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Scottsdale Vendor Spotlight: Tumblestone

My wife and I were driving through the Texas panhandle when she spotted her first tumbleweed tumbling down the middle of the road, "just drive over it”, I said, “people get in accidents when they try to miss them... it'll fall apart when you run the car over it." One mile later, on the side of the road, as I dug the surprisingly tenacious tumbleweed out from under the car, we decided on the spot that such a determined “weed” should have a place in our home.

After several years of spray paint and tinsel, Halloween ghosts, and Christmas ornaments, our mascot tumbleweed just fell apart into an eclectic display of dried sticks and stems in a beautiful array of colors, resting in the bottom of an old clay pot. The first thought in my artist’s brain was, “if I can get those bits and pieces to stick together, I can sculpt something unique.”

My beginning attempts to dye and press tumbleweed into a viable medium (stable and visually stimulating) for sculpturing firstly became a weekend hobby, then a part-time project, then a full-time obsession! The first try failed, so did the second and third, so did the 78th! With the needed equipment becoming more complex, supplies costlier, patience waning, my commitment often failed me, but I continued to come back to the “vision” of tumbleweeds resting in the bottom of that old clay pot.

Finally, in September of 2012, the very first “fossilized” tumbleweed brick was produced! The first cut into the brick revealed a stable and stunningly beautiful product. When I finally held the very first tumbleweed gem in my hand, with my wife and grandson gathered around, we knew something (never seen before) had just blinked into existence…. And that moment is truly the beginning of my family’s journey.

Mature tumbleweeds are gathered from the Arizona desert, debarked, and dyed vivid colors using plant ­based pigments. The dyed sticks and stems are heated and compressed for 30 days, producing a brick of "fossilized" tumbleweed. From the first cut to the finished piece, each handmade stone is unique in size, shape, color, and grain pattern. Appreciate the slight imperfections that naturally occur during the dying and pressing processes of this re-purposed southwestern icon.

Learn more about Tumblestone on their website at