Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sustainability in Art: From Find to Finish, Collecting, Cutting and Drilling an Agate Tube Bead

Wanaree and I are both fascinated with various types of ancient beads from around the world. We collaborated on this beautiful agate tube bead inspired by Meso-American and Mesopotamian stone work.

We always look forward to the spring flooding of our beloved creek at the Sustainable Stones Studio, anticipating the treasures to be uncovered. Here is a selection of rough agates recently discovered, we chose the one on the right for this project.

Numerous creeks in West Central Illinois are glacial till laden, revealing a variety of semi-precious stones.

This agate specimen caught my eye immediately.

Agate is a fine grain variegated chalcedony (transluscent quartz) having colors arranged in stripes, bands or blended cloud forms.

We decided to make a traditional tube bead from this rough form.

One of the problems with cutting stones from the rough are their irregularities. In the case of this stone there were several large indentations and deep pits that had to be worked around.

I always cut freehand, it gives me a better feel for the stone.

Even though I'm always aware that I'm using a modern lapidary machine, I prefer the work to look ancient.

Drilling a stone bead takes finesse, you want to make sure the stone is stable and use a good lubricant.

Drilling a large hole in any stone takes patience and time, as stone work can never be rushed.

We wanted the original spirit of the stone to shine through, paying tribute to it's natural form.

-Steve Tieken


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sustainability in Art: Temple of the Toad

All living creatures have an inherent right to exist.

 Human beings must become stewards and not lords over the Earth.

-Steve Tieken


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sustainability in Art: Touching the Stone Age Past

Spring and summer rains constantly rearrange the local creeks revealing to the trained eye, 

Sustainable Stones and occasionally, ancient artifacts.

Heavy rains cut into banks leaving behind deposits of
earth and stone

Because ancient man utilized local flint sources for tool
making, we look out for recently exposed flint pieces

This one caught my eye

As I began to expose it, it appeared to be a broken spear point

I gently moved the loose stone away 

Brushing off the sand, it became evident that this was an intact artifact 
Being the first person to touch an object in thousands
of years is an exhilarating and humbling experience

It's hard to believe that something so old could
remain intact in these continually shifting sand bars

This piece is most likely a knife blade
It is made from Burlington chert

Note the beveling and serration on this ancient blade

I always consider these finds gifts from the
ancient artists that created them

Archaeologists date stone tools based on knapping techniques
and materials

This specimen dates to the early Archaic Period
Between 8,000-10,000 years old.

-Steve Tieken

tanner/tieken © 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sustainability in Art: From Find to Finish, Collecting and Cutting Petrified Ice Age Animal Bone

Spring rains provide new opportunities for unique rock discoveries. 

Recently exposed rock bar

Petrified Ice Age Animal Bone is extremely rare in West Central Illinois.
A small fragment from an ancient unknown species.

Beautifully patinated outer surface of Petrified Bone fragment

Side view with exposed petrified marrow cavity.

It's difficult to determine the age of bone without c14 carbon dating
and identifying the species type is impossible due to it's size.
Patinated bone outer surface.

Achieving a clean cut and polish can sometimes be difficult due to the porous nature of the marrow cavity.

Putting the Cab King through it's paces

I wanted the finished piece to look ancient, paying tribute to the prehistoric people
who lived here on the landscape thousands of years ago.
I chose the traditional tube shape to show off the beautiful grain and patination. 

Reverse side.

-Steve Tieken


Monday, February 16, 2015

Sustainability in Art: Coyote Medicine 2

During our searches for Sustainable Stones we often cross paths with other residents on the landscape, one of which is the coyote. This is a recording of a late night coyote and drum jam in the great outdoors. 


- Steve Tieken

2015 © tanner/tieken

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sustainability in Art: Nature is a Sanctuary

Immersed in nature, a deep understanding of oneself is revealed.

-Steve Tieken


Friday, January 30, 2015

Sustainability in Art: In the Footsteps of the Ancestors

We all walk in the footsteps of our ancestors

What paths will we leave for future generations to follow?

-Steve Tieken

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sustainability in Art: Earth is a Temple

We are all fellow inhabitants of Planet Earth

The Arbor

This 22 foot tall pole pine construction is one of several large installments created on the landscape where we live.

-Steve Tieken
2015 © tanner/tieken

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sustainability in Art: Sticks, Stones and String; Creating with Simple Materials

Mankind's Earliest Art Forms Were Created as Sacred Offerings

Primitive Whitetail Deer Effigy by Steve Tieken

Materials used in construction:
prairie cane cuttings, stone adornment (Sustainable Stones fashioned using a file and sandpaper)
100% cotton string with hand collected and prepared natural dyes (walnut, red ochre, polk-berry)
medicine bundle (red felt and tobacco)

Whitetail Deer Effigy left as sacred offering

Small herd of deer grazing outside our backdoor at sunset.

If you're interested in learning more about the life of Whitetail Deer, you can view the

-Steve Tieken

copyright © 2015 Tanner/Tieken

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sustainability in Art: Born of the Earth, Creating with Natural Clay and Pigments

From the Earth we were Fashioned
To the Earth we will Return

Due to it's rich clay deposits, West Central Illinois has a long history of ceramic production dating back over three thousand years. The first pottery to appear in the archaeological record was created by the Early Woodland Marion culture around 1,000 BCE.

Naturally exposed laminated clay deposits

Processed clay from above deposit with hand collected
yellow ochre (limonite) and red ochre (hematite) paint pigments

Ceramic Ceremonial Tripod Vessel with Decorated Ceramic Marble Offerings
by Steve Tieken and Wanaree Tanner
Formed with clay collected from above source with hand prepared mineral pigments

"Cosmic Fire Serpent" by Steve Tieken
Ceramic bead necklace created using clay from above source with natural mineral pigments
-Steve Tieken

2015 © tanner/tieken

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sustainability in Art: Lapidary Artistry, "Do you know where your stones come from?"

It is our responsibility to educate ourselves about the environmental impact our creations have on planet Earth. It is time to awaken and take stock of the materials we acquire and implement in our constructions, striving for sustainability whenever and wherever possible.

Over the last seventy-five thousand years, several major glacial epochs have occurred. Scattering tons of rocks across the landscape of West Central Illinois. 

Here are examples of naturally exposed glacial till stratifications and eroded rock sandbars.

Hand collecting stones individually leaves virtually no impact on the ecosystem. 

At Sustainable Stones, we are personally involved in each aspect of the lapidary process. 

Rough then finished petrified wood hand collected and cut by Steve Tieken.

-Steve Tieken

2014 © tanner/tieken