Search For Michigan Gemstones

I wanted to share my search for Michigan gemstones with all of you.  My goal was to search for Leland Blue Stones, Petoskey Stones and beach glass.

beachview

Lake Michigan in the Spring is beautiful!  The beaches are so fresh and clean from all the Winter storms.  Many Lake ‘icebergs’ were still hanging around.

Lake Michigan 'Icebergs'

Lake Michigan ‘Icebergs’

Zebra mussel shells had collected in mass at certain areas along the water’s edge. Unfortunately, these are not native to the Lake and are quite destructive to the Lake’s natural ecosystem.

Zebra Mussel Shells

Zebra Mussel Shells

Our first day on the beach lasted approximately three minutes!  The wind was gusting at 30 mph.  It didn’t matter that we had thermal underwear, parkas, scarfs, mittens, etc.!  It cut right through us!  My husband beat me back to the car and took this ‘lovely’ pic of me!

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!

Two days later we were able to walk the beach and search for nature’s treasures.  I found some beautiful fossils but not what I was searching for.  Was I disappointed?  Absolutely not!  Viewing Lake Michigan’s beauty was prize enough!  I now have an excuse to vacation on Lake Michigan again!

Bowling Balls Upcycled

Bowling balls upcycled is a fairly new phenomenon today.  They are not just for the bowling alley anymore.  You could say that they are in a ‘league’ of their own!

Here’s a little history about the bowling ball.  C’mon, you know your curious!  Ancient Egyptians invented the game.  Their bowling balls were carved out of stone.  Later, during the 1900’s, balls were made of wood and then rubber.  It was around 1960 when bowling ball manufacturers started using polyester resin which enabled the production of plastic balls with bright, sparkling colors.  Evidently, you can now add a ‘scent’ to your bowling ball that is guaranteed to last ten years and will refresh your bowling shoes when they are placed with your ball in your bowling bag!

As I have worked in the jewelry industry, I have come upon many unique manmade materials. Leland Blue Stone and Fordite are great examples of these which are being repurposed into beautiful artwork and jewelry.

 

Matt Cole Bracelet

Just recently, I encountered a few very talented artists who have made a business out of recycling bowling balls.  Matt Cole, matt-cole.com, makes beautiful jewelry from the colorful ‘faux gemstone’ outer shells of the balls.   And then Andree Le Blanc, lagniappe mosaic.com, has the most stunning gazing balls that you will ever find.  And guess what, they will not blow away!

Gazing Ball Garden Tower by Andree Le Blanc

I also was a league bowler from the age of 10 through 16.  Being that my family was strapped for cash, my father purchased me a used blue swirl bowling ball.  We were fairly lucky that the finger holes were only a ‘little’ too big. The ball weighed in at 14 pounds. Let alone hold it, I could hardly throw it.  There was never a risk of losing or mixing up my ball with the other bowlers, ‘Mrs. Tank’ was clearly engraved on the ball!

It’s wonderful that so many artists are letting their creative side show!!  In the past, so many were worried about negative feedback.  But not today!  Who knows what will be upcycled next!

Oh, and by the way, is anyone interested in my ‘Mrs. Tank’ ball?  Just kidding!!!

 

Leland Bluestone – Northern Michigan’s Manmade Jewel

From Northern Michigan shores comes an unlikely gem called Leland Bluestone.  Found in small amounts along the beaches, Leland Bluestone has a porous appearance and comes in an array of colors, ranging from purple to rich, deep blue.

Leland Bluestone

More than 100 years old, this stone was created by iron foundaries smelting iron for the railroads.  Iron ore was mixed with borax and other chemicals and heated to extreme temperatures.  When the ore would reach these hot temperatures, the ‘junk’ would float to the top.  This ‘junk’ is bluestone.  It was then discarded as slag into the lake and on the shores, creating this manmade jewel.  It ranges in size from a small pebble to an 8″ stone.

Leland Bluestone

Rock collectors and jewelers alike flock to the Northern Michigan shores in search of this quickly disappearing stone.  If you get a chance to enjoy the incredible beauty of Northern Michigan, take some time off the beaten path to see what you can find along the scenic Lake Michigan beaches.