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The Story of Treaty Oak–a little background from Polymer Clay Gemstones, The Art of Deception

I love history–especially the history of the places I live. More accurately, I love knowing the stories–and if they are actually based on history, well, so much the better; but give me a choice between cold facts and a good yarn, there’s no contest: I’m for the yarn.

And stories are like fractal spirals–they take off from tiny points in the composition, and expand and expand….a case in point: there’s a throwaway line in the narrative of “Polymer Clay Gemstones” where Peele mentions ‘The corner of Treaty Oak..”

Treaty Oak exists. It’s a real tree in downtown Austin that was once a member of a huge group of trees called the Council Oaks, a gathering place for Native Americans for hundreds of years. It was a mere sapling when Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa. By the time Pocahontas sailed for England, Galileo glimpsed the moons of Jupiter , and Milton wrote “Paradise Lost,” it was a venerable old tree in the wilds of the yet unexplored (by Europeans ) North American West.

When I first arrived in Austin, I paid a visit–everyone does–to the magnificent giant living in the heart of the city. It had in the early part of the 20th century been declared the most perfect specimen of Southern Live Oak in North America–and yes, it was a sight to behold:
treaty oak up to 1988
At an estimated age of over 500 years, its canopy stretched nearly 130 feet across–and the sense of majesty and age was palpable.
In 1989, city arborists became alarmed at the tree’s appearance–something was clearly wrong. An investigation revealed that the ground around the tree was saturated with a powerful herbicide, and Treaty Oak, the last of the Council Oaks, was dying. The city poured its heart and resources into saving it. Private and public citizens –remember Ross Perot?– donated vast sums to help; Dupont, the maker of the herbicide used in the attack, offered a $10,000 reward for the vandal. Shades were erected around it to protect it from the sun, earth was removed from its roots, sugar water was pumped in to help detoxify the soil…and tragically, dying limbs were cut from it to help save its life.
A protective fence was erected around the park it occupied, and soon they were solid walls of fluttering white, teddy bears and protective talismans–people from all over the world sent their prayers and get well wishes.
The herbicide that had been applied to the soil was soon traced back to a man named Paul Stedman Cullen, a ne’er do well and drug addict who bragged that he had killed Treaty Oak by way of casting a magic spell—his theory was that as the tree died, so would his unrequited love for a woman he admired.
He was sentenced to nine years in prison, and there reportedly was accorded the reception that his fellow inmates generally reserved for child molesters. He made parole a few years later, and his whereabouts are currently unknown. Good riddance.
Given the bleak outlook, the extreme pruning it was forced to endure, Treaty Oak’s death was forecast and mourned in national publications—but there is a reason for the phrase “tough as oak”.
After nine anxious years–ironically, the amount of time its would-be murderer would have served had he not been paroled–Treaty Oak , greatly diminished but still standing, produced its first crop of acorns, which were gathered up and sprouted for people around the world to plant scions of this once magnificent tree in their own yards. And if you come to Austin, you can still walk over to the corner of Baylor and Sixth street, and stand in its healing shade.
Life goes on.treaty oak today

New authors delighted

headshot for bookto be here on this lovely site. let the verbiage begin.

Available NOW: Polymer Clay Gemstones–The Art of Deception

Polymer Clay Gemstones—The Art of Deception
By Kim Schlinke and Randee M. Ketzel
ISBN 978-0-9800312-9-4

raj-brooch-tiger-claw-polymer-clay-webThis is not your ordinary how-to book! Austin TX based authors and polymer clay artists Kim Schlinke and Randee M. Ketzel artfully mix a clever mystery with 20 how-to projects that show step-by step photographs and instructions to create your own “ancient artifacts.” These polymer clay masterpieces are beautiful enough to grace a museum collection—or yours!

At 206 pages, this lavishly photographed book is stuffed with a multitude of projects that can be done just as presented with highly detailed step-by-step instruction, or used as starting points to make faux gems for use in all sorts of designs. Priced retail at $30, this hefty tome’s many how-to projects weigh in at the mere cost of $1.50 each. Many online tutorials are priced higher, without the added bonus of a story and a beautiful book.

Animal lovers will be pleased to note that our authors also give us the secrets of making replicas of ivory and tiger claw that involve no cruelty towards elephants or wild cats whatsoever.

