Crystal Treasure Trove
Copyright © 2015 - Bill Kaunitz
Picture # 50
This 1983 portrait by Bill Disney has a distinct Arkansas look, because, well, we were in Arkansas. I am holding a Tennessee “termite crystal.” This piece of petrified wood was chewed up by termites before it turned into a hollow rock over millions of years. The rock's tiny tunnels are coated with miniature quartz crystals. I still have it in my collection.
Picture # 51
By the time I was ready to move out of Arkansas in 1989, I found a young couple to buy out my crystal collection. Dave and Shelly brought their cats to stay with us while we transferred the crystals to the new owners. The cats loved the stones perhaps as much as we did. My house cats also liked to sleep on crystals. I guess they had sweet kitty dreams.
Dave and Shelley bought 10,000 pounds of crystals from me. They opened up a store called Crystal Cats in Florida. Hey guys, if you are still around, give me a call and let's reconnect!
Picture # 52
Shelley's cat is in an amethyst geode from Brazil that weighs about 225 pounds. Great color, great shape with a big golden calcite crystal at the tip. That golden crystal seemed to fascinate the cat. I always like to put my crystals on some kind of cloth or fabric, in this case a piece of sheepskin, because the crystals can scratch up furniture or get really dirty if you put them directly on the ground. This particular stone takes two big guys to move, and has traveled from Brazil to many different states in the USA.
Picture # 53
Charlie the Eskimo dog joins the Crystal Cats for a furry portrait.
Picture # 54
This Crystal Mountain, Arkansas quartz reminds me of a stone shark. Often these little cave pieces resemble gaping jaws. I like to imagine my crystals as living creatures, friendly pets. In a sense, looking at the crystals is like "cloud gazing." The crystals may inspire visions on many levels.
I learned this incredibly important message, or rather, viewpoint, from my crystal mentor, John G. He studies artistic patterns in quartz, amber and selenite to see how different parts of the universe can be visualized in an "abstract" stone. He looks for the repeating patterns (fractals and waves) that link all levels of reality.
His invaluable visual and philosophical skills pointed me on the path of photographic crystallography that I follow to this day.
Picture # 55
Some people adopt live birds. I collect crystal birds. This is a specialty carving style from Brazil. The Brazilians are the masters of portraying wildlife in stone along with amazing Japanese and Chinese carvers. The 6-inch owl is carved from labradorite, a silicate that glows with different colors from different directions. The clear quartz cluster comes from Brazil, one of the world's great producers of quartz crystals and other gems.
At one point Brazil had over 100,000 gem and crystal mines. That number has decreased dramatically in recent years as many mines have been closed for safety reasons. Brazil still has the largest reserve of crystals left in the ground.
Even as people dig millions of crystals every year, new crystals are forming in volcanic regions every day. It is nice to know that gems and stones are renewable resources. Laboratory research into quartz indicates that many crystals grow really quickly in the ground. There is a common misconception that crystals take millions of years to grow. I think small quartz crystals can grow in a matter of days under extreme heat and pressure. Other kinds of minerals, like selenite and calcite stalactites, may indeed take thousands or millions of years to grow.
Picture # 56
Emmett “Pappy” Gossage, seen here at age 70, was one of the great old time miners in Arkansas. He and his wife, Rosa Mae, started digging crystals in the 1930s as a way to supplement their meager income. The two of them hiked and drove all over the State of Arkansas looking for potential crystal mines. They dug in hundreds of locations! Over the next 60 years, they found crystals in a multitude of sizes and colors.
In the years before I was born, the five Gossage brothers dug enormous trenches next to Lake Winona near Little Rock. The family produced close to 100,000 pounds of fine quartz just from a single 100-foot long hole. I was lucky enough to buy what was left over in the 1980s. I ended up getting tons of quartz from them.
Picture # 57
Pappy had a real flair for finding unusual stones. He started his crystal career one fine summer day at sunset. As a young man with an 18-year-old wife during the Great Depression, Pappy hunted and fished for his dinner. One day, returning to their camp in the hills, they saw a crack in a hillside that was lit by the last rays of the setting sun. The little cave glowed and sparkled with mysterious light. Pappy and Mae could peek in and see twinkling glimmers of light but had no idea what caused it.
When they tried to find the cave later, they had no luck locating it. By then, they knew crystals caused the sparkles inside the earth. Even 50 years later, they never could find that sparkling hillside geode.
Pappy was a huge, strong guy who wielded a pickaxe like a precision tool. Even at age 80, he was still digging crystals. The man was tireless and had twice the energy that I did even though I was half his age. He took me to exotic little mines all over the hills of Paron County. He helped me develop treasure maps to find the crystals. I still miss my “extra parents” from the hills of Arkansas. I am eternally grateful that they opened their home and collection to me. If there is a Crystal Heaven somewhere, Pappy and Mae are still mining for celestial gems.
Picture # 58
Enter the Crystal Lady of my life, Nancy Silverhawk. Nancy came into my life magically in 1989. She told me years later that she recognized me as her mate on the first day we met. She has always been way ahead of me!
She helps me build sculptures from crystals to turn them into majestic artworks. She is an accomplished artist in bronze, wood and fabric. It seems like she can do anything. When I met her, she was fixing all the carpentry, plumbing, and electric wiring in her house. She took me into her life and supported all my grandiose crystal plans. She is my muse and inspiration.
Picture # 59
If you have a chance to visit our museum and showroom near Monterey, California, you can meet the amazing Nancy in her natural environment, surrounded by our artworks. Her training in design and fine arts helps us create a beautiful space.
To purchase Book 2 in the "Crystal Collecting with Crystal Bill" series Crystal Love Story, go to www.ElegantCrystals.com