Friday Favorites - Weird Bug Lady!

Friday, August 1, 2008
This weeks Friday Favorite showcases the colorful, unique (and perhaps for bug-a-phobs, creepy and scary) creations of Brigette, aka Weird Bug Lady!

This guy is what first caught my eye on Etsy ('fraid he's already sold). *WARNING - SCIENCE SPEAK* He is what is called a Caddisfly larvae. Many moons ago before I came to the dark side (geology), I studied environmental biology. Off and on I did research on aquatic macroinvertebrates (invertebrates that are macroscopic, i.e. you can see them without a microscope). This included studying a variety of organisms, one of which was the caddisfly! I was pleasantly surprised that someone else on Etsy knew these interesting little creatures!

One of my new favorite creations are the aquarium collections! What a great idea these are - perfect for kids that aren't ready for live pets. Also a cool idea for college students who can't have pets in their dorms!

Brigette is a zoology student, and got interested in creating her menagerie of plush creatures when she couldn't find anyone else who made all these unusual and wonderful critters! She is also a member of the Mad Scientists of Etsy team :D You can find more photos of her creations and other cool things on Flickr, and read about what she is up to at her Blog.

For an awesome gift perfect for anyone fascinated with insects or other invertebrates, check out the Weird Bug Lady!

Christmas in July Sale! One Day Only get 40% Off!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

That's right! 40% Off all day July 31st on everything in stock! A great time to start buying for the holidays - or even just a little something for yourself! Never have I had such a large discount and I doubt I will again til next year, so take advantage while you can!

What do I get out of it? Its a great way for me to move some stock out for the upcoming holidays too! So everyone wins! :D

Check it out at!

Do you want to believe? X-Files, Treasuries, SETI...

Sunday, July 27, 2008
So after watching a tv blurb about the new X Files movie, I was inspired to put together an Etsy treasury of some very cool alien/ufo items. It can be found here - at least until it expires Tuesday morning :)

The new movie looks to be interesting, and possibly more intriguing for me than the first movie. I'm a fan of the show from way back - watched it when it first aired and loved it. It was witty and fun, intriguing and suspenseful, made you think sometimes, and it was just plain cool. But after the first few seasons it got too complicated for me to enjoy it anymore - delved so far into the whole conspiracy theory stuff it became "work" to try to follow along, and the final blow was changing the cast. The first movie was ok, but I thought relied a bit too much on people understanding the show to really get it. From what I've heard this new movie will be more enjoyable for everyone regardless of how much you know about the X-Files universe, so I'm hopeful I'll like this one better.

Speaking of aliens, some may find it surprising that I do think there is life elsewhere in the universe being a scientist and all. Or at least that seems to be the reaction I get when people find out, lol. But a lot of scientists do believe there is life elsewhere in the universe - in fact I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say the majority do so. See, the issue isn't so much whether there is life in the universe but 1. Is there intelligent life? and 2. Can we establish contact?

This is what SETI set out to figure out. SETI stands for the Search for ExtraTerrestial Intelligence, and there are a variety of SETI projects out there. The one many people have probably heard of thanks to movies such as Contact, has been an on-going project for many years at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This radio telescope was built in the 1960's, and is actually built inside a sinkhole! In addition to studies of our solar system and the universe, the telescope has been used as part of systematic SETI program to try to detect potential signals from extraterrestials. More info about the observatory can be found on the official site.

A cool project that anyone can participate in is the SETI@Home program - this program is set up to utilize unused computing time from home computers (often when you're computer is doing something as simple as running its screen saver). It sends little packets of data to your computer for analysis, which are then sent back to a main computer. Should anything interesting come up in the data that your computer processes, then they further investigate it. Its pretty easy to set up and run, and you can even watch the data as its processed. Just think, you could be part of one of the most important scientific endeavors in human history! Check it out here.

Sadly, the observatory is facing serious budget cuts from the US, which will threaten the continuation of the SETI program. You can help by contacting your congresspersons - it only takes a few minutes and a couple stamps, and there's even an easy to fill out form found here that you can use.

Why, some may ask, is this important? Why bother?

I personally believe there can be no more important thing we could ever possibly do both in the realm of science and for humanity, than to continue the search for life in the universe. This would be a life altering event for our entire planet and everyone on it. The thing is, I feel the journey is just as important. We need projects such as these, to better all of us. To bring inspiration and spark the imaginations of thousands of people - most importantly children. Potentially to bring us together, and give us insight and understanding of ourselves and fellow humans. I can think of no better pursuit for us as a whole to take on - can you?

Friday Favorites - FrancesByrne

Friday, July 25, 2008
Friday Favorites are back, with the beautiful paintings by FrancesByrne.

This painting, "Purple Haze", was the first one of Frances' that I saw on Etsy. It immediatly drew me in, reminding me of some of the medieval and ancient horse art I've seen before, but with its own uniqueness to it.

This is simply my favorite painting thus far. It has an almost ethereal quality that I find captivating, and I love the subtle range of color used as well.

In addition to horses, Frances also paints other animals as well as very intricate and spectacular celtic art. You can even request a customized print of your name, with the first letter done in a Book of Kells inspired style - what a great gift idea for someone!

Stop in and visit FrancesByrne's store for your own unique piece of animal or celtic inspired art!

Where do stones get their color and why do some fade?

Friday, July 18, 2008
So I came across this question on Etsy and tried to give a very basic explanation why some minerals are colored the way they are, and why some will fade when exposed to light/heat. I thought this might be something others would be interested in and thought I'd share what I wrote here :)

Color and fading has to do with the composition of the mineral. Basically what happens is when some minerals are exposed to sunlight/heat, the electrons get rearranged, resulting in color loss. This only occurs in some minerals, because there are different ways minerals can get their color.

Idiochromatic minerals have their color due to their chemical composition, such as malachite and azurite. Thus their color is pretty constant. Malachite for instance is always green - there may be varying shades of green, but never any other color but green. Were you to take away the component that results in the green color, you would simply no longer have Malachite, but some other mineral.

Malachite is always a shade of green.

Allochromatic minerals get their colors from trace impurities in their composition or defects in their structure. Fluorite and Quartz are examples. Therefore they're prone to color change - again it also varies from mineral to mineral as some are more resistant to others depending on composition and structure. Unlike with Malachite, were a trace impurity removed that caused a certain color (e.g. remove the iron and aluminum responsible for the purple color of Amethyst, which is a type of Quartz), you still have the same mineral (i.e. while the stone would no longer be purple, it would still be Quartz).

Amethyst is a type of Quartz that is purple due to iron and aluminum impurities.

Here's an article I found that includes a brief discussion on color loss in Fluorite - its a reprint from Rock and Gem magazine

And this one explains why minerals have color and a bit about color variety occuring in the same mineral

When I have time I'll try to find some more info on this :)

In the meantime, I recommend always storing jewelry out of direct light and away from sources of heat, so you can continue to enjoy the beautiful colors of your stones for years to come!

Chaos at work...

Friday, July 11, 2008
So due to a busy schedule at the moment I'm somewhat on hiatus - mostly need to take the time to do a LOT of reorganizing both for my store and studio area, as well as for school. My work area is a disaster, and I decided not to make anything until it's cleaned up and organized - at the rate I'm going I might make something in time for christmas! lol

Chaos reigned supreme in Jurassic Park, and has hit me as well!

I'm gearing up for my final year as a graduate student. My thesis idea is finally focused and plan to study the impact crater structure located in Middlesboro, KY, which is one of only 2 cities in the US that is built completly within an impact crater! Very fun and exciting stuff! I'm also working out an internship and some committee issues, and there's always the adminsitrative stuff to deal with like paperwork and financial aid - very time consuming and NOT fun, lol

Middlesboro, KY - built inside an impact crater!

And in between I'm trying to help get the Mad Scientists of Etsy team to a new level, with the start of a team blog, website, and advertising! Be sure to check out our new blog at and say hello!

So hence taking a break from a lot of the online stuff and refocus on getting things in order - not long, just the next week or two probably. I'm still planning to do the Friday Favorites (though I'm skipping this week), and the next Stone of the Week article will be the much anticipated one about turquoise which I hope you'll find very helpful and interesting!

Friday Favorites - Trollflings!

Friday, July 4, 2008
Trolls, and Goblins, and Fairies - oh my! This weeks feature is the art by Amber Matthies, the creator of Trollflings, Miniature Troll Art Dolls!

