Week 3 of My Tucson Jewelry Adventure: Rocks and Inspiration!

By on February 10, 2011
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I hope you enjoy reading this article about our past experiences in Tucson, Arizona. But we can’t wait to see you at the upcoming Tucson 2013 Shows: specifically, the JOGS Show, where the Wire-Sculpture and JewelryTools.com crew will be supporting at least 18 renowned jewelry instructors at the JewelryTools Classes – teaching over 120 projects! There’s still time for you to sign up, we’d love to see you there – Click here to explore our Tucson Jewelry Classes, Feb 1 – Feb. 12, 2012!

Take a Class at JOGS in Tucson, Arizona!

I just got back from Tucson last night, and I had a blast! Here’s my final update from the Tucson Gem Shows.

Oh, and before I forget – to let you get some of the great wholesale deals folks are getting at the Tucson shows, all Wire-Sculpture Tools are 20% off, now through February 15, 2011! And if we don’t have the tool you’re looking for, use promo code TUCSON20 on JewelryTools.com to save 20% on your order on our sister site, www.JewelryTools.com! More on the sales in a minute –

As our time in Tucson was winding down, it was time to visit some fun shows, say hi to friends, and enjoy the sunny weather. Although many shows were indoors, with strands of Swarovskis and enchanting gemstone beads draped by the dozen across tables and covering the walls, my favorite shows that I saw were outside, under tents and pavilions. Next time, I will bring a hat for the bright sun!

I’ve been trying to explain how big the Tucson shows are to my coworkers who didn’t come down. Imagine your city, or the city closest to you. Think of all the hotels and convention centers downtown: the entire first floor of each hotel is filled with strands of beads, pearls, and cases of finished jewelry! The convention centers filled with exhibits and vendors! And on the outskirts of town, county fair-sized sprawling shows made of tents and RVs – a total of over 40 individual shows, with scores of vendors in each venue!

White Tents Everywhere
White tents just seemed to pop up everywhere!

Yet somehow, parking was always easy to find, thanks to workers with signs and directions. Not only was I able to find some fun stones and lots of ideas for my own jewelry making, but I also found some finished jewelry for gifts for my family and friends, at wholesale prices – what a bargain!

During this trip, I got to see some amazing finished jewelry, including beadwork, wirework, and glass jewelry, as well as art pieces, and polished and cut fossil displays. I really wish you could have been here with me to see all the amazing pieces, because so much of it was photography-restricted.

With the weather back up to 70° and warmer, it was perfect weather to go look for uncut rocks and explore the outdoor shows. So let me show you some of my favorite finds from the Tucson Electric Park show, which is an outdoor show with a huge range, from rough stones for lapidaries, to polished rocks and animal pelts, to inexpensive finished jewelry, carvings, and scarves at wholesale prices:

Glittering Malachite
A huge piece of malachite, glittering in the sun: this piece is about 8" across, priced at $275 (but vendors are often willing to haggle!)

Tiffany Stone
A bowling ball-sized piece of Tiffany Stone. Tiffany Stone is only found in Utah, and it’s named for the black ribbons throughout the rock, which are reminiscent of
Tiffany Stained Glass.

Orthoceras Fossils
A serving tray made from the fossilized remains of Orthoceras, an extinct sea creature, similar to a squid, which grew to about 6" long. Many orthoceras were fossilized at the same time, resulting in distinct white remains among the black rock.

Picasso Marble
A round sample of Picasso Marble, about 12" in diameter – this piece was marked at $5,000!

Wire Sculptures
One of the most fascinating booths was a talented wire artist, Lui Escoto, who created fascinating figures out of wire – each of these wire statues was at least a foot tall, with incredible detail!

Wire Sculptures

Dale showed me how to shop for rocks at this show. Most rough rocks are found in big 4-foot square crates, with squirt bottles to show the gleaming colors beneath a layer of desert dust. This vendor, Stone Circles Lapidary, had already cut slices of rock, and had them in pans of water, ready for cutting in to cabs:

Stone Slabs in water
Tubs of submerged slabs

Birdseye Rhyolite
Here’s a nice piece of Birdseye Rhyolite from Mexico – how pretty!

Assorted Slabs
Miscellaneous slabs up for grabs

Petrified Wood
There’s a lot of petrified wood this year – cut it across the tree branch to expose the rings!

And then, all too soon, it was time to go. We took down our booth at JOGS, shipped everything back to the warehouse, and headed home.

Flying Home
Flying Home with the Sunset

I can’t wait to go back next year!! These weeks seemed to just fly by.

Well, now that I’m back to the office and unpacked, here’s the final sale announcement I promised you:

Save 20% on All Jewelry Tools! All Wire-Sculpture tools are 20% off through Tuesday, February 15th. Plus, when you check out our sister site, JewelryTools.com, you can use promo code TUCSON20 to save 20% on your JewelryTools order, too! (Promo Code good through 2/15/11).

And don’t forget, also through February 15th, 2011! , you can save 20% on all DVDs, save 60% on Glitter Handle Pliers, and save 60% on Lucky Stone CZs!

JewelryTools.comJewelry Making ToolsLucky Stones

Save 20% on All Tools – Click to Explore!
Save 20% on Tools!

Rose Marion


  1. avatar


    February 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I am really interested in how the Indian men were made out of the wire. That was a very interesting picture. I make American Indian jewelry myself, so I found those to be quite intriging.

  2. avatar


    February 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Did I miss something along the way of enjoying your Wire Sculpture site….what are Glitter Pliers?

  3. avatar


    February 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Connie! Glitter handle pliers are a fun line of pliers from Euro Tool we’ve been carrying (example); you can find them by clicking Tools at the top of this page, then clicking Pliers. Thanks for asking!

  4. avatar

    Lynn Martinson

    February 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I need tools so I am happy to see them on sale somewhat. Your sister site, The Tool Shop, has even less information on each tool than you do, if you can believe that. I will just buy some from you and when I get them here I will see what I can use and what I can’t. I will send back what I can’t. Heck of a way to shop!!!!!!!!! I use up my savings in postage going two ways. I wish I knew a good blacksmith.

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  6. avatar

    Sharon Nodelman

    February 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm


    I made it to Tucson safe and sound. It was -27 Celsius when I left Ottawa. I got to many of the tents and also the gem show at the convention centre. Being new to this business I found it all very overwhelming. Your tips have helped but I wish I could have joined you on your visit, I would have learned more.

    Still here and now visiting some of the sites. We went to the Desert Museum in Sonora it was fascinating. Tomorrow we head to Tubak, an artist colony and they are now hosting an art festival. Sunday we head to Scottsdale for 2 weeks of hiking and then home to unpack, do laundry and make some jewelry.

    Stay warm.


  7. avatar


    February 12, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I love natural stones and most of my jewelry is made from turquoise, tiger eye, and all things natural. I would have loved to have been there with you! Thanks for the pics, those stones you pointed out are gorgeous!

  8. avatar


    December 7, 2011 at 6:57 am

    I was at the rock show by the baseball field and ending up buying Lui Escoto’s 2 wire sculptures! The Hopi dancer and the Native with a bow and arrow. His amazing attention to detail is incredible! They look very nice displayed in my living room! Thank you Lui!

    • avatar


      December 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

      Oh my goodness Chris – how totally awesome!! I envy you, Lui is an amazing artist!