Projects featured in this compendium include:
• Celtic Bronze Fibula
• Navajo Silver Pendant
• Art Nouveau Golden Gingko Brooch
• Carnelian Choker of Ancient Rome
• Amethyst Cabochons and Nugget Beads
• Amethyst Silver Art Nouveau Pendant
• Black Opal Cabochons, Barbarian Bracelet
• Chrysoprase Cabochons (A and B Grade), Hammered Cuff Bracelet
• Ancient Limestone Fossil Pebbles, Cycladic Goddess
• Leopardskin Jasper Primitive Pebble Bracelet
• Faux Twigs, Fantastical Forgeries Bracelet
• Blue Lace Agate Tile Bracelet
• Copper & Rhodochrosite Tiered Necklace
• Snowflake Jades Qin Dynasty Bangles
• Amber Caravan Necklace
• Primeval Coral Rock Hound Necklace
• Ammolite Cabochons, Gothic Revival Pendant
• Victorian Mourning Brooch
• Faux Tiger Claw Victorian Raj Brooch
• Faux Tiffany Glass Scarabs
• Faux Ivory Cuff Bracelet

Find out how it is all done—and “who done it”—along with our intrepid protagonists, Parker and Peele.

“What is this stuff?” wondered Parker, and her companion pointed her umbrella to the drawings that plastered the walls.

“The raw materials for the best forgeries ever seen” replied her friend. “This is where they were created.” Together they examined the drawings, exclaiming softly as they recognized several objects from the Museum.

Parker picked up one of the colorful lumps and frowned. “What is this, Peele? It’s soft like clay, but I’ve never seen these colors before.”

“No,” said her friend, “nor have I—at least in this form. I suspect it requires a catalyst of some type to render it into the false gems—ah, here!” Peele uncovered an array of electric ovens. “Heat—how charming. This must be some type of polymer, which, when brought to the proper temperature, then hardens. I have heard rumors. Could become just about anything, in skilled hands.”

Polymer Clay Gemstones--The art of Deception

Available Now–NIGHT!

a photo-novella
by Ricardo Acevedo

A decade of images cataloging the Night in all its adult twists & turns, realities & hallucinations…from Noir to Neon. The turbulent, furious, nights of the “zeros” (2000-2009) were a gilded age in some ways not so different from the previous century’s early days in its excesses and mix of hope and desperation.

The . . . → Read More: Available Now–NIGHT!

New Releases, Coming Right Up!

Polymer Clay Gemstones--The art of Deception

Its no accident that the two newest books from PolyMarket Press feature artistry from  Austin; a veritable hotbed of creative cool in the wild and woolly state of Texas. Maybe it’s the heat down there that grow’s em that way, but I have the pleasure of knowing some incredibly talented people that reside in the Lone . . . → Read More: New Releases, Coming Right Up!

This Year’s Crop

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Reconstructing the Past 2013 A Collective Memoir

Night: A Photo-Novella

Polymer Clay Gemstones: The Art of Deception

Shibori: From Textiles to Polymer Clay

Making Faces, Molds & Forms

A Deluxe Heirloom Paper Doll Collection

We’re tending . . . → Read More: This Year’s Crop

New Books Coming in 2013

Shibori: From Textiles to Polymer Clay

There’s lots of work going on right now behind the scenes at PolyMarket Press.

There are several new books underway, including  polymer clay books by authors Debbie Jackson, Randee Ketzel and Kim Schlinke, a photo-novella of the turbulent 1990′s by Ricardo Acevedo, and new books on paper dolls, and making dolls and miniatures by me.

Fasten your seatbelts; . . . → Read More: New Books Coming in 2013


Night--A photo novella by Ricardo Acevedo

A decade of images cataloging the Night in all its adult twists & turns, realities & hallucinations…. from Noir to Neon.

Set for release in May 2012, this book exposes and tells a whole ‘nother side to the American Dreamscape.

By Austin based photographer and author Ricardo Acevedo, look for this photo-novella to be  coming to Amazon and . . . → Read More: Night

Old Year, New Year–so many projects!

Ceramic Face, Metal Flowers necklace 1

2011 has been an exciting, busy, growthful year! A lot of projects and work came to completion in 2011 and lots more are now starting up or being actively continuing from the last few years. (Some projects take a while–there’s so much to be done!)

This year saw the release of interloper | fineart nudes and photopaintings . . . → Read More: Old Year, New Year–so many projects!

New Release ~ interloper

interloper | fineart nudes and photopaintings of Ricardo Acevedo

We are thrilled to announce that the new release from PolyMarket Press artist and author Ricardo Acevedo is now nearing its debut!

interloper | fineart nudes & photo-paintings by Ricardo Acevedo is a provocative feast for the eyes from cover to cover, with 116 pages that beautifully display more than 60 images in this luminous body of . . . → Read More: New Release ~ interloper