I am a stone carver. I came to the game late and have quickly been captivated by the medium we use. It is self-evident that people ‘like what they like’ and I have no intention to question individual likes or ‘tastes’ BUT what follows is simply to illustrate what an amazing variety of colours, textures, patterns there are available to us.
It is also pretty evident that most visitors to Aotearoa-New Zealand equate jade souvenirs with nephrite jade, that gorgeous, translucent, deep green stone that Maori call ‘pounamu’ (greenstone) . Many prefer the ‘plain’ stone without any patterns or variation in colour (although of course there are many varieties of nephrite, not all being clean and green) and are prepared to pay very good money for souvenirs made from it. Their choice, of course and who am I to argue? I imagine this will remain the case but I (and many others) enjoy working in other stone as well.
It is also the case nowadays that all pounamu is not nephrite and many of the stones that I have shown here fall into the generic category of ‘pounamu’ so don’t believe artists or tradespeople are trying to pull the wool over your eyes by labeling something ‘pounamu’! (They are probably not likely to do so as widely as they might.)
Anyway have a browse and see what lovely variety there is in stone. What you see here includes the ‘traditional’ pounamu but also other varieties than the ‘clean green’ such as kokopu (named for the similarity to the native trout skin colouring), inanga (named for the colouring of the whitebait fish), flower nephrite (with rich pale veins flowing through it), cloudy Marsden jade (named for the area it comes from), Australian black jade (not New Zealand and not true jade), some tangiwais (a nice bowenite stone that has translucence when thin enough), serpentines (a non-jade stone that is similar in mineral makeup and would have become jade had it been further heated and compressed), and a variety of non-jade stones that I like for the colours and patterns that they present such as quartz, obsidian, greywacke and argilite.
It may well be that I will have some of these creations for some time to come but the hope is that if enough of us make enough of these and enough of you see them and enough of you buy them we may see a bit of a shift in the perception of those who buy stone adornments- the other stones ARE lovely and the pieces that we make from them ARE made with the same care and attention as the ‘traditional’ jade creations.
None of this is to say or suggest that traditional ‘pounamu’ is not the ultimate beauty in Aotearoa-New Zealand stones- it is and will always be and it fully deserves the mana and mystique it has, and we will continue making beautiful things from it.