Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Trilobites are ancient marine animals, arthropods from the early Cambrian period. They were an insect like creature that is significant for being the first animal with identifiable eyes.  The name Tri-lob-ite comes from the 3 distinct lobes that form their body.  Trilobites  have been extinct for 248 million years.  Their fossils are found in many forms throughout the world.
Elrathia Kingii Trilobites are the genera used in our jewelry.  They are from the Middle Cambrian Period and are plentiful in the Wheeler Shale Formation in Utah.  Trilobites molted, shedding there skin multiple times over their lifespan.  Many of the trilobites found today are thought to be of these molts.
Fun Facts about trilobites:
They are the State Fossil of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.
So many Trilobites have been found in Dudley West Midlands in the UK that they were called Dudley Bugs and a Trilobite was illustrated on the shield of the former Borough Council.
Ute Indians of Western Utah made holes in them and wore them as a necklace for protection.
Delta Utah is home to the U-Dig Quarry where you can unearth your own Trilobites.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Historical References

Occasionally I am lucky enough to find a source for fossils. Gem and Mineral shows, out of the way rock shops, Ebay and other online sites allow me to treasure hunt.   The goal is to find good quality specimens small enough to be incorporated into jewelry.  Current favorites include Ammonites, Trilobites, and Orthoceras all of which are marine creatures that became extinct millions of years ago.
Ammonites are the most commonly available and perhaps the best known after dinosaurs.  They were a marine animal whose spiral shell form resembles that of a nautilus.  Ammonites were from the Early Jurassic and Late Cretaceous periods so have been extinct for over 60 million years.
The spiral form of the shell is separated into chambers. The animal occupied only the outer chamber so as it grew and required more shell space it would seal off the previous chamber behind it.  These chambers held gas pockets that kept the shell buoyant.  When the animal died the soft fleshy parts decayed and the remaining hard shell filled in with mud and mineral deposits as water passed through it over the millenia.  The ammonites that we use have been sawed in half and the surface polished so that you can clearly see these deposits.
Ammonites are found on every continent and in every naturally occurring color.  Ammonites found in clay will often have the iridescence of their outer shell preserved.
Interesting Ammonite Facts:
In Medieval Europe ammonite fossils were thought to be petrified snakes. They were call serpent stones. Saints Patrick and Hilda were often given credit for their demise.
An Ammonite fossil was the original discus used in Greek Olympic games.
Navajo and other North American Plains tribes carried ammonites in their medicine bags for health and good hunting.  They were called Buffalo stones.
This is an artist illustration of what a live ammonite may have looked like.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Many Faces of Fruit Man

Many of you expressed an interest in Fruit Man when we brought him, in his most recent incarnation Fruit Warrior, to Brandon Patenaude's graduation party.
Fruit man was born in September of 2006 when Becky saw a picture of a similar serving assembly in a magazine and wanted to use the idea for her wedding.  Fred built Fruit Man and he made the trip with us to Sandbridge Beach Virginia for the celebration.
Fruit man made an appearance in 2009 at the baby shower we had for the twins.  He was big brother Freddy in that appearance serving cupcakes to the crowd.

To build your own fruit man you will need the following supplies:
1-1" thick 24" diameter wooden circle. We used one purchased from a hardware store that was intended as a table top but you can cut your own from plywood.
3 10" diameter wooden plates purchased from a craft supply store
1 36" piece of 2x2 lumber
2 20" pieces of 2x2 lumber
wood screws
wood glue
3 4x4 pieces of 3 inch thick Styrofoam.

To assemble:
Find and mark the centers of the 24' circle, 1 of the 10' plates, both ends of the 36" 2x2 and one end each of the 20" 2x2's.
Attach the 24" circle to one end of the 36" 2x2 and 1 of the 10' plates to the other using wood glue and wood screws to secure. This has formed fruit man's base, body and head rest.
The other 2 wooden plates will form fruit mans hands.  Attach 1 plate to each of the shorter 2x2's with wood screws and glue.
Attach the arms to the long 2x2 in a position that is convenient for food service.
We use melon bowls with our fruit man so each of the wooden plates has 4  screws drills into it so that they form spikes to securely hold the melon. We use the Styrofoam blocks to cover these spikes when fruit man is not in use.

