& Kaye Carter
rather late to the lapidary hobby. It was only after retiring from a 45
year career as a structural engineer that I was able to finally devote my
attention to rocks. I had attended the mineral and gem society shows for
years, marveled at the beauty of the gems and jewelry, and somehow decided
that I would become a rockhound instead of a fisherman or a golfer, and
enter a new world of earth science that I had never had time for while making
. . . . . . .
joined the Monterey Bay Mineral Society, enrolled in some local college
courses in geology, joined in rock collecting trips, took winter vacation
visits to Quartzite and Tucson, bought a diamond saw and a Gem-Tek, a few
how-to-do-it books, and I had found myself a new career.
learned to make cabs of all shapes and sizes, miniatures, monsters, and
freeform. I glued slabs together, then shaped and polished them; made doublets
and triplets of opal and plume agate; contoured and polished fire agate
and chalcedony. Tried my hand at gemstone carving but gave it up as too
unproductive. All this time I was accumulating drawer after drawer of polished
beauties and realized that it was time for a new challenge.
had also accumulated drawer after drawer of slabs with beautiful colors
and patterns and even pictures if you could use your imagination. Big pictures
are hard to come by, but by framing little portions of them to cut out all
the distracting patterns, I discovered colors and shapes, movement, and
even realistic scenes that rivaled any that I have observed in the impressionist
and modern art exhibits in the galleries. My experience at the galleries
also taught me that if you put a frame around anything, it becomes a work
of art, even if it was the doodling of a monkey or an elephant. Voila! Let's
put a frame around it!
. . . . . . .
years my relaxation hobby was woodworking, so of course the system of putting
pieces together came naturally. I tried laminating, then mitering the frames,
then inserting the pictures. This was difficult and seldom successful. Better
results were obtained with more direct methods with butt joints. I think
my next challenge will be to master a system for fabricating curved elements
to give my gallery of pictures additional variety.
Many of my rockhound friends find ways to market the output of their hobby
- some because they need the extra income and some just to cover the costs
of the hobby they enjoy. So far I have resisted the idea of selling my lapidary
products. When I sold my business to my employees and retired, I resolved
to stay away from any activities with time pressures and deadlines; making
and selling merchandise has both. When asked what I might sell some of my
pieces for, I quote a price based on a piece of art rather than a craft
item. So far there have been no takers and without gallery sponsorship and
their promotion there will not likely be any. I have donated many wