The first of June slammed us with a sucker punch. Seemingly in the span of a few moments, we were rudely dropped into 109-degree Las Vegas heat after weeks of an idyllically green, beflowered Nebraska spring. Ouch! Continuing our annual challenge to discover the interesting oddities of the Las Vegas area while we’re in town for the JCK show, this year’s field trip was a short drive south of the city. This new site specific sculpture by Ugo Rondinone is titled Seven Magic Mountains.
Enormous limestone boulders painted playfully vivid colors stand like totems in the desert. According to signage at the site, the sculpture reflects “balanced marvels and excessive colors…and the contrary air between the desert and the city lights.”

Given the extreme heat, we were delighted to have use of a pool at our airbnb lodging. Yes, that is a real chicken, one of three sociable hens who shared our patio.

At the show

My booth at the Design Center before the show opened.

A nice feature of my bracelet in JCK Magazine!

More opals!

A large gem show and supplier section are part of the wholesale jewelry show. I was looking especially for boulder opals. Prices of opals have escalated significantly in recent years, so the treasure hunt is on for opals that are beautiful, interesting and still affordable.

The larger stones in the front row are stunning collector pieces costing many thousands of dollars. The upper rows are still in 4- to 5-digit prices!

A simple pendant combining one of my new Yowah opals with a couple of sapphires.

One of my suppliers handed me this spectacular fist-sized pair of opalized dinosaur bone. Once a shallow inland sea where dinosaurs swam and roamed, the opal region of Australia is the only location in the world where opalized animal fossils occur.

The extreme opposite

A couple of weeks later, we bookended the month in a region that could hardly differ more from Las Vegas. The Nebraska Sandhills, location of this year’s 5-day Tour de Nebraska bike ride, is not only far from the neon lights but is a designated dark sky location where astronomers gather to view the planets and constellations With a population of around 2800, Valentine was our biggest town, while tiny Burton boasts a population of 10!

Churning on your bike under the expansive skies in fresh, cool air at 6:30 in the morning is gloriously exhilarating. What made this year’s tour special for me, in addition to the beautiful landscape and fortunately perfect weather, was that my brother and his wife joined us for the ride. Both avid mountain bikers at home in Ketchum, Idaho, adapting to road riding in the Great Plains was a novel experience for them. An excellent family reunion!

Since most of you are likely unfamiliar with Nebraska, here’s a sampler from the tour:

Woo hoo!

Dramatic clouds over our campground in Valentine.

The Niobrara River. We crossed it 3 times with 3-mile hills on each side. What goes down must come back up!

The final morning’s ride.

The church ladies of tiny Burton served tacos, home made baked goods, fruit and cold water at one of our numerous sag stops. The friendliness and generosity of the rural communities was wonderful.

Dessert, anyone? These ladies must have been baking all week to supply our rest stop.

Storm approaching while we visited a cattle ranch/vineyard for dinner.

Coneflowers and prairie grasses.

Summer Colors

In the studio, we’ve been working on a collection for my upcoming trunk show at the end of July, in Sonoma at Terra Firma Gallery. Please note! The Terra Firma show will be a great opportunity for those of you who live in the greater San Francisco area to see my new work since I won’t be at the ACC show at Ft. Mason this year. While I’m sorry to miss the San Francisco show, I am also pretty excited about Craig’s and my upcoming August adventure in Iceland!

The blue skies and leafy greens of a summer’s day inspired this palette of aquamarine, peridot and tourmaline.

Earth tones: labradorite, grossular garnet, green tourmaline.

I’ve been into terra cotta and pink hues lately. A Reef cuff with Sea of Cortez pearl, peach tourmalines, champagne diamond.

Pink tourmalines! These pieces will be at the Terra Firma show at the end of July.

Also appearing in Sonoma: new rings!

Two moments of Zen

Leaving Las Vegas.

The road.

Hey, I’ve got to run… book club has started without me as I’m rushing to finish this and send it out before you all take off for your holiday weekends. Happy 4th of July!

Till the next time,

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