Since 1993, Deborah has been offering jade carving workshops at her home based studio, in Vernon, British Columbia. Usually there are only one or 2 participants at a time. Both small and medium scale projects are taken on, with 99% of them completed by the end of each session.

So what's new.....?

In the fall of 2008, Deborah invited Donn Salt to demonstrate his small scale carving skills in her studio, and rounded up 4 eager participants for this unique opportunity. Donn is a world renowned jade artist from New Zealand, who has recently become part of the North American jade family.

For those who are just becoming acquainted to jade and to Donn's work in paticular, his website will take you on a magical tour of his exquisite works of art. Click here for more of Donn's work.

After the Vernon workshop, the next destination was due south, to Big Sur, California. The 17th annual Jade Festival was held on October 10, 11, & 12. Both Donn and Deborah showed their pieces at this event with Jade Haven Galleries. Following that, the 2nd annual workshop at the California School of Jade Carving was scheduled to begin on October 20th, for 6 days. This was hosted once again by Mike Burkleo, who provided the space, equipment and passion for learning the techniques involved in carving jade. Nine students in all enjoyed an intensive 6 day session with Donn and Deborah, who shared their expertise with small and medium scale approaches to working jade.

There is a great number of people associated with jade and the arts, that are very interested in learning these skills. Next October's workshop is tentatively booked, and the waiting list is getting longer!

The Renaissance is well on its way!

A jade classic by Bill Koochin carved from Ogden Jade in Canada. Deborah requested that Bill bring the piece along with him to show the others in the Vernon workshop. Bill was Deborah's sculpture instructor at the Vancouver Scholool of Art (1969 - 1973)

Kenny Comello carved this pendant out of his own California Blue Jade. He was one of nine participants at the California jade workshop.

Chris Poelma's Cassiar Jade bowl

Master jade carver Donn Salt from New Zealand demonstrating handsanding

A collection of finished jade sculptures, pendants and bangles . These were carved by some of the participants of the Californis jade workshop. Donn and Deborah's pieces are featured here as well.

This year's attendees at Mike Burkleo's 2nd annual jade workshop, in Fairfield California.



Time is running out – The last Fabergé type green Siberian jade boulder?

The workshops of Carl Farbegé in St. Petersburg, located in the Greater Morskoy Avenue, did produce, from 1870 until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918, numerous objets d’art in beautiful emerald green Siberian jade.


Eternal Calendar in green nephrite with diamonds, pearls and enamel manufactured, before 1899, in the Fabergé workshops under the supervision of Michael Perchin.


The Faberge workshops in St.Peterburg during the last years before the Revolution


The green nephrite jade came from the Sayan Mountains about 150Km east of Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal in what is now the Autonomous Republic of Buratia in Russia.

The Sayan Mountain area with the Bortogol site

The area is still mined today although the best material becomes very rare indeed. Looking for suppliers of Russian white Vitim jade I came across the company Minerasia S.pA. in Treviglio (near Milano/Italy – ). Its owner, Mr. Claudio Cerasi, did inform me that beside the material I was looking for, he had also an exceptional boulder, weighting 1163Kg, of the beautiful emerald green jade which Fabergè was using for his most precious carvings and jewelry works.


The top grade "Fabergé" green jade from Bortogol

The material comes from the now exhausted Bortogol River mine in the Sayan’s and is available for inspection and purchase in Italy. He would like to sell the huge piece as a single lot with an asking price of about 100 EURO per Kg.



The "last"  Fabergé green Bortogol  jade boulder?


 This is indeed a steep price but this green jade is the last of its kind and really beautiful and linked directly to the Fabergé objects d’art. I hope that his marketing plans are successful and he will find a jade lover willing to take up the entire boulder.


Next to the Bortogol boulder Mr. Cerasi has also two further green jade boulders (about 1000 and 2000Kg) from the nearby Gorlykgol River mine. This very compact material is slightly darker and has a more subdued green color. Similar material was also utilized in the St.Petersburg workshops.   
The Gorlykgol green jade boulders


For those which appreciate white nephrite jade, Mr. Cerasi sells also diverse pieces from the Vitim area with one cut-in-two river boulder showing the typical “Khotan/Yurungkash” reddish skin so much sought after by the Chinese jade carvers.


I include the pictures of these jade roughs for your enjoyment and, in the case that you need such special material for your carving projects, ask you to contact Mr. Cerasi directly. The material is already in Italy and thus not submitted to the uncertain Russian export regulations.    
The white nephrite river jade from the Vitim area with the russet skin




Jade carving in Suzhou, China

Suzhou, also called the Venice of the East because of its picturesque canals or City of the Gardens, is town with about 700.000 inhabitants one hour driving west of Shanghai.


Since ancient times, Suzhou is also one of the centers of fine jade carving and, during a recent stay in China, I managed a short visit there.



Jade carving is carried out as a cottage industry in the south-eastern part of the old town (Suzhou 1) along the numerous small roads off the Xiang Wang Lu.





A carver's workplace

A typical jade carving shop consists typically in a 4x4m room in which three to four carvers work and many times also cook, eat and sleep. When you stroll along the Xian Wang back alleys you can see numerous Chinese signs of jade painted hastily on the walls indicating that behind a door or courtyard such jade carving is carried out. You are welcome to wander in, observe their work and enquire about carvings available and their always too high prices.


Please inspect my ware!

These carvings are mostly of small size consisting in pendants and small animals made from good quality Xinjiang white jade. The carving is done on standardized horizontal spindle workstation of Chinese manufacture (about 500 US$ per unit) by the local artist.

Typical Suzhou small white jade carvings

In a division of labor, the final and less creative step, the polishing of the carving, is done by specialized workshops which I have not been able to locate/see. The working conditions are not the best especially what concerns the cramped quarters and the poor lighting which strains the eyes of the artist. Although very fine details are carved, no magnifying glasses or loupes are used.


Belt buckle in watery green Geermu white jade with Taotie mask design

Unfinished pendant in cloudy green Xinjiang Jade

  Pendants in white and dark green-to-black Khotan jade


A more up-scale jade shop in the Xiang Wang Lu quarter

Available jade mountain scenes in a pale green-white Khotan jade

Lone pine and sage mountain scene in pale green-to-white Khotan jade

Next to these small jade carving shops also larger facilities are located in and around Suzhou but they turn out more the standard "tourist" ware and less this "artisan jade" with all its individualities and styles.

More up-scale jade selling is ocurring near the center of old Suzhou in a building on the Quan Qian street just off the main pedestrian street. 


 Da Chen Fong gate at the entrance of the Quan Qian road (at Suzhou 2 on Google Earth picture) 

Entrance to the jade shops building
  No need to hurry - the prices are going only one direction - up!

Some very nice carvings are available as also a good-to-excellent but terribly expensive selection of Khotan Yurungkash River white jade pebbles and boulders.

   Discussing how to get the most out of a Khotan white jade river pebble


A veritable black Karakash River jade pendant (left) and a deep green one with gold line decoration

A small cup carved from a white jade pebble with a thick red skin

 So if you are close by and have a ton of money, visit Suzhou and its jade carvers and don't forget to report it on!