Quartz crystal from Arkansas


Having had an interest in crystals and minerals for many years (more than I care to remember!) you can imagine it was a thrill to visit the state of Arkansas during a trip to the USA.  Arkansas is a beautiful state – almost in the centre of country.  Our journey took us across different landscapes, desert, prairie, plains, to the forests of Arkansas.


Acres upon acres of forests, mountains and lakes make Arkansas a picturesque state.  As well as quartz mining, Arkansas is known for hunting and fishing, timber production and, in the southern region of the state, plantations.


I could fill pages with descriptions of the scenery, places to visit, lifestyle of the inhabitants of some of the towns and cities, as this blog is called ‘Crystal Clear’, I’ll restrict myself to writing at this point about the quartz from Arkansas.  The following paragraphs will, I hope, give you an insight into the history and traditions of quartz from Arkansas.

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Quartz crystal is probably the crystal most people are aware of.  Quartz (SiO2) is composed of silicon and oxygen and is common throughout the world, although most of it is not crystallised. Crystallisation occurs when the silicon dioxide or silica is heated. T he source of the heat can be extremely hot water from underground sources, which fills open fissures to create filled quartz veins.  In Arkansas, this reaction is estimated to have occurred during the last part of the formation of the Ouachita Mountains, about 280 to 245 million years ago.  During the cooling, the silicon and the oxygen recombined as molecules formed by one silicon atom and four oxygen atoms.  The crystals have six sides or prism faces because of their molecular structure. Quartz is rated seven on the Mohs hardness scale; diamonds are rated ten.  Some quartz exists in sand form.

Arkansas is one of a small number of places in the world with enough quartz crystals to justify commercial mining. Though the amount of unmined quartz in the state is not yet known, Arkansas does have, in terms of both size and quality, some world-class deposits of quartz. Quartz is a common mineral that becomes crystallised under extreme geologic pressure. These crystals have been used to make oscillators for radios, computer chips, and clocks. In 1967, the General Assembly adopted the quartz crystal as the Arkansas State Mineral.

The existence of quartz crystal in the Ouachita Mountains has been known since humans first occupied the area.  In the 16th Century, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto led an expedition deep into the continent we now know as the United States and found that native Americans had chipped projectile points from quartz crystals.  De Soto died at the age of 46 in Arkansas.  In 1819, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, naturalist and explorer wrote, ‘One of the most noted localities of this mineral west of the Mississippi River is the Hot Springs of Ouachita in Arkansas.  At this place numerous pieces of quartz have been found, very pure and transparent, and beautifully crystallized…”  Crystal mining in Arkansas was well established by the late 19th century.

The ancient Ouachita Mountain area of Arkansas was considered a mystical location by Native American tribes. The hot springs in the “Valley of the Vapors,” now the city of Hot Springs, was considered a place of peace for even warring Indian tribes. The beautiful Arkansas quartz crystals of the Ouachitas were believed by the Indians to have sacred and spiritual significance.


Few restrictions or legal problems hindered the early miners, even though most crystal deposits were on land owned by either the Federal Government or private timber companies.  The general rule was that as long as timber was left undamaged and openings did not become pitfalls for livestock, the miner was free to dig where he dropped his pick and “scratcher” (an iron rod, commonly 1 to 2 feet in length and bent at a right angle several inches from the point, used to scratch out loose crystals).  During World War II the high demand for quality quartz crystals for use in oscillators for radio and communication equipment resulted in a rapid expansion of prospecting and mining.  With Federal agencies and private mining companies participating, mining rights received more careful scrutiny and free-for-all operations dwindled.  A buying station at Hot Springs was established in June of 1943. About 75 percent of the oscillator quartz mined in the district during this year, amounting to more than 4,000 pounds, was tested at this station.

During the 1950’s, techniques were developed by General Electric company for growing quartz artificially and the demand for Arkansas quartz was mostly limited to the expanding tourist and museum markets.

Some crystals were cut and faceted and used for jewellery – known as ‘Hot Springs diamonds’.

Quartz crystals are also valued for their beauty as mineral specimens and gemstones.  With the increased demand by tourists, collectors and museums, the price for quartz crystals has risen in recent years, and some exquisitely developed quartz clusters are reportedly highly valued.

If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading this blog.  You now know a little more about the quartz crystals from Arkansas.

Lizzy Clark


A Clean Sheet

A Clean Sheet

Its the first day of the second month of a new year.  Did you make any resolutions on the last day of the last month of the last year?  New Year Resolutions – made with good intentions, how many have you kept?  Did you promise yourself or others that the new year would be a clean sheet – put aside the past and start the new year afresh…

I should think we’ve all made promises to ourselves – I will get fit – join the gym and spend ££s per month to lose lbs – sounds a good idea at the time, but in the cold light of day its often hard to maintain – dark morning, dark evenings make it uninviting to venture out at this time of year.  Don’t worry, you’ve got the rest of the year to ‘catch up’ with the resolutions / promises.  In a few weeks we’ll be changing the clocks and welcoming waking in daylight, and more daylight hours to work / rest / play.

