Several people have asked about the wood vases I have in the Gallery, generally because the turquoise inlay catches their eye. The ones I have are simply stunning. I acquired several of them from Clint Cross, a Native American artist living in Colorado. The Burtis Blue Mine, which is still running today producing beautiful natural turquoise in blues and greens with a soft brown matrix. Burtis Blue Turquoise comes from the oldest running family owned turquoise mine in the area around Cripple Creek, Colorado. All of the turquoise mined here is still dug by hand – the old fashioned way. This mine produces top quality gem grade turquoise. Clint carefully shapes his pieces and then inlays the tiny pieces of natural Burtis Blue turquoise that he has personally mined. The pieces are then given a hardening agent to keep them in the wood. They are increasingly finely sanded and sealed to achieve a smooth surface and preserve the natural hues of the woods and inlay.
These pieces are beautiful, but very labor intensive to create. In addition to the hours of work to make the wood host and dig the turquoise, each step of the process often involves hours or even days of waiting time until the next step can be undertaken. As with other artists, Clint’s creations become a labor of love, and his painstaking attention to detail and craftsmanship are evident when one sees or holds his work.
Turquoise inlaid wood pieces add the soul of the Southwest to any home décor. The natural movement and structure of the wood determines where to place the inlay chunks or large cabochons of turquoise. Many wood working artists use finely ground turquoise, which brings different shapes and hues of color to the bowls, vases, picture frames, or tables. Michael and I have seen dining room sets and bedroom sets done in this fashion, and we wistfully dream of having such pieces in our home.
Each piece of wood that has turquoise inlay is unique to the wood and to the spirit of the artist on the day the piece is created. “Let the wood lead the way. There is no right or wrong way to design and create turquoise inlay works of art. Just follow your heart and mind and you will come up with something completely unique and true to your artistic nature,” says Jimmy Cook, another inlay artist from Colorado.
No matter the shape or size, I dearly love wood inlaid with turquoise!