Sunday, June 29, 2008


Recently, I was fortunate to visit the Stewart Lithia Mine in Pala, California with an academic group from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). As a current student at the GIA, this was a very exciting opportunity to visit a working mine not open to the public and to listen to Blue Sheppard (the mine owner) recount his discoveries!

Located in north San Diego County, the area is rich in pegmatite. A pegmatite is a coarse grained igneous rock (formed deep within the earth) having a grain size of 3cm or more and composed of granite and its constituents like quartz, feldspar and mica. The Stewart Lithia Mine was originally mined to extract lepidolite, as the lithium it contained (about 5%) was refined and used for ceramic glazes, to color flares, and for grease. Lepidolite ore is a beautiful conglomerate of lilac, lavender and pink and seemed pretty soft to me. Additionally, it contains bits of pink tourmaline crystals!

Tourmaline (Mohs 7.253) is harder than quartz and produces gorgeous gemstones when cut. It comes in a variety of colors including pink, green, blue, black, etc. Most of the pink tourmaline that was mined at the Stewart Mine went to the empress of the Ch'ing Dynasty Imperial Court and her entourage, who purchased everything they could get in order to have it exported to China. Gem quality natural pink tourmaline is five times as rare as gem diamond and more than ten times as valuable as gold in its pure form.

In the tunnels, Blue explained to the group how he learned to “read” the rocks and understand where to look for tourmalines. In addition to touring the underground tunnels of the mine and seeing the sites where some of the largest and most beautiful tourmalines were discovered we were allowed a few hours to search the ground and tailings around the mine. It was a beautiful day, having cleared up from the previous two days of hard rain. That rain definitely gave us an advantage by washing away some of the loose dirt and exposing the heavier minerals. I was able to pick up several fairly good size pieces of pink tourmaline that were laying right on top of the soil, and on careful examination of the walls of tailing piles I could see the crystalline shape that I was looking for and simply pull the tourmalines out. That's me in the center in a pale pink top.

I found several small pink, green, a pale blue, and even a bi-color. But, try to imagine my excitement when I saw the flat end of largest one (center in my photo) and kept pulling as this beautiful 26.7 carat dark pink tourmaline measuring 1" long x 1/2" wide x 3/8" thick emerged from the sandy soil!

I showed it to Blue and he held it up for the rest of the group to admire…and within minutes my little area was full of eager “miners” hoping to find something similar. A few visitors found beautiful tourmalines that day, and one person found a pretty kunzite.

I hope to find a cutter who will be able to carefully fashion the large one into a gemstone, but in the meantime I enjoy looking at this pretty collection every day.

It was a fabulous trip and I learned so much!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Publishing Industry Terms

Hi - I thought the following Terms might be helpful for those just getting interested in self-publishing their work - especially for our newly formed ABCs Etsy Street Team!

Publishing Industry Terms

BISAC Subject Codes
Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) Subject Codes are standard categories used by the book-selling industry to categorize books.

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique 10- or 13-digit number assigned to every book that identifies its binding, edition and publisher. ISBNs are obtained from R.R. Bowker, the US ISBN agency, or the International ISBN Agency.

Bleed is extra image or background that extends beyond the trim marks of a page. It should not include any "live" elements that cannot be cut during the final stages of the printing process. When an image is intended to be printed to the edge of a page, it should extend at least 1/8" off the edge so that when the page is trimmed, small variations in the trim won't result in a white line down the edge of the page.

A photo or image made up of varying tones of black and white. Images to be printed in black and white should be converted to grayscale prior to addition to the printed work.

Printing using a combination of inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, or CMYK) to achieve all possible varieties of visual color.

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) are the four printer colors used to create full-color prints. Combining each of these four colors in varying proportions allows you to create the full color spectrum.

Red, Green, Blue (RGB) is the color spectrum used by color monitor displays and TVs. The combination and intensities of these three colors can represent the whole color spectrum. Digital images captured in color from most scanners or taken with a digital camera are in RGB color mode. Images in RGB color mode should be converted to CMYK for the printing process as RGB doesn't include a true black.

Dots per Inch (DPI) is a measure of image resolution. The higher the number, the sharper the image. For the highest quality printing, you should include images of at least 300 DPI in your book.

Image Resolution
Image resolution refers to picture detail or the actual number of pixels that are packed into a digital image. Resolution is defined as the number of pixels per square inch (ppi) or as the number of dots per square inch (dpi). For all practical purposes in discussing resolution, pixels and dots are essentially interchangeable.

Trim Size
The size of your final book after it is printed, bound and trimmed. Trim sizes are always indicated as width in inches by height in inches. For example, a trim size of 6"x9" means the printed book will be 6 inches wide and 9 inches tall.

Trade Paperback
Refers to a paperback book bound with a heavy paper cover.