You can start each day with a clean sheet – when you close your eyes each night and submit to slumber, the day’s events / problems / worries disappear – you can choose to resurrect them on waking, or you can choose to start afresh with each new dawn.

Each new day brings with it new possibilities, new potentials – its up to you to make the most of them if you choose.



Today was a day of leisure – no alarm call to wake to, no rush to leave the house.  Time for an extra coffee, time to cook a satisfying ‘brunch’.  No rain, no snow.  No rush hour traffic to drive through, and once parked, a walk through the city to Nottingham Contemporary.

Exhibits to browse, films to view, soundbites to listen to … a well put together exhibition with a powerful message.  Social media and gossip on buses is awash with conversations and comments about so called ‘reality TV programmes’ with pseudo celebs in non reality pseudo settings … a film at the exhibition should, in my opinion, be compulsory viewing by all – shown in schools, broadcast on all tv stations… it was the true reality of what man is doing to the planet… the indigenous peoples of the Amazonian rain forests are fighting for the right to remain in their unspoiled communities – whilst the multi billion dollar multi nationals fight for what actually already belongs to the people who live there … when did China, Canada, USA etc have the right to ‘own’ and ‘control’ a part of the world thousands of miles from their nations?  to rape the land of natural resources for billions of dollars of profit for their shareholders and fat cat director?  The people who inhabit the amazonian rain forests are the wealthy ones – do they measure their wealth in $s, in material possessions?  no, they consider themselves wealthy as they have all that they could ever need – clean air, clean water, natural medicines and simple food, family and community.  What a powerful film.  The images and words will remain with me for a long time.

And tomorrow?

who knows?  a new day – a clean sheet


Liz Clark

The Same But Different


‘The Same But Different’

Lets look at ‘Amethyst’

Amethyst is a member of the quartz family of crystals.  Its colour – a purple hue that ranges from the deepest royal purple to the palest of lavender shades – is mainly due to the iron it contains within the crystal.  Amethyst was formed mainly by gas bubbles in volcanic rock.  The name ‘amethyst’ is derived from Greece and means ‘non inebriated’ (amethysts).  Its sober, clearing effect was already known in antiquity, and the crystal was highly prized.  Legend has it that Romans used to place a piece of amethyst in their drinking goblets to avoid the ‘hangover’ effects of over indulging!   Moving forward to the Middle Ages amethyst was described by Konrad von Megenberg as something that ‘makes a person better, disperses bad thoughts, brings good commonsense and makes one mild and gentle’.   Hildegarde von Bingen, and abess from the 12 Century wrote many books including one about crystals and their healing effects – she has written how to make ‘amethyst water’ by steaming a piece of amethyst over a cauldron, and using the amethyst water for skin diseases and swellings and bruising.   It is also known that their was a tradition in Arab countries to place a piece of amethyst under the pillow to prevent nightmares…
So we have a crystal formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, and which has through the ages had traditions and properties attributed to it, many of which we still follow today.
Amethyst can be found in many locations around the world, and here we have examples of amethyst from Brazil, India and Uruguay.   The amazing thing is that no matter where in the world amethyst is found, the crystal structure and content are the same – amethyst is always a form of quartz containing six other minerals.  The chemical formula for amethyst is always SiO2 + (Al, Fe, Ca, Mg, Li, Na)


Looking at these amethyst pieces made me think – yes it’s all the same but different, in the same way that we, as humans, are all the same but different.

I try to strive not to be the same as the ‘rest’ and instead to celebrate the fact that I am the same yet unique!   I shall continue to enjoy every moment of being ‘me’ – and like you too, I am the same but different!

What’s around the corner?


So many of us wander through our daily routines, not knowing what is ‘around the corner’ – we stumble through each day, blind to what is going on around us.

Many are so wrapped up in their work, their day, and rather than look around and enjoy what is ‘here and now’ – just concentrate on those two weeks or ten days in so many months time when they will join the masses and ‘get away from it all’ – they call it a holiday.   It could be considered a ‘hell – iday’ – struggling to save the money, or putting it on credit cards then worrying about how to pay it all off – thinking ‘I’ll be happy when I’m away from it all’ – but if you’re not happy in your day to day life, how can you be happy away from it?  Worrying about how you’re going to pay for your two weeks of ‘freedom’ …

