1978-1985



While studying art at Orange Cost College in the mid seventies my interest in stone work started to blossom. I clearly remember seeing a pin with a rose carved of Red Coral set in sterling silver and thinking to my self how cool this was and amazed at the job someone did.

During this same time period I met two different people that were doing inlay/overlay Southwest style stone mosaic on spiny oyster shells. One was Billy Jones of whom I lost track of almost instantly. The other was Lee Louden of Crescent Valley, NV. Lee became a good friend a major influence and cohort for the next twenty or so years.

Anyway we can all blame Lee and Billy for starting what you see below.




Early Mosaic Shells 1978-1981


WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY DEFINES MOSAIC:

1. The process of making pictures or designs by inlaying small bits of colored stone, glass, tile. etc. in mortar.

2. Inlaid work made by this process.

3. A picture or design so made.

All of my early work was an stone overlay but I still considered them Mosaic Work


1978

Stone Mosaic Over Very Small Clam Shell

This is the first shell in a series that I started in 1978. One thing to note, I started using curved stone cuts very early.
All shells when done were signed and dated. The early shells were signed on the back inside the actual shell. The later shells were also signed on the stonework up around the top of the shell.



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Signed and dated #1 1978

Indian Mountian Turquoise, Orange Spiny Oyster, Gold Lip MOP and Jet.

Set in Sterling Silver with gallery wire bezel.






Suzi's Shell


Mosaic Shell Australian Opal Chilean Lapis

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Signed and dated #2 1978

Australian Opal & Chilean Lapis 41mm 1.6" tall

If you enlarge the image you will notice gaps between some of the stones. As my talents improved I would offer a potential buyer a 10 power eye loupe so they could see there were few if any gaps in my work.



1978-1979

Left Azurite, Red Coral and Australian Opal set in Sterling Silver.

Center "First Mimbres Inspired Lizard" repeated many times over the years. Nevada Turquoise, Jet, Red Coral and Gold Lip Mother of Pearl

Right B.C. Jade, Aventurine and Red Coral set in Sterling Silver.

Stone Mosaic Shells
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1979

Mom's Shell



First Butterfly and one of the largest shells I ever overlaid. 70mm X 70mm 2 3/4 X 2 3/4 inch

Nevada Turquoise, Arizona Turquoise, Sodalite, Opal

Signed and dated #9 79

Stone Mosaic Shell Butterfly Nevada Green Tree Turquoise, Arizona Turquoise, Sodalite, Opal
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1979-1980

By this time the gaps in my work had all but disappeared.

Left Chrysoprase, Chrysocolla, Lapis, Red Coral, Jet and Australian Opal set in Sterling Silver.

Center Two colors Nevada Turquoise, Jet, Red Coral, Lapis, White and Gold Lip Mother of Pearl set in Sterling Silver.

Right Turquoise and Jet set in Sterling Silver.

Stone Mosaic Shell Chrysoprase, Chrysocolla, Lapis, Red Coral, Jet and Australian Opal
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1980 or 1981

Early on a very strong and long lasting influence in my art work was the simple yet elegant designs of the ancient Mimbres Indians of Southwestern New Mexico.

In my early work and thru most of the nineties, I would just have to do another Mimbres inspired piece.

Below is an example of an early complicated design.

With the use of only five colors, this fish almost comes alive.

Stone Mosaic Shell Nevada Turquoise, Orange Spiny Oyster, White and Gold Lip MOP and Jet
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Nevada Turquoise, Orange Spiny Oyster, White and Gold Lip MOP and Jet.

Set in Sterling Silver.




1979-1980

Design Based On The Old Time Tobacco Canteen

Two Separate Mosaic Shells glued together then drilled for top stopper in silver work.

I had two shells I could not market, so I glued them together for this very small canteen.

Silver work produced from half round wire and sheet.

Materials used Orange and Red Spiny Oyster Shell, two types Turquoise, Jet and Chrysophrase.

Stone Mosaic Tobacco Canteen Orange and Red Spiny Oyster Shell, two types Turquoise, Jet and ChrysophraseStone Mosaic Tobacco Canteen Orange and Red Spiny Oyster Shell, two types Turquoise, Jet and Chrysophrase
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Unfortunatley I only have a clear image of this Adventurine side, the oposite side was kind of drab B. C. Jade.

The silverwork is made with gallery wire and sheet. I made a channel on the outer edge that was then inlaid with Red Coral the stopper was also capped with Red Coral

Adventurine Stone Mosaic Tobacco Canteen
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Of only four canteens I was to make this is the largest and most interesting late 1980.

Silver work produced from half round wire and sheet. Stopper set with Sodalite cabochon.

Materials used Sodalite, Orange and Red Spiny Oyster Shell, three types Turquoise, Gold Lip MOP, Tortoise Shell and Lepidolite

Stone Mosaic Tobacco Canteen Sodalite, Orange and Red Spiny Oyster Shell, three types Turquoise, Gold Lip MOP, Tortoise Shell and LepidoliteStone Mosaic Tobacco Canteen Sodalite, Orange and Red Spiny Oyster Shell, three types Turquoise, Gold Lip MOP, Tortoise Shell and Lepidolite
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In early 1981 I made the decision that I was going to take a break from shell mosaic. My main reason, for the hours spent on shell mosaic projects I just wasn't able to sell the finished product for a high enough price.





