By maryszakmeister

April 2013 Gemstone of the Month – Crystal Quartz

Cherry Quartz, unlike Rose Quartz, is human-made by melting glass in a furnace and combining it with swirls of pink to give it its distinct color and infusions or needles. Because of its soft color, it has long been regarded as a soothing, calming crystal that promotes love and healing. It is said to help clear negative emotions such as jealousy, anger and fear, and also alleviate heartache and psychic traumas. Wearing cherry quartz at night might promote peaceful sleep and creative inspiration. And, of course, it’s a lovely color for a gift for Mother’s Day.

December 2012 Gemstone of the Month–Snowflake Obsidian

In addition to being quite beautiful, Snowflake Obsidian has many great characteristics. It is strongly protective and shields against negativity. It brings clarity of mind and clears confusion. It helps you to know yourself, and move on from outdated behavior. Also great at this holiday time, it promotes qualities of compassion and strength and calms and soothes.

Snowflake Obsidian is especially useful at this time of year for its ability to help in scrying–this is, seeing visions. Specifically, visions of sugarplums! And like Santa, nothing can be hidden from Snowflake Obsidian, as it has truth-enhancing, reflective qualities which help release wrong or stressful mental processes, very helpful at holiday time!

Originating in Mexico, Snowflake obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass. It is formed when felsic* lava from a volcano cools without crystal growth. In addition to its use as a gemstone, it has been used in cardiac surgery; well-crafted obsidian blades have a cutting edge many times sharper than high-quality steel scalpels.

In addition to all these wonderful attributes and uses, Snowflake Obsidian is a stunningly beautiful gemstone, with white snow-flake like designs in deep black. So think about purchasing a piece of Snowflake Obsidian for yourself or someone you love. It will bring many advantages to whoever is lucky enough to wear it.

*In geology, felsic refers to silicate minerals, magma and rocks which are enriched with lighter elements such as silicon.

Mary Szakmeister

November 2012 Gemstone of the Month – Tiger Iron

Is the thought of Christmas shopping stressing you out?  Are you tired of wallowing in indecision about problems with kids, parents, in-laws, the dog?  November’s stone of the month will come to your rescue.  Tiger iron renews energy and gives you the support necessary to take action on all fronts.

Although its name may  not be as intriguing as Australian Dragon’s blood jade, Tiger Iron makes up for that in beauty.  It looks nothing like iron, rather it is steely silver, warm mahogany and chatoyant gold.

Quiz:  Who remembers what chatoyant means?  Hint: Check back to Tiger eye.

Relatively new to the gemstone market, Tiger Iron is a metamorphosed rock consisting of red jasper , tigereye and hematite . Billions of years ago deposits of these three parent stones were smashed together between shifting tectonic plates. The resulting stone has  distinctive bands of these three, a perfect complement to many earth-toned fashions. Deposits are found primarily in South Africa.

Tiger Iron is said to be beneficial for those who are deeply exhausted and drained by taking on other people’s feelings and emotions. It is also valuable for those suffering from emotional or mental burnout or family stress.

Tiger Iron encourages and supports change, giving you the energy to take necessary action. It is also a creative and artistic stone believed to bring out hidden talents and to help with creative endeavors.

So with the holidays looming, Tiger Iron is just the thing to wear to combat stress and exhaustion. Join us to make something for yourself or as a gift at one of our Bead with Us soirees.

Mary Szakmeister

October 2012 Gemstone of the Month – Labradorite

There is very good news about this month’s gemstone.  It purportedly detoxifies the body and slows down the aging process!  Bring it on!  As if that were not enough to get our total attention, it is useful when experiencing change, as it imparts strength and perseverance.  It is said to help with psychic abilities and revealing  the truth behind illusion.  In addition, it banishes fear and insecurities, strengthening faith in oneself and the universe. For those of an artistic bent, it stimulates the imagination, and for those who are too intense, it calms an overactive mind.

On the physical side, it is said to help the eyes and brain, and stimulate metabolism and balance.  No wonder it slows aging, it also lowers blood pressure.

Geologically, Labradorite is plagioclase feldspar which just means it’s a mineral within feldspar. The term comes from the Greek, meaning “oblique fracture” referring to its cleavage (in mineralogy, cleavage is the tendency of crystalline materials to split along definite  structural planes).

As its name would suggest, it was originally found at Paul’s Island, Labrador.  It was also found in WWII in Finland.  It has been found in some meteorites.

According to legend, when a wandering Eskimo freed the Northern Lights from imprisonment, a few were left trapped in the stone, giving today’s Labradorite its iridescence.  That iridescence gives it its other name, “Falcon’s Eye.”

And so, I close with, Good Luck! because that is what  this gorgeous iridescent gray stone is supposed to bring.

September 2012 Gemstone of the Month–Tiger’s Eye

The gemstone for September is Tiger’s Eye, and it has what every woman wants–chatoyancy! Chatoyancey means changeable luster–who can do without that? In the case of Tiger’s Eye, it has this iridescence because when its asbestos fibers are converted to iron oxide and then silica, its rich brown and golden colors are formed. It is a gem variety of quartz, a metamorphic rock found mainly in South Africa near diamond mines. It was once as valuable as diamonds.

As with the other stones of the month, Tiger’s Eye has many properties that bring advantages to the wearer. It is said to bring good luck and vitality. It promotes mental processes, which in turn help keep us objevtive. It helps in dealing with psychosomatic illnesses. It stabilizes mood swings and gives us courage and self-confidence. It is said to alleviate pain, release toxins and help in healing broken bones.

Tiger’s eye is a good luck stone, its rich golden color bringing increased wealth to the wearer. With its calming influence, its ability to bring passion and physical strength, tiger eye is a beautiful beneficial addition to your jewelry collection.

And since it can ward off dark magic, you’ll want to have a piece in time for Halloween! Join us to make a piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you care for.

Mary Szakmeister
Twitter: @artistsatheart






Australian Dragon's Blood

August 2012 Stone of the Month




Australian Dragon’s Blood: A serpentine mined out of Australia. “Dragon’s blood” refers to the red spots that are matrixed in the stone. Historically, in the 19th century, people became aware of the fire resistant nature of serpentine, as a result is was utilized in many materials and fabrics. According to legend, Romans used this stone as protection against sorcery and the dark arts.  Hardness: 6.5


July Stone of the Month – Rose Quartz

This month’s gemstone of the month is all about love. Rose Quartz aka “the lovestone” is pale pink to peach in color. This stone covers all types of love: self-love, passionate love, love for family and friends–even universal love. Everybody should wear this one! As with many stones, rose quartz is found in various parts of the world–Brazil, Madagascar, Scotland, South Dakota, Colorado and Maine, among others.

According to Greek myth, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, was pricked by a thorn bush while attempting to save Adonis from the attack of a wild boar. During the fight, their blood fell on some clear quartz, tinting it pale pink. Hence it became a gift of love on many levels.

Because of its relationship to love, Rose Quartz can have many benefits for the wearer. It is said to be effective in balancing emotions and healing broken hearts. It also helps with deep emotions such as grief, trauma and painful memories. It nurtures feelings of self- value and self-fulfillment. Rose Quartz is also the stone of love in marriage. This gem can attract true love and bring great benefits that pertain to love. Wear it when you are ready to share love–it can attract true love and bring fire into your relationship.

Physical benefits include benefits to the heart and circulatory system, so it is an excellent stone to wear as a necklace, near the heart. It is said to be very beneficial to the skin and help the wearer attain his or her ideal weight. Also, one’s brain is said to work well in the presence of quartz, making the thought process sharper and good decisions easier to make. Since love, ideal weight, heart health, and mending broken hearts are all desirable benefits, Rose Quartz may be the next gemstone you want to acquire. Here are some pieces….

Artists at Heart know How To put on a Party

What’s the most important thing about an Artists at Heart Party?  Artists at Heart Parties revolve around fun.  Whatever we can do to make your party memorable and fun for everyone is our goal.