And does this mean that the other 50 weeks of the year have no consequence, that only those two weeks are the days that matter?   No I don’t think so.   I think every day matters, every moment of every day.   You can enjoy every day.   Do you take the bus or tram or train to work?  Enjoy the ride, sit back and allow someone else to battle through the traffic, you can sit back and watch the world go by, or listen to your tunes, or read your book… what a refreshing way to start the day!  Do you have a lunch break?  Enjoy eating your packed lunch, or your bought lunch – take the time to sit and watch the world outside your window, or watch the passers by – where are they going?  What’s on their mind?  If the weather allows it, you may be able to eat your lunch outside, or go for a walk at lunchtime, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, look at the sky, can you see any trees? Or flowers? Or birds?  Enjoy a few moments with nature, reflect upon the seasons.  Enjoy and appreciate the fact that you can look at the sky and the birds!  On your journey home, don’t worry about what’s happened in the office/workplace, leave your work issues at work, you’re on your way home, to your sanctuary, to an evening meal, time to relax and unwind – whether to listen to music, read a book, share a meal with someone, eat your meal on your own with your own thoughts – enjoy and appreciate your home, your family, your friends…

When you have a day or an afternoon off – off work, or just time to your self, do you spend the time on the computer?  Watching TV?  Do you get out and about, walking around your local area, venture to your park, nature reserve, woodland?

There is much to enjoy about each and every day – turn every day into a holiday!   You don’t have to travel very far to explore!

I love to go for walks, I spend many hours inside so when I have the opportunity to go for a walk, I’ll go!  It may be a drive then a walk around somewhere newly discovered, a village, or nearby town.  When time permits its a drive to the coast and a walk on the beach, but if I just have a short time to go for a walk, there are plenty of places nearby that I can explore – and each season brings different views and sights.

Today I walked around a lake, saw geese and ducks, took photographs of buildings and trees and on the way through the town on the way home saw three ‘blue plaques’ – telling of people who have lived here – fascinating facts about each of these… intriguing!  Maybe I’ll find out some more information about these men featured on the blue plaques – I can appreciate even more then their stories, their time living in the same place as me.

Take a moment to think about your life, take a moment to think about how you can enjoy each moment of each day.  We may not be remembered with ‘blue plaques’ but it would be great to be remembered as someone who loved life and enjoyed each moment of their time on this earth.


Incense – an introduction


The term ‘incense’ originates from the latin term ‘incendere’ meaning ‘to burn’.  Incese is made from aromatic materials which release fragrant smoke when burned.  Incense is used in many ways – for religious ceremonies, ritual purification, aromatherapy, meditation, for creating a spiritual atmosphere and for masking unpleasant odors.

There are two main types of incense – ‘direct burning’ and ‘indirect burning’.  Lets look at these types:

Direct burning incense (also known as combustable incense) is lit directly by a flame, then blown out to leave a glowing ember that smoulders and releases the fragrance.  Direct burning incense can be in the form of incense sticks (or ‘joss sticks’), cones and pyramids.

Indirect burning incense is not capable of burning on its own and needs a separate heat source – usually charcoal.

The history of incense and its uses can be traced way back in time.  For instance certain Chinese cultures dating back to neolithic times have used incense and it is with the ancient Chinese where we find the earliest documented use of incense composed of herbs and plant materials in ceremonial rituals.   The Hindus adopted the use of incense from the Chinese.  Ancient Egyptians used incense both to cover odours and also for mystical uses as they believed the smoke from incense deterred malevolent beings and would appease their gods with its pleasant aroma.  Indeed resin balls were found in prehistoric Egyptian tombs in El Mahasna.  Some of the oldest references of incense can be found in the ancient Hindu texts – the Vedas, indicating that the use of incense dates back at least 3500 years and more likely closer to 6000 – 8500 years old!

Moving on in time Ancient China appears to be the first civilization who began the use of incense in religious worship around 2000BC.  The Babylonians used incense while offering prayers and incense spread from here to Greece and Rome.

Incense was brought to Japan in the 6th century by Korean Buddhist monks.  They used the mystical aromas in their purification rituals.  The high quality Japanese incense known as Koh was very widely used and 200 years later its use had spread from the monks to the Imperial Court.

So we can see that incense as we know it has a rich and varied history – today we can enjoy incense in its many forms with ease within our own homes and environments.

You may be familiar with the term ‘smudge stick’ – this refers to either a single herb or a combination of herbs, dried and bound with string in a small bundle.  Many cultures have their own traditions of which herbs were used in such smudge sticks with the traditional herbs such as Mugwort and Lavender being particularly popular.

Many different materials are used in the make up of direct and indirect burning incense – these can include:

Woods and barks – aloeswood, cedar, cinnamon, cypress, juniper, sandalwood
Seeds and fruits – cardamon, coriander, juniper, nutmeg, star anise, vanilla
Resins and gums – amber, camphor, copal, dragon’s blood (a plant resin), frankincense, myrrh
Leaves – balsam, bay, patchouli, sage, tea
Flowers – cloves, lavender, saffron, rose

So you can imagine the variety of fragrances that can be blended by the use of different materials.

At Lizian we’re pleased to stock a wide range of incense – both indirect and direct burning – indian sticks, japanese koh incense sticks, cones, resins, and essential oils for your home fragrance needs.  So next time you reach for the incense to light for whatever reason, to mask cooking smells, to create the mood for meditation take a moment to think about the tradition of incense burning and how it has evolved to what we know today.