I was introduced to Amber's work by my friend Sara when she bought a pumpkin pin similar to this one. I knew I just had to see this shop for myself!

Amber's work is amazing! All kinds of little creatures just waiting for a home - this little bunny fairy of course caught my eye!

Being a geologist I also adore these little animated stones :) Her work brings a smile to your face regardless if its a little pouty tree, a cute baby fairy, or a mischiveous dragon. Each creation is unique and special - a real treat for anyone to have!

You can also visit Amber's blog or her website for even more cool creations!

Be sure to stop in her store at Etsy and adopt one of these adorable little ones for yourself!

Cause every sleeping bunny needs a flower on their head...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Friday Favorites - knittingkneedle

Saturday, June 28, 2008
This week's Friday Favorites showcases the work of knittingkneedle on Etsy.

If this doesn't catch your attention I don't know what can! I did a triple take when I first saw knittingkneedle's crocheted dinosaur skull - admittedly it appeals to the geologist side of me :) But what an amazing and creative piece of work! (While I wish many sales for knittingkneedle, I can't help but not-so-secretly wish this will still be available for me to one day purchase! I would love to be a professor with that in my office, lol)

Another really cool item is this sabertooth tiger skull! What I really appreciate about knittingkneedle's work is how unique, inventive, creative, and just plain fun it is! It shows just how much of an art form crochet can be - and what a great inspiration for beginners!

Hey, in art anything is possible right? Even inter-species dino love :D
As you can see knittingkneedle also has smaller creations available for you to enjoy - some naughty, some silly, all great! Be sure to stop by and visit at

Stone of the Week - Pyrite

Friday, June 27, 2008
Pyrite is a metallic mineral that is comprised of iron and sulfur with the chemical formula FeS2. It belongs to a group of minerals called “sulfide minerals” and is the most common mineral of the group. It can often be found with other sulfide minerals (as well as other mineral types), often in quartz veins, coal, sedimentary or metamorphic rocks. The name pyrite comes from the Green word “pyros”, meaning fire, due to the fact that pyrite can spark if struck. It looks so much like gold to the untrained eye, that it has also earned the nickname “fools gold”. In fact sometimes gold can be found in the same locations as pyrite, making it even harder to tell which is which! However they can be told apart, as pyrite is lighter than gold, yet pyrite can’t be scratched with a fingernail or pocket knife like gold can because it is harder.

Pyrite is a metallic mineral that is a bright, brass yellow color, and found in a variety of forms.

Pyrite can be found in a variety of forms, from massive accumulations to various crystal forms. The most recognizable is the cubic form, which often have striations running across the surface. It has a hardness of about 6–6.5, actually making it softer than quartz; additionally it can also be brittle and break in an uneven or somewhat conchoidal manner. However pyrite is heavier than many common minerals, with a specific gravity of almost 5. When pyrite is exposed, it can react with both oxygen and water, resulting in the formation of acid.

Pyrite can be found in massive forms, sometimes readily seen along surfaces of rocks, such as this rock outcrop of metamorphic gneiss located in Canada.

There are several minerals that are very similar to pyrite. Marcasite is what is called a ‘polymorph’ of pyrite, meaning that while it has the same chemical formula, it is structurally different, and thus a different mineral. Chalcopyrite has copper added to it (CuFeS2), and is also a brassy yellow color, but is softer and lighter than pyrite (can you think of why this might be?). Bornite has even more copper and added sulfur (Cu5FeS4); you may know this mineral as “peacock ore” as when it tarnishes it turns from a copper-red to iridescent blues and purples.

Peacock ore is a technically called Bornite, and has a similar chemical composition to Pyrite. When it oxidizes these amazing colors can form as a result!

Pyrite has been used in the past for use in fire arms due to its ability to spark when struck. In more modern times it has been used to produce sulfur dioxide or sulfuric acid for industrial use, though this is not as common as it used to be. Pyrite in recent years has become available for use as beads or pendants for jewelry work. Care must be taken when using it – be sure to NEVER store it completely sealed without something to absorb moisture. Many a collector has stored pyrite in air tight containers or zippy bags, only to find a slushy mess a few months later. This is because the pyrite will react with the moisture and air trapped with it, resulting in the disintegration of it and the production of acid in its place (hence if you come across this situation handle with care!)