Let you imagination soar. Fruit mans head can be a pumpkin, a helmet, a carved melon or a photograph. Dress him up or wind flowers and vines around his base. He is a wonderful party guest and always a conversation piece.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my best friend of 34 years, Fred.  I don't tell you often enough how much I appreciate everything that you do to  make our lives together better, so I have written you  this unconventional Father's Day card .
I love that you plan great camping trips, and that you make it look easy.  Your campfire cookouts are the best.
I love that you are the perfect vacation companion enjoying our unplanned adventures and misadventures as much as I do.
I love that you are such a wonderful father and grandfather.  The little boys do too!
I love that you enjoy watching murderous TV shows with me.
I love that you keep our outdoor living spaces as beautiful as the indoor ones. Not everyone can claim a Registered  Backyard Wildlife habitat.
I love that you care enough to take me back to the ocean at least once a year.
I love that the dog and cat fight over who gets to sit next to you on the couch, and how they pout when it's my turn.
I love that you always kiss me goodnight.
I just plain love you. 
Happy Father's Day.
Bonnie Lou

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Great Barrington

Sunday found Fred and I on our way to Great Barrington Massachusetts to set up our Salvage Style jewelry in a new consignment opportunity. 

Great Barrington is a  small city in the Berkshire Mountains that is a Summertime destination for many.  It has been a resort town since the late 19th century when  railroads allowed wealthy travelers to leave the heat and discomfort of large cities and escape to the mountains.  The Berkshire Cottages they built rival those estates built in Newport, Rhode Island and Saratoga Springs, New York during the same time period. 

Great Barrington is a place made beautiful by lush gardens, mountain views, wonderful architecture, fascinating little shops and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines.

Silver Fox Salvage has opened a second shop there and proprietor Camille Gibeau invited me to show our salvage pieces there. 

The Salvage Style jewelry line includes pieces made from vintage cabinet hardware, pieces of old plumbing and lighting fixtures, deconstructed watches and clocks, 1950's era costume jewelry and found objects.  These pieces of the past were beautiful when made and time has enhanced them with lovely patinas. 

They blend very well with the style of Silver Fox Salvage II where Camille's displays celebrate the artistry of Vintage materials rescued from demolition.

Do yourself a favor.  Visit Great Barrington this Summer.  It's worth the drive.  While you are there stop a Silver Fox Salvage II at 8 Stockbridge Road on the corner of Rtes 7 and 23. 

Say hi to Camille.   She can tell you the story of anything in the store.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ravioli in Tomato Pancetta Butter

I forgot to copy and give this recipe to  Becky while she was visiting today.  It was one of her favorites and she frequently requested it when home from college or when we visited her on campus.  Tonight she wants to make it for her own family so I thought I would share it with everyone.  It is quick, easy and a great use of fresh from the garden basil, tomatoes and thyme.

Ravioli in Tomato Pancetta Butter

6 oz thinly sliced pancetta coarsely chopped
1/2 cup butter
6 large plum tomatoes
quartered, seeded and diced
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
12 fresh basil leaves

Cook pancetta in large heavy skillet until crisp and brown, remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 tbsp drippings. Add 1/4 cup butter to drippings and melt over med-high heat add tomatoes and thyme saute about 5 minutes until tomatoes are tender. season with salt and pepper. Cook ravioli and toss it in a bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup butter, melted. Add pancetta and basil to tomatoes and saute for 1 minute, pour over ravioli garnish with more thyme and enjoy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sentinels of the Beach

Fred and I returned yesterday from a trip to the Delaware shore.  The beaches in Dewy and Fenwick Island are fabulous.  We had our dog Rascal with us and he enjoyed the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes as well. We walked the shoreline, looked for shells and beach glass, and played in the waves.  We even sighted dolphins swimming offshore.

While there we became fascinated by the concrete tower structures that line the beach.  They stand like forgotten sentinels.   A little research identified them as observation towers from WWII when German U-boats patrolled the waters off the Eastern coast of the United States, and Pearl Harbour had been attacked by the Japanese.  The towers provide an eerie reminder of a time when invasion from the sea was an imminent possibility.

The 11 towers were part of  Fort Miles. They were not only for observation, but were manned with spot lights, sighting instruments, and radar in order to protect our shores.
The towers that were made of metal soon rusted and are long gone.  The ones still standing after 60 years are made of concrete from the sand of the beaches that they protected.  All but 1 are sealed.  The tower in Cape Henlopen State Park has been restored and is open to the public.
There is also a restoration being planned for one of the towers on Dewey Beach.  The fundraising is underway and it is hoped that enough money will be found to not only restore the tower, but to turn a nearby battery under the dunes into a WWII museum.
We found a wonderful book in a Dewey Beach's Books and Coffee titled Delaware's Ghost Towers: The Coast Artillery's Forgotten Last Stand During the Darkest Days of World War II  by William C. Grayson. It provides detailed information about that frightening time in history, the towers and the men that served to protect us.
Books and Coffee became our favorite morning stop. Good coffee, great company, and free Wi-Fi.
In the back of my mind there are plans taking shape.  There must be a way to use the feeling inspired by these towers in my jewelry. Polymer clay? Photo transfer? Found object? Resin casting? Only time will tell.