Do I need any special equipment or set up?  All you need is a little space.  We’ll plan with you how we can best arrange the space for your particular activity.  We bring everything we need, and when the party is over, you’ll never know we were there.

Do I need any special clothing?  For pottery parties, we bring aprons for everyone and if any clay “gets away” it comes off with plain water.  For a jewelry party, any comfortable clothing is fine.  Remember to wear or bring along any outfit you would like to match with a piece of beautiful jewelry.  Also, let us know any colors you’d like us to feature.

Will I be able to take my creation home with me?  For pottery parties with air dry clay (younger children) each child receives a special bag to take home their party treasure.  For creations that need to be fired, Artists at Heart takes the pieces back for firing and returns them when they are finished.  For jewelry parties, under most circumstances, all pieces can be taken along home in a lovely gift bag.

What shall I serve at the party?  You can serve anything you please from cake and cookies to wine and cheese and anything in between.  If there’s anything you need that you’d like us to bring along, please ask and we’ll be happy to oblige.

What if I have fewer than the recommended number of people?  At Artists at Heart, we pride ourselves on being very flexible, and we will accommodate your group, no matter what size is may be.

Are there other ideas I can choose from besides pottery and jewelry?  Absolutely!  We can create any type of art party you may want to have.  Just let us know, and we’ll come up with some activities to fit your idea.

Is there anything special I should know about bridal jewelry parties?  Of course, we need to know your party’s colors so we have everything you need for that day.  In addition, it’s helpful to have a swatch or a dress there.   Remember that one of the great things about a bridal jewelry party is that you can include anyone you want.  Grandma, Aunt Louise and your Flower Girl might be thrilled and honored to a part of the fun.

What are your qualifications?  Patty is a certified art teacher, Mary is certified in English, speech and theater.  Virginia has her Bachelor’s degree in psychology.  All of us have FBI clearances.  All of us have extensive experience teaching and working with children and adults.

Amazonite–Another Amazing Gemstone of the Month

If you thought Sodalite was great last month, wait till you learn about all that Amazonite can do for you.  First, a little background, although it may have been named for the Amazon River because of its lovely blue-green color, Amazonite isn’t found anywhere near the river.  It comes mainly from the US, Madagascar, Russia and Australia.  It is a variety of feldspar, the most common type of rock forming mineral on Earth.

Amazonite was used by the Egyptians, and maybe named for the legendary warrior women of that name. And when you find out about all the properties of Amazonite, you may feel like one of those mythic wonders.

Perhaps because of its lovely color, Amazonite is said to have a calming effect on emotions and nerves.  It is a great stone for artists and writers because it is said to enhance creativity and expression.  It also improves analysis, intuition and self-confidence.  It is said to be helpful for those who need to let go of anger, or sadness.  Perhaps its calming color discourages the negatives in life and helps us show compassion to others.

Since it is said to have a positive effect on metabolism, it is great for anyone who wants to lose weight.   It is also a boon to women through conception, pregnancy and childbirth.  It’s even supposed to relieve cramps!

Amazonite can also help you make difficult decisions, such as which of these beautiful pieces of Amazonite jewelry shall I buy?

Kids and the Pottery Wheel

What activity at the Lehigh Valley Zoo last Friday had children and adults lining up, waiting for a chance to try their hand at something new?  It was the opportunity to have their first experience of throwing a pot, compliments of Artists at Heart of Whitehall.  More than 70 children and adults patiently waited their turn to try one of mankind’s oldest arts.  In turn, each one donned an apron and sat up on the stool. Soon they were in that smiling trance that comes with working with clay.

From earliest times, humans have worked with clay to produce useful as well as decorative items.  Children fashioned clay into copies of adult pieces, using them in play and as a form of expression.

Children today have the same need to create and imagine.  The ability to form clay into infinite shapes and pieces engages the mind and imagination of children; it fosters development of motor skills, as well.

Artists at Heart brings this wonderful experience to all ages.  In a world where most of the toys children play with are designed and created by adults, playing with clay offers a completely different way for children to imagine and create objects and toys completely of their own making.


Mary Szakmeister

twitter: @ArtistsatHeart