Craftsman of the Month
Cover of Rock&Gem V1N1 March-April 1971

Peter M. Downie - November 1999 - Peacock

The Craftsman of the Month for November is Peter M. Downie of Vancouver, Washington. He finds special pieces of wood and stone in natural earth tones that remind him of some animal or nature scene, then combines and embellishes them to bring out their hidden qualities. The result is the animal or scene from his mind's eye, come to life for everyone to enjoy.

Pictured here is Peter's "Peacock" project. He has also done many others, including a floral motif with petals of Brazilian agate and leaves of ground malachite and aventurine; seals out of redwood burls decorated with Brazilian agate and jasper; a piece called "The Fishes" out of a myrtlewood burl decorated with Brazilian agate and jasper; and a mountain lake scene on a black walnut burl decorated with Brazilian agate, turquoise, marble, malachite, aventurine and picture rock.

Here is how he created his peacock: "I chose a slice of black walnut burl that suggested a peacock to me, and then cut out a small section, allowing placement of a flashlight-type light bulb behind it. This let me backlight the dyed Brazilian agate 'eyes' in the peacock's fanned-out tail to enhance the color and beauty of the stones. A battery pack and switch were then mounted on the back to supply power to the bulb. (As an alternative, an AC adapter could be used as a power source.)

"Then the agate was epoxied into place. The feathers and neck were 'painted' on using bits of paua shells that had been crushed and sorted for size. I used one piece of agate for the peacock's head.

"The basic form was painted with epoxy and then the crushed rock was sprinkled on top. After the epoxy had cured, I removed the excess stone. This process was repeated as I added each kind and mesh size of rock in a separate step.

"As far as I know, this art form is unique. I was inspired and mentored by a local artist, Dale Pahlman, who utilizes exotic pieces of wood and embellishes them by wood burning and painting. Being a rockhound myself, I decided to create my own art on wood, using semiprecious stones."

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