Mosaic Shells 1984

In 1984 after honing my skills in Lapidary and Metal work for three years. I felt that the time might be right to once again produce
"Shell Mosaic"

At this time I had been a full time Lapidary for six years and had managed to collect far finer materials than used in my earlier shell mosaic work.

You will notice in the work below that my design skills had improved dramatically.





Charlotte's Birthday Present


I had known Scotty and Charlotte Bennett of Castle Gap Jewelry Co. Dallas for about four years when I received a call from Scotty asking me to make Charlotte a "RED CORAL" shell for her birthday.

Charlotte being a good friend and knowing that she truly loved red coral. I knew that I better do the best statement I could in Red Coral, below you will see the results.



Mosaic Shell Nevada Fox Turquoise, Red Coral, White Coral and Lapis with an Opal eye set in 14K Gold  Mosaic Shell Natural Nevada Fox Turquoise, Red Coral, White Coral and Lapis with an Opal eye set in 14K Gold

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Again using few colors a very striking design .

Red Coral, Nevada "Fox" Turquoise, Chalcosiderite and Lapis.

The Beads were Red Coral, Turquoise, Lapis and Chalcosiderite I believe the length was 28 inches.

The back of the silver work is set with a Red Coral mosaic panel.

This shell was produced in early 1984. You will notice that this looks like solid red coral, it's hard to believe that there are probably more that fifty separate pieces of coral on the face of this shell.

If you look closely at the lizard it took over 100 pieces of stone to make up this pattern.

At this time in my career I was producing the finest shell mosaic I was to do.





Best Fish of All


Mosaic Shell Nevada Fox Turquoise, Red Coral, White Coral and Lapis with an Opal eye set in 14K Gold  Mosaic Shell Natural Nevada Fox Turquoise, Red Coral, White Coral and Lapis with an Opal eye set in 14K Gold

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A striking design using few colors.

Nevada "Fox" Turquoise, Red Coral, White Coral and Lapis with an Opal eye set in 14K Gold.

If you take the time to count the separate pieces of stone in the fish again more than 100.

This shell was produced in late 1984 and one goal in it's production was making truly round beads 100% freehand on the grinder. I managed to do this and then had people think that I had purchased and not handmade the beads because they were so perfect.







After Charlotte's shell I had the desire to make another Coral shell. I made some minor design changes working toward what would end up being the last shell in the sreies I made a few months later in the year.



Mosaic Shell Red Coral, Chalcosiderite, Damele Varasite, Lapis and 14K Gold beads

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Red Coral, Chalcosiderite, Domallie Varasite, Lapis and 14K Gold beads.

This shell was finished off in this way at the request of my customer. It is the only shell I did that I then drilled for stringing.








1984

My second of only two Butterflies



 Mosaic Shell  Black Jade, Kingman Turquoise, Sugilite, Orange and Red Coral set in Silver

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Nice use of muted colors.

Black Jade, Kingman Turquoise, Sugilite, Orange and Red Coral set in Silver. Hand cut Orange Coral beads.

This shell was produced in mid 1984. The stone count in just the butterfly excceded 110.

I was very happy with the mosaic shell but I always thought the beads I made to string it on were a little small.






In late 1984 or early 1985 I did what was to become the last shell overlay I have done to date.

The mosaic in this shell is by far the most involved of any I'd done. The background is done with the finest orange coral I've ever owned, funny thing being when I bought the coral it was sold to me as possibly no good it was full of worm holes on the exterior, the weight of the piece clued me in that there should be plenty of usable material on the inside, as you can see my thoughts were right.



Mosaic Shell Brown Damele Turquoise Green Damele Turquoise Morenci Turquoise Lapis Sugilite and Gem Australian Opal

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The lizard is composed of two colors of Damele Turquoise from Nevada, brown for the tail and a light to dark green for the body. The lines in the tail and neck are best Lapis and extremely hard high blue Turquoise from Morenci AZ. For the arrow shapes I surrounded gel Sugilite with the Morenci Turquoise. I finished the eyes in Gem Opal inserted into 14K gold tubing.

To finish the shell into a necklace I made a silver setting that had a separator between the top and bottom pieces of plate silver sheet, this gave me a channel that I then inlaid orange coral, the small strip of coral in the image is not part of the actual shell, it is the channel. I hand made 3/8" in diameter silver beads and also made similar three piece beads with a channel so I could inlay the beads with the various colors of stone I'd used.



Mosaic Shell Brown Damele Turquoise Green Damele Turquoise Morenci Turquoise Lapis Sugilite and Gem Australian Opal

Photo Light Language .. Gallup, NM




If you know someone that owns on of my shells not on this page I would love contact information on them.

I also have an interest in purchasing any work that I have produced over the years, so if you have something and would like to sell it, I'll give it a good home.





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Andre Gide ... "Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better."