Rarely, fossils can undergo a process called "replacement", where the fossil is replaced with a mineral (while keeping its original form); in this case an ammonite found in Russia has been replaced with pyrite.

If there's a stone you would like to know more about - drop me a line! Have a mystery stone? Feel free to post a comment about it, including a link to a picture, and it could be featured on this blog!

Pyrite Facts:
Chemical composition: FeS2
Crystal System: Isometric
Color: Pale brass-yellow
Habit: Massive, Crystals (often cubic)
Fracture: Uneven, Slightly Conchoidal
Cleavage: Poor
Luster: Metallic
Transparency: Opaque
Hardness: 6–6.5
Specific Gravity: ~5g/cm3
Streak: Greenish-black
Occurrence: Worldwide


Rocks, Minerals, & Fossils of the World by C. Pellant and R. Phillips. Published 1990 by Little, Brown and Co. ISBN: 0316697966

Wikipedia – Pyrite.

Mindat – Pyrite.

Friday Favorites - EmilyBalivet

Friday, June 20, 2008
This week features the mythological artwork of Emily Balivet on Etsy at

I found Emily's work when I came across her medieval alphabet art. She has created little works of art for ever letter - each one truly unique and amazing! How fun these cards are!

Her "Twelve Women with Birds" print is one of my favorites. It's just such a rich image with the vibrant colors and detailed patterns that bring life to her work. All of her work is truly stunning - her medival work could readily fit in with any exhibit of medieval style art. She also has numerous works with more mythological and goddess imagery that are beautiful and intriguing.

Another example of the detail and brilliant use of color - this work just has such a great sense of depth and movement. Every time I look at her artwork I feel like I see something new every time - I never get tired of looking through her store! In addition to original paintings, she also sells ACEOs, prints, and cards of her work, as well as custom items. A collection of Emily's work is also available on her portfolio at

Be sure to check out this favorite of mine for some truly stunning work!

Yart Super Sale! Friday Only!

Friday is the last day of the 1st Annual Etsy Yart Sale! The Yart Sale is going out with a bang with more great items added just for the last day!

Prices are already reduced for easy purchasing - no waiting for a revised invoice!

Plus for every sale I make today my bunny gets a treat!

Don't you want the cute bunny to have his treats?!

So go check out some great jewelry and art for sale!

Stone of the Week - Sodalite

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Sodalite derives its name from the sodium content of this mineral; the chemistry of this mineral is Na4Al3(SiO4)3Cl, or Sodium Aluminum Silicate Chloride. It belongs to a group of minerals called feldspathoids. Feldspathoid minerals have poor silica content, and in the case of sodalite, it has absolutely no silica (aka quartz) at all. In fact, this mineral doesn’t even form if there is quartz around – it would react with the quartz to form another mineral. Since quartz is so abundant on Earth, there is sodalite is not a common mineral.

Sodalite often appears as a mixture of colors, and rarely found in a solid blue mass.

Many are familiar with the royal blue color of sodalite, however it occurs in a variety of colors including shades of blue, color less, white, light yellow, green, gray, pink, and violet. Hence it can sometimes be difficult to identify sodalite from other minerals. In its commonly sold blue form, one way to distinguish it is its streak. This the color the powder of the mineral leaves when ran across a ‘streak plate’ which is commonly a piece of white porcelain, however in a pinch you can try doing this on a white piece of paper. *Be sure to do this using a ‘fresh’ surface of the stone – trying this with polished surfaces such as what you get with beads doesn’t work – you need to expose a fresh surface of the stone.

The blue/blue+white variety is most often used for creating beads and decoration.

Sodalite is only found in quantity in a few select locations – mainly in Canada, and a few states in the USA, though a few smaller deposits can be found on other continents. There are a few different types of sodalite, one of the more interesting being Hackmanite. This particular form of sodalite has a property called “tenebrescence” which results in the stone changing color when exposed to light! (This same property is used in industry to create those glasses that will darken when exposed to sunlight!)

This mineral can make for some very pretty and unique jewelry!

