Foothill Gem & Mineral Society

   The Foothill Gem & Mineral Society of La Canada, California held its first meeting April 16, 1964. They decided to have a contest to find a name and emblem for their bulletin.
   Hazel Wiseman and Cathy Reher, with the help of an artist friend, Jerry Canada, from Los Angeles, drew their idea of what a rockhound should look like. This drawing was submitted to the Club and the members felt "Rocky" was perfect for the Club Emblem. Jack Sayre, the first President, appointed Frank Iekel for project chairman.
They began with a small picture of Rocky with some scenery in the background. Then they enlarged the picture and traced it onto a piece of plywood. After discussion as to whether to make Rocky out of tumbled stones or as a commesso (intarsia), they all decided that they would prefer intarsia.
   Kathy Ough painted the picture and it was a real Rembrandt, with landscape colors and "Rocky always looking for the next happy hunting grounds". The next problem was finding material to give the project the contrast and depth desired. Thanks to a go-getting bunch of members, the problem was solved.
   Jack Sayre, W.L. Beer, and Tubby Houston did the major slabbing jobs. Ken Dullea cut out and fitted the rhodonite on the right of the picture. The Hatfields donated the rhodonite at the center and Frank did the work. Bob White had lots of fun making the saguaro cactus while Bob Dysart was making the boots and pants. Tubby made the dog and with Hazel Wiseman's help was able to line the telescope up with the eye and miss the nose. W.L. Beer made several views of the eyes, and being a perfectionist stayed with it until he was sure "Rocky" could see where to start digging the next time. Lee Smith worked on the purple mountains and Bill Drusen made the belt and the silver belt buckle. The O'Briens gave Frank the lepidolite, so he was off working on the mountains again. The foreground had us stopped for a while. But some perspective members gave us some rhyolite or wonderstone that worked well. Our one and only Honorary Member, George Heald (and there is only one of his kind) did a tremendous job on the verde antique and the rhyolite, and also made the pick and shovel. George did quite a bit of lapping too.
   The pieces were all assembled and put on the project with the exception of the silverwork done by Pat and Slim Horton, Francis Brem, and Ken Bailey. If you think silverwork is easy, try cutting out 41 letters ¼" in size, file and polish each one. That is a job in itself.
   The various members spent well over 1,200 hours on the project. All material with the exception of the silver was collected by the membership and not purchased. They felt this kind of Club Project was the best way for the membership to get acquainted and have a common interest.
   The project committee met in October 1965 to decide what the next project would be for the year. Since the Federation Show was going to be held in Las Vegas, one of the most appropriate projects would be a roulette wheel, done in a variety of stone and silver.

   The T.R. King & Co., manufacturer of game room equipment, were most helpful. They loaned the Club a regulation size roulette wheel so the committee could obtain the proper dimension, size and shape of a real roulette wheel in its true form. It was decided to use a combination of wood and stone so that the finished product would not weigh too much and become unmanageable.
   The membership then began the exhausting work to complete the project. It was a Herculean task with pitfalls at every turn. It involved every facet of lapidary, cabinetmaking and metal work to complete the wheel. All the members each contributed their special skills and materials together to create this one of a kind masterpiece. The members were asked to keep as accurate an account of the time spent on the project as possible. A very conservative estimate of hours spent was 1,500.
   The Foothill Gem & Mineral Club, as with many others grew smaller each year. The remaining members grew older and no longer were able to do this type of lapidary work. There were no longer any local shows and the projects could not be displayed. Although they completed over ten projects (not only intarsias, but dioramas, and several three dimensional works with moving parts), the work was put in storage out of public view.

   It was during that time that vandals broke into the storage facility and did a lot of damage to several pieces, including stealing parts of the roulette wheel. The few surviving members realized that they needed to find a permanent home for these works of art.
   After three years of letter writing and telephone calls, trying to locate a local museum that would accept all the artwork together and neither sell or loan them out, Laura Glenn finally found them a new permanent home. It was in 1997, with the help of curators Wes and Bunny Riley of the Crater Rock Museum. They are members of the Roxy Ann Gem & Mineral Society of Central Point, Oregon. Since the Roxy Ann Club has several skilled members, all the necessary repairs were made and all of the Foothill Club's works of art are now beautifully displayed at the Roxy Ann Club's own exquisite Crater Rock Museum.
   Just a few rock clubs took on such ambitious projects, so there aren't too many in existence. No other club made as many beautiful art pieces together as did the Foothill Gem & Mineral Society.

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