Abe Frye

   "Walter Abraham Frye, but everyone called him Abe, was born in 191. Abe Frye worked for the Lewiston Orchard Irrigation District. He later worked as a Deputy Sheriff for Nez Perce County, Idaho. He also worked as a member of the Air Posse. He was an avid rockhound most of his life. He did lapidary work many years before starting the intarsia. He did a lot of Star Garnets, Agate, Fire agate, Precious Opal, Jasper, Petrified Wood and the like until he got interested in the intarsia work. After that he spent a good deal of his extra time doing the intarsia.

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   Abe stared dong intarsia in the late 1950's or late 1960's depending on which one of his relatives I talked to. He stopped doing the intarsia in the late 1980's about 2 years before he died.
   On one of his many trips trading, selling, buying, and rockhounding while in Arizona; he saw a simple piece of intarsia there that sparked his interest. He thought he could do that work and do it much better. He had an uncanny way f picking the right design and colors of stone for framing and highlighting the focal point so the viewers focus would be directed to it.

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   He used natural rock scenes as a picture in the center of cabochons for many of the intarsias. Many of the single pieces for the focal point would be dendritic such as are found in some Montana agates and jaspers from different localities. He also used plume agate and just some jaspers that have a good color contrast.
   Abe worked with one of his rockhound friends, 'June Hart', with some of the intarsia he did. June painted animals, fish and sometimes scenery o flat slabs of agate or scenic jasper. She would then glue a slab of optical grade quartz on top of the agate or jasper and the cab it. It makes a fantastic looking cabochon. When working with Abe; she would paint whatever was wanted on the jasper or agate, glue the optical quartz on top, and Abe would then take over. He would cut the piece to the desired shape for the intarsia he had in mind. He would do the cutting and gluing of the other kinds of stones he planned on using to finish the intarsia.

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   The most exceptionally beautiful piece of intarsia I have seen is one that Abe Frye and June Hart did. June painted a deer towards the right side of a good-sized slab of picture jasper with good dendrite. Then a slab of optical quartz was glued to the jasper. She then painted a second deer just to the left of center and also painted some trees and brush on that piece of optical quartz. Then there was a second slab of optical quartz glued on which she painted some more brush. I think she used a third optical quartz on top of the second to protect the paint. Abe Frye then took the piece; cut and glued three sets of white petrified wood frame with four small triangles of red jasper, one in each corner. This method of intarsia artwork gives an astounding three-dimensional look to the piece! The picture in this intarsia is about the size of a playing card.

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   Abe Frye was an avid outdoorsman and rockhound. During one of his rockhounding ventures he found an unusual form of jasper and sent it to the University of Idaho, in Moscow, Idaho to be analyzed. It was proven to be a new form of jasper and Abe named it 'Fryeite.'
   Fryeite is extremely dense and take a very high polish. It is a distinctive type of jasper that has some lines of pure manganese I it. It is jet black with different shades of brown. Sometimes it has lines of pure white with the jet black. Other rimes it has purple with jet black. More rare are pieces with a lens or lenses of precious opal or banded agate. Abe used Fryeite as the centerpiece in some of his intarsia work"

By Ralph Mathewson

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