Sodalite is a beautiful stone today used mainly for jewelry work, and sometimes decoration and sculpture. One story has it that in 1901, the Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King George V and Queen Mary) were presented with a piece of sodalite. The princess loved the beauty of this stone so much that she had tons of it shipped back to England where she used it to decorate the Marlborough house. Years later this mine was renamed the “Princess Sodalite Mine” in her honor.

Sodalite Facts:
Chemical composition: Na4Al3(SiO4)3Cl
Crystal System: Isometric
Color: blue, color less, white, light yellow, green, gray, pink, and violet
Habit: Massive, rarely crystals
Fracture: Uneven, Conchoidal
Cleavage: Dodecahedral (six directions), poor
Luster: Vitreous, Greasy
Transparency: Crystals are transparent to translucent, massive specimens are opaque
Hardness: 5.5-6
Specific Gravity: 2.27-2.33
Streak: White
Occurrence: Worldwide, but most commonly in Canada and the US
Other: Fluorescence


Rocks, Minerals, & Fossils of the World by C. Pellant and R. Phillips. Published 1990 by Little, Brown and Co. ISBN: 0316697966

Wikipedia - Sodalite.

Wikipedia - Tenebrescence.

Mineral Galleries - Sodalite.

Geological Garden gets 4-ton rock.

Of Earth and Life - New Etsy Treasury

Some really beautiful work by fellow Etsy artisans, featuring greens and browns, Earth and Life. This treasury can be viewed at (well, until it expires Friday afternoon then you'll have to make do with this snapshot :)

I am such a mean mommy...

Monday, June 16, 2008
...but I can't help but take more pictures, even though I'm *supposed* to be taking new pics of my jewelry. JD of course isn't so appreciative of his nap time being interrupted...

*What part of go away do you not understand?*

He also has a fascination for the camera - that or he figures if he smears it with his nose I can't take any more photos... hmm....

*I thought you WANTED a close up?*

My favorite cute thing he's recently developed is trying to clean his toes and ears while laying down on his side - poor thing is so tuckered out he can't get up to do it!

*Well if someone didn't wear me out taking photos....*

Of course he eventually gets up and gives me one of two looks - either the 'what is the crazy human doing now?' look, or the 'I so deserve treats for putting up with you' look :D

*What are you looking at?*

Friday Favorites - Figurative Paper

Friday, June 13, 2008
A new feature this week, of the work by Rachael DiRenna, who sells her work on Etsy at

This work is what first caught my attention and drew me in to Rachel's store. It instantly reminded me of the Ents (tree folk) from Lord of the Rings, and is one of my favorites.

Another great work of hers is this sculpture entitled "Joined". Its a very poignant piece, that evokes a lot of complex emotion.

I think this is brought about with her eye for detail and the way she breaths life into her creations. They may appear fantastical, but each one is so life-like you could almost imagine them moving, perhaps out of the corner of your eye and leaving you wondering :)

Rachel creates these unique sculptures with paper mache that she makes herself from recycled paper. In addition to sculptures, she offers prints and cards of her work which is a great way for someone to own a little piece of her work! You can see more of her work at her blog at

Be sure to stop by Figurative Paper on Etsy - this is some amazing artwork you'll be sorry to miss out on if you don't!

Stone of the Week - Celestine or Celestite

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
This is one of my favorite minerals and I love to collect it so much, hardly a gem show passes that I don’t buy a new specimen of it each year! The official name of this mineral is celestine, however it is still commonly called celestite, and is named from the Greek word "c┼ôlestis", meaning for celestial due to its pretty pale blue color. Celestine is made up of strontium sulfate, or SrSO4, and is similar enough to another mineral, barite (BaSO4), that these are sometimes misidentified. This mineral commonly forms in sedimentary environments.

The pretty blue celestine crystals are a favorite among collectors.

Celestine comes in a variety of colors, including colorless, white, yellow, orange, gray, green, brown, and pale blue. It is the pale blue that is most commonly sold both as specimens and as beads. The introduction of celestine in the jewelry market is fairly recent, and can make for some beautiful jewelry. However, care must be taken as it is a soft stone, and can more easily be scratched than harder minerals such as quartz. It is also very slightly soluble (dissolves) in water, so do not expose it to water or moisture for any extended period of time. It is also best not to expose it to the Sun for extended periods if you do not wish the colors to fade.

These blue celestine crystals occur with white aragonite and a few purple fluorite crystals.

The worlds largest geode, located at Crystal Cave, Ohio (refer to previous article on geodes), is made of celestine. It is 35 feet at its widest point, and has crystals as wide as 18 inches across, estimated to weigh 300 lbs. Also of interesting note, there is a micro-organism called Acantharea (radiolarian protozoans) which have skeletons of strontium sulfate (aka Celestine). Celestine has sometimes been mined as a source of strontium, but always in very small quantities.

Crystal Cave, the worlds largest geode, is made up of large celestine crystals.

If there's a stone you would like to know more about - drop me a line! Have a mystery stone? Feel free to post a comment about it, including a link to a picture, and it could be featured on this blog!

Celestine Facts:
Chemical composition: SrSO4
Color: colorless, white, yellow, orange, gray, green, brown, pale blue
Habit: prismatic and tabular, also massive and granular
Fracture: uneven
Cleavage: prismatic and basal
Luster: vitreous
Hardness: 3-3.5
Specific Gravity: 3.9
Streak: White
Occurrence: Worldwide, mainly in the northern US, Europe, and Madagascar


Rocks, Minerals, & Fossils of the World by C. Pellant and R. Phillips. Published 1990 by Little, Brown and Co. ISBN: 0316697966

Mindat – Celestine.

Wikipedia – Celestine.

Wikipedia – Crystal Cave.


Come join me and many of my fellow etsians in the first ever YART sale on Etsy! A selection of items will be on sale in my store for the entire 10 days in the "Yart Sale" section. Prices are already reduced so no waiting for a revised invoice Variety may vary throughout the sale so grab these while you can!

Click HERE to go directly to my Yart Sale items!

Friday Favorites - BlueDogRose

Friday, June 6, 2008
A brand new series of blogs featuring some of my favorite items from fellow artisans! To start, this week features some of my favorites from Nakisha at

This was the very first item of Nakisha's that I saw on Etsy and being a bunny lover it caught my attention immediately! It's still one of my favorites, and reminds me of my little rabbits and how they would love to frolic in a field of flowers :)

Being the science geek that I am this one also quickly became a favorite! Rabbits in Space - how awesome is that! Many of her images feature the "little white rabbit".

What really sets Nakisha's work apart I think is how the images come to life. Each one tells a story. You can easily imagine what is going on in each picture, what the animals may be thinking or if they could talk, say to one another. In this respect, Nakisha's work also reminds me of the imagery by Beatrix Potter, but with her own unique mark. I just love Nakisha's work!

Nakisha has a assortment of her work to pick from, including fine art prints, ACEOs, buttons, pendants, even a book of her work! She also does some very fun and neat wire sculpture as well. Her work can also be found at her website

So be sure to stop by Nakisha's shop to get your own "little white rabbit" work of art!

Fun with Organic Chemistry

Thursday, June 5, 2008
So I took on the Mad Scientists of Etsy Team challenge of Organic Chemistry for May, and it was a challenge let me tell you! Organic chemistry is the study of chemical compounds containing carbon and hydrogen. Chemists often use a sort of 'short-hand' to represent how chemicals look. Carbon for instance can form a ring, often with hydrogen attached - when there are six of these carbons they are usually represented by a simple hexagon. Hence the inspriration for my item!

This pendant is about 2.5" long, and has a very cool looking Bronzite stone bead in the middle that moves!

I created a pendant out of 16 ga copper wire that I shaped, then wire wrapped a very fine gauge wire around it. Suspended in the middle is a hexagonal cut Bronzite stone bead. What I love about this pendant is that the Bronzite bead moves from side to side or even spins! My fingers have never been so sore - not even after a day long rock hunt! Wire wrappers I think you definitely don't have to worry about me - I can't see me doing it that often, lol The pendant can be found in my Etsy store here.

A length of soft brown sude cord really compliments the pendant and works well with the color scheme.

The team had quite the response to this challenge! So many that we ended up with not one but two treasuries on Etsy!

The first of two treasuries which can be found here.

The team's second treasury, featuring challenge items as well as a few other fun items from the team as we didn't have quite enough for the second treasury. Check it out here!