Dr. Charles & Ardis Irvin

Charles E. Irvin Jr., Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. 1916-1999

   "The dictionary defines the word 'lapidary' as 'cutter, polisher, or engraver of gems'. Charles Irvin was an extraordinary "lapidary", exploring as one of his hobbies, the many angles of the art of the lapidary. Cutting, polishing, carving, engraving, faceting…. he used literally every conceivable manner of changing rough rocks and gems into beautiful objects. A self-taught artist, and a perfectionist, no idea was too complicated or too difficult to bring to a successful conclusion. 

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   He was introduced to the lapidary world in the early 1950's by a client and friend, George Nash of Redlands, CA. From George he purchased his first equipment, and from that beginning his interests began to expand. The first step was to acquire materials and to learn techniques from friends, books, dealers, and his own experience. He and his wife Ardis, joined a Mineralogical Society and began to show in competition, statewide, and nationally. As his degree of competency increased and his interests developed, he won trophies in every field of lapidary in which he competed, cabochons, faceted gemstones, carvings, general lapidary, and then intarsias (commessi). He learned to work with hundreds and hundreds of different materials, and he and Ardis traveled the United States and the world searching for rare and beautiful "rocks" for his projects. 

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   Charles was born and raised in Arizona. In his early teens he developed an unusual interest in the ancient Indians, an interest that carried through to the main subjects of choice in his 'pictures of stone'. Intarsia was perhaps the most challenging of all the different types of lapidary, as some were so large as to be extremely difficult to handle. His technique involved putting the picture together upside down so it was never viewed until the polishing was completed, (usually on a vibrating lap). Only two of these pictures were ever commissioned, and those by a very special family friend.

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   One of Charles's "specialties" was to make intarsia cabochons. He used petrified wood from Arizona to make flower pictures and geometric designs, another new and intriguing idea.
   Working with wood was another talent Charles possessed He carved and painted miniature and full-sized carousel horses, patterned after original antiques. Many other unusual and fascinating objects of wood came from his workshop.
His generosity made it possible for his family of three children and five grandchildren to have and enjoy many of his beautiful works of art during his lifetime. Six of his largest pictures hang in their homes. He has left behind an incredible legacy for them, and for me, his wife".

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