My Soil Obsession

Carrizozo, NM

Land around Carrizozo, NM

I can remember the moment my obsession with soil started: it was mining with my father when I was fifteen.

My father was a carpenter by trade. He could build anything. Many of my earliest memories of dad are him in his shop behind the house building and tinkering with the smells of sawdust and paints and stains in the air. Those smells still take me back to about 7 years old.

He went through a brief period where his obsession switched to finding gold. He quite his job to seek his fortune in the ground. I look back and realize what courage that took for him to leave all his safety behind in order to pursue a passion. I don’t know if I have that kind of courage like he did.

When I was fifteen I had the opportunity to accompany my dad to a mining site. Gold had been elusive, so he had switched to silver mining. We were at a potential silver mining site near Carrizozo, NM. My father was in the process of drilling several holes that would later be filled with dynamite so that the ground could be processed. The machine used to drill the holes always smelled of diesel and gave off a tremendous amount of heat that was coupled with the heat of southern New Mexico in the summer. The land was dry and barren with dirt and sagebrush all around. Far away mountains could be seen in the distance. I bought and listened to one cassette tape that whole trip. The album was Huey Lewis and the News: Sports. The tracks from that album still transport me right back to that time and place!

All day we would drill; the dirt in our eyes and nose, the enormous sounds of the machine in our ears, It seemed a blessing just to shut it all down for a moment and eat our lunch or take break with silence around us. My ears would continue to ring throughout our lunch breaks. My dad had a large, red insulted thermos that he would fill with ice and water. We would consume the water quickly in the hot mornings and then drink the melting ice throughout the afternoon. Sometimes we would buy Oreo cookies to eat as the day progressed. By the end of the day the cookies remaining would be covered with a thin coat of dust.

The land was beautiful. It was a privilege for me to be alone with my father at a time in my life when everything around me seemed so confusing. There was order in what we were doing and in the way that we were doing it. This order strongly contrasted with all the disorder that teenage life brings.

As the mining experience progressed and the soil began to be processed, I remember the care that was taken with the soil. The soil potentially held the fortune of my father and his business partners. The rocks were ground into powder and then processed with mercury to extract any precious metals that may be lurching inside.

in the end my father never made his fortune with silver or gold. The experience in his life ruined him financially. I found myself and a great fortune in the time a spent with him. He probably spent the entire time stressed because of financial expectations, but I found purpose and courage and strength.

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A personal favorite from my Etsy shop

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Welcome Michigan!


Michigan Key Chain

I am very excited that a good friend of mine from Michigan sent me soil. I first met Michael M. in Albuquerque, NM when I had just been married for a couple of years. (I have 25 years of marriage under my belt now.) He was newly married then as well. Now we are both older with kids going off into the world.

He was from Michigan originally, and always let us know that fact. Michigan became his mantra. My best goes out to him, his beautiful wife, and his kids. Thanks again Mike for the dirt!

A great way to make a connection with a place that is special to you is to have a little piece of that place with you. Carry it with you. Look at it, and remember those awesome memories. This key chain is a tip of my hat to all those who have a fond place in their heart for Michigan.

Welcome Michigan!

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Wonderful Beach Wedding

I received word from a couple that had purchased Messages in a Bottle as wedding invitations. They had their wedding on a California Beach in April. They sent me word that the wedding had been a hit, and that the guests all used the larger glass “Message” vials that they had received as invitations to collect sand from the beach where the wedding took place. It made me very happy that something I had created played a part, small as it was, in a memorable moment in the life of this couple.I wish them the best!

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Invited to an Artist’s Show

I have been invited to an artist’s show called Trend. The promoting company is RAWartists who do shows all over the world. I was scouted by the promoter of the show through my Etsy shop. The catch is that I have to sell 20 tickets by May 5th in order to participate. The tickets are available through my artist’s page at: Please make sure you buy tickets only through this site so that I can get credit for them. I would appreciate your support! I have never done anything like this before, so I am excited (and a little nervous). Here is a flyer for the event.

A Little Piece of Earth-RAW-Salt Lake City presents TREND

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South Africa and New Zealand

Dirt from South Africa and sand from New Zealand. These two soils side by side make me very happy. One reminds me of my oldest son’s adventures in South Africa, and the other reminds me of my middle son’s adventures in New Zealand. What a wonderful way to remember both places. I have never been to either place, but the dirt and the sand make me feel more connected regardless. Both of my sons have told me so many stories about both places. The soils give me something tangible to enjoy while I reflect on my sons experiences in both countries. Tangible objects are so powerful.


South African Soil and New Zealand Sand


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Great Fun Yesterday!

Great fun yesterday putting together a Four Corners Dirt Gift Pack for a customer. I did the majority of my growing up in New Mexico and now I live in Utah. I have been back and forth past the four corners area so many times in my life. It is a part of me. I thought that it was awesome that the customer for which I put the gift pack together is in New Mexico. I felt a connection while I crafted. It made me happy. I was running around and giving out high fives to my wife. (Luckily I have an awesome wife who doesn’t think I am completely crazy!) That is what it is all about.

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I love the wooden block with the four states in the four corners area stamped around its edges. It fits just right into the bottom of the bigger glass vial.It gives the four smaller vials of dirt from the four different states the perfect lift. This creation is one of my favorites so far. It was neat that someone else out there thought enough of it to buy it and give it as a gift!


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Sale in New Zealand!

I was excited to make a sale last night to a person in the great country of New Zealand. The furthest away I have sold anything to date was Canada. The buyer in New Zealand purchased a key chain made with beautiful white sand from Naples Beach in Florida. I love the look of this sand. The whiteness is contrasted with small flecks of black.

Well, I little piece of that wonderful white sand will be on its way to New Zealand to make someone there happy. Fantastic!


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Excited and Worried?

People have all types of obsessions. Some are deemed “normal”, while others are seen as strange. Is it strange to have an obsession with dirt and sand?

I found out the other night that I would be receiving dirt from Hawaii! Is it weird to get excited about getting a bag full of dirt in the mail? It probably is, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am excited. I have already ordered Hawaii charms to use for the Hawaii key chains that I will make for my Etsy shop.

(I suppose I could have stranger obsessions, and more dangerous ones.)

I love to create what I create! The monetary gain is a side note in my mind. The greatest rush comes when someone wants something that I have created. I suppose that there is an “acceptance” element in that feeling. Regardless, it is a good feeling. I gives me a very real surge of happiness and peace.

(An obsession with dirt and sand may be secondary to dirt and sand making someone happy and at peace!)


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Sonoma State Park, CA

Sonoma Coast State Park California

This sand brings back many wonderful memories of a trip to northern California with my family. The coast of Sonoma State Park is a collection of various sizes of interesting beaches. The particular beach from which this sand originates was only accessible down an extremely steep and narrow winding path down a cliff. The path had worn away in places forcing me and my kids to have to jump across or maneuver down the cliff face in places. The wind was blowing and it was bitterly cold even in July when we went. The ocean was a very dark gray/black. The sky was overcast that day.

When we finally reached the bottom, we found this neat little beach with the prettiest mixture of dark and light sands. Look at the richness of the colors in this small vial. I often just hold the vial in my hands and turn in over and over to see the colors: whites, grays, browns, blacks, etc. The sand and beach at the bottom were completely worth the rugged journey down the dangerous path.

This sample will always be a precious sample to me. What great memories!

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