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Richard Mueller

 

“I was born in the seventh month of the XVI cycle, the year of the Iron Snake in the Tibetan Chronological Calendar on a Wednesday, which symbolizes the hand in the planet of Mercury. 

I got interested in beads while living in Nepal during the 1960's & 70's. Trekking in the Himalayas and seeing the ethnic beads worn by men, women and children of all types of stone materials and handmade glass, I learned the lore, superstitions and medicinal value attributed to the variety of stone beads from some of the ethnic Nepali groups, Tibetans, Indians and Chinese. 

My initial interest in natural stone beads was for trade value, and oftentimes travelling through remote Nepal it was the only currency I could pay with to take care of food and lodging.  I became a tradesman, mountainman, hand carpenter and building contractor for World Wildlife Federation and UNDP and a developer of passive solar designs working with my Tibetan speaking counterparts.

It wasn't until the late 1970's that I even understood the basics of lapidary arts or fine stone cutting, although I'd been collecting all sorts of beads and jewelry in the Himalaya's and the plains of India. In 1980, my wife and I moved to Zuni New Mexico. There I finally got to see and understand first-hand the wonderful work of the master Zuni lapidary artisans. Most of the lapidary and silversmithing was being done with turquoise, a stone I’d become very familiar with in Asia.

Travelling around the south-western U.S. opened my eyes to even more classic examples of stone cutting done with an infinite variety of stones and minerals of local origin as well as from around the world.

Although I love to look at fine silver and gold work, it has always been the fine antique beads that have caught my interest, and the master lapidary artists who have the patience to cut them. Gold and silver work is such a forgiving art form, but with natural stones and minerals the slightest mistake while grinding,drilling or buffing can be a major catastrophe. And somehow cutting circular beads seems the most realistic art form in trying to visualize our universe in all its facets while living in a world that is mostly built around squares and rectangles. 

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