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February 2003 Newsletter

As you can tell by the name of this site, we’re mostly interested in opal. Over the last 10 years, however, our prospecting trips have taken us through various types of rock formation all over Queensland. We’ve found fluorite at Mt. Garnet, moonstone a few miles past The Lind junction, agates of all description at Agate Creek; peridot, staurolite, and gold near Forsythe, and (of course) opal from Winton to the New South Wales border (over 1000 miles) . . . not to mention more than a few interesting fossils. Ten years of collecting these non-opal specimens resulted in quite a few buckets of mixed materials. We allocated most of last year to drilling the holes in these specimens . . . more work than it took to find them, despite our Imahashi ultra-sonic drilling machine. We put together a collection of over 300 necklaces featuring these specimens, mostly uncut and unpolished, interspersed with organic material that we grow here in north Queensland: black bamboo, black palm, Mauritius palm seed, Foxtail palm seed, etc. We think the look is a great one, particularly since it mostly reflects pieces as they were found in nature . . . the perfect pebbles . . . and none of the magic has been ground off them through processing. All Queensland material, found by Queenslanders. In these days of Kmart marketing, we’re proud of our product. It’s unique and nobody else is doing it.


Sounds great over a stoned rave, but the proof is in the pudding. Even though our home town of Kuranda is a major international tourist destination, we thought we’d "have a go" at marketing it to Australians. Most Australians don’t buy opal. Most have already got a few pieces, since it’s our national gemstone, and many of those pieces came from their uncles or grandfathers who mined them themselves in the early days of the opal rush. So, it was off to the Woodford Folk Festival, and an eclectic Australian market sprinkled with visitors from all over the world. We did not go unprepared; we went with a mask.

Part of the Woodford experience is masks. The Wizard Cactus fitted a mask about my head. (smoke this, drink this, and don’t move). It turned out to be more like a helmet, requiring no elastic backstrap, and allowing me to boogie on the dance floor without fear of losing more than one of my heads. The Wizard Cactus covered the mask with fluorite and highlighted it with carnelian. The word "fluorescence" comes from this stone. When they first invented UV rave lights they shone it over everything they could find. This stone turned from green to ultra-violet blue so abruptly and with such radiance, they just had to name that effect after the stone: fluorite. Andrew is the one who found this show of fluorite, and we’ve tried to incorporate it in most of these necklaces. Looks great in the daytime (sort of like water-worn glass that you find on the beach), but can change drastically at night if you’re in the right club.

 

This is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. Check it out on www.woodfordfolkfestival.com . Any Californians reading this might be reminded of the Renaissance Faire. Woodford comes alive once a year between Christmas and New Years when a vacant paddock is turned into a town of 20,000+ residents who are camped there for the week. Others come as day trippers or to spend a night or two. Showers, toilets, water, etc. are provided. So is police presence, and private security. Nobody got busted for smoke, and there "never was heard a discouraging word" over the entire period of the festival, despite a river of alcohol being served to so many strangers. Over this period you feel like you’re the new kid on the block in a new town . . . until the realisation sets in that you’re all in the same boat. New relationships are struck up, and by New Years Eve everyone is ready to party together. Around 6pm on that day you could feel this entity stir, with a smile on its face and dressed to maim. The resulting euphoria was like a tsunami wave that took 2 days to recede.


A hefty fee at the gate for a week’s camping also allows you practically unlimited access to some of the world’s best musical and theatrical entertainment. The food stalls are enough to make you drool; there are also a number of workshops you can attend. It’s impossible to see everything you want to see, because the menu is so extensive.

So, after a couple preparatory weeks of 14 hour days stringing up the necklaces, it was off to Woodford, over 650 miles from here. We’d cut the bottom off of a 4x4 metre icosahedron, put a tarp over it, wrapped it in shadecloth, and called it a "stall". The necklaces were displayed on panels of "corflute" (that white plastic/cardboard they make real estate signs out of) and we were open for business. The response was phenomenal. Nobody had ever seen anything like this before, and the buyers ranged through all ages. We think we have a winner, and so, are going to start selling this range on stonedopal.com .

If you check the Woodford link, you’ll see last year’s promo. Give them a bit of time and you’ll be able to see next year’s promo, along with photos from this year. We’ve decided to give you a preview look at some of the people who attended the 2002/03, figuring that Woodford will cover the rest of the extravaganza in their new webpage. Take a look.


Past Newsletters: [Jun 2002] [Aug 2002] [Oct 2002] [Nov 2002]

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