish labradorite) is one of my all time favs. Spectrolite, like labradorite, tends to look best in only one or two directions, but this is bright in all directions. This wonderful, big, geometric shape gets my creative gears going. I have done a few and was happy with the results. Readers at JL may remember a piece called, Geometry, that I had in the gallery. I tend not to repeat my designs very often, but I may do something very similar with this.


Druzy, bull's eye pattern and ocean jasper, what could be better except for adding a unique shape to the mix? This tongue shape was left with the druzy quartz at the top. The sides are rounded, like most tongue shapes are. This poses lots of very interesting problems AND possibilities. I envision some prongs on this, but time will tell.


Would this scare you off? I certainly hope not! It has loads of character! This was cut from a geode. It has a long side of druzy and a jagged side of "rind". Let your mind go.With what you know about wirewrapping, what would you do with this?

In the proceeding posts in this series, I listed many other stones with interesting shapes. For example, the orange quartz, has a beautiful beveled edge. Bevels are so well suited to round wires. They tend to want to roll in and hug the stone and the bevel is only too happy to accept.

Have you seen any other unique shapes to inspire you? Do you have a stone that has sat waiting for you to come up with the perfect solution? One that captivated and challenged you at the same time? I hope so, nothing is better to expand your talents with than a gorgeous stone with a unique cut. If you don't already look beyond the calibrated cuts, I hope this will encourage you to give those edgy stones a second thought. Make your work stand out and give your skills a new challenge. Your muse will love you for it. :)

13 comments:

  1. Hey TelaT, Another informative article in your series. Shape is incredible in how it lends beauty and interest to the stone. Once again, you have gorgeous examples of interesting and varied stones. OOoohhh the purples captured me as did the various green. Envisioning all of the challenges each shape posed in wrapping initially was overwhelming. Then, it got me to thinking and I felt the strong desire to break out of my oval safety zone.

    Thank you for continuing to educate and inspire!

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  2. These stones will make some amazing jewelry, especially the last two pieces. Can't wait to see what you eventually do with them.

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  3. Great, Christine! I really hope you try a cool shape! If I inspire you even a little to do it, then I'll be thrilled! Just for grins and giggles, I did an oval today- I think I challenged myself LOL!

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  4. Thanks, Mary- I really like that geode piece, too. The Ocean jasper is pretty new and I haven't quite decided what to do.

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  5. Wow Tela, that's quite a collection of shapes!! Some of them, I didn't even know existed. Its a definite eye opener. I know with my wire work, I've only wrapped traditional shapes, so I tend not to notice or emphasize shape in my work. But these unique forms remind me that shape is such an important aspect of design, as much so as colour and comfort and story.

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  6. Thank you, D. I'm glad this made you think about different shapes. A variety of shapes is really important for me. Sometimes, I need that extra hurdle to get my mind out of the box.

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  7. Such beautiful stones again! *sigh* Exciting, challenging shapes.
    For me, the pink chalcedony shouts "Art Deco!" and whispers "I love black onyx" ;-) I know this is about shapes, but the pattern of the second triangle is mesmerizing. And the last one, what a character! It defies every one-word-description of shape. Can't wait to see what you will do with it. And with them all!

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  8. Tela, I especially looked forward to reading your take on shapes of stones since I often tumble and polish my own rocks I have found. This always leaves me with interesting and unique shapes. I rarely work with cut and shaped stones, so for me this was a great article you wrote.

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  9. Hi Susan :) How cool- finding, tumbling and wrapping your own stones! Good for you, that's awesome! I'm sure that provides for lots of interesting shapes. I've wrapped quite a few tumbled stones, too. In fact, the thin stone that I linked to in the article was tumbled. The rounded pebble ones really pose a challenge! :)

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  10. Hi Renate :) Wow, I like the way you think! I can so see black onyx with that limb cast.

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  11. Hi Anon! NO, no, no- I did not remove your post. I got the email and went to respond and it wasn't here. I thought YOU removed it. :) I was going to respond anyway, but thought you might have had a good reason to delete. I don't know where it went. Blogger is wonky sometimes.

    Anyway, I know Sam Silverhawk's work very well and have bought from him in the past. He does gorgeous work and is the caliper of lapidary artist that I rejoice! Your comment about how well and unusual cuts further one's work is spot on. I LOVE great cuts!!

    Thank you for commenting and sorry about the snafu. I would only remove spam and I didn't consider your comment spam. :)

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  12. Funny, when I got the notification for a new message I went here, and my browser froze instantly. Something must have been wrong with blogger then.

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  13. The last two stones are amazing and I look forward to any further work with them. The OJ tongue is my favorite. It has classic orb features of OK, an attractive included vug, and the fine snow white druze on top. I have an OK cab I cut that might have come from the same slab or rock. I went with a large oval, but the top is truncated and druzy. (Sadly not as nice as you druze) - but there is a dagger like cavity that descends down the middle of the stone.

    I have tried several times now, and cannot come up with any design that sufficiently resonates with he stone.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments.