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Power in My Hands

Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,

Have you ever been overwhelmed by too many choices and wanted some clarity of mind? Maybe you have a tranquil landscape, room, music or artwork to escape to. When faced with this feeling in the studio, I consider the sculptural subject I’m working on – is it a polar bear hunting to feed her cubs or eagles sparring in mid-air? Whether as a sparkling, snowy backdrop or featured as a frosted animal, polished quartz crystal allows the light to pass through and illuminate the sculpture, while the accumulated raw and faceted form offers endless sculptural expression. This blog post focusses on the purest stone that I know of and that is quartz-crystal.

Since I began working with this gem in the mid 90’s, I’ve witnessed an amazing evolution around this stone. At one time, optically clear quartz was readily available on the market at reasonable rates. Today, everytime I’m in need of more quartz, I find it is harder to come by, especially the clean specimens. As you read on, you will begin to appreciate the auscpisious qualities that quartz holds, serendiptiously it seems as if the quartz finds me. Out of the blue an unknown purveyor will contact me and share a new finding of a most treasured source. It is often a shape or formation that will be ideal for the compososition I am currently working on.

quartzcrystal-polarbearLeft: Rough quartz crystal. Right: ” COOL MOVE ” – Polar Bear. Quartz crystal, Amethyst, by Sopel Studio.

Mined predominantly in Brazil, Madagascar and Mount Ida in Arkansas, quartz crystals can be found all over the world. It can form in all temperatures and is highly durable against chemical and mechanical weathering, making it the primary component in mountaintops, beach, river and desert sand. Scientists have discovered that quartz has been central to our understanding of crystals overall. Danish scientist Nicolas Steno found in 1669 that no matter where on Earth quartz crystals were found, two different crystal specimens from different mining sites formed the same angles on similar facets. René Just Haüy, a French scientist who studied the arrangement of atoms in crystalline solids in the 19th century, elaborated on Steno’s finding. Haüy discovered that the same rules underlie the shapes and angles of all crystals. Thus, we know that crystal formations are visual expressions of their microscopic atomic arrangement.

It was believed in antiquity that quartz crystals were eternal ice sent by the gods, leaving early scientists baffled until the late 1500s, who thought they were ice fossils. We know now that clear quartz crystal  is one the most abundant elements on Earth. The quartz family grows in many formations all based on the same atomic shape – a double helix pattern, like human DNA. Clear quartz crystal has a prismatic effect when natural, clear light passes through it, making a quietly powerful stone in comparison to the fiery brilliance of diamonds.

Quartz crystal is one of the most recognized types of crystals, and it is the default visual reference for all crystals, even though there are many different types and colours. Like all natural gemstones and minerals, quartz crystals can be icy clear or have various inclusions, though visual clarity isn’t top priority in it’s energy and capacity to draw out profound qualities.

Clear quartz crystal’s metaphysical qualities encompass power, clarity and energy. It channels energy by balancing, focussing and dissemination. It’s energy clarifies thoughts and is beneficial for mediatation and healing. If we consider information a kind of energy, then it is also good at ‘programming’ – that is, if you condition it to send love to a friend, it will transmit that energy until you assign it a new task or it has been cleansed.

A stone of clarity, it has the ability to dispel negativity and purify on a spiritural, mental and physical level. Its ability to clarify thoughts and emotions promotes creativity in problem-solving in virtually any context. Quartz crystal is a good stone for obtaining ancient wisdom that can be applied to present life and for dream work and dream recollection.

img-thing sevan-bicakci-konya-ringFantasy rings by Sevan Bicacki.

However, for over a millenium, clear quartz crystal was the most important quartz. It’s significance is affirmed by visits to the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain and the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands where Ann and Si Frazier, gemologist researchers who published in the April 1992 Lapidary Journal on the history of quartz crystal, found “entire galleries are devoted to masterpieces of Renaissance art in the form of carved and engraved Alpine rock crystal”. For a different approach to working with quartz crystal, there’s out-of-this-world Turkish jeweller, Sevan Bicacki, who works with carved and engraved crystals, gemstones, gold and enamel  to create fantasy jewellery. Bicakci’s jewellery suggests a highly artisanship resurgence in quartz crystal carving that is rarely seen today.

Bicacki is inspired by the jewellery of René Lalique and Turkish architecture along with Ottoman and Byzantine influences. He says “I started creating the the dome-like rings using reverse intaglio carving when I wanted to find a new way to cut (or carve) into a gemstone. Imagine always seeing a diamond cut exactly as it is—but what if you turned it over and tried to reverse the way the light was brought into the stone, making it more like a dome, more specifically like domes of Istanbul such as the Hagia Sophia? The only problem that remained was the emptiness of the big gemstone in the middle. That’s why I started carving things into them. I wanted to tell a story within a gemstone and this is how I do it.”

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-46-09-amSevan Bicacki at the jeweller’s bench.

Tilmorrow,
Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,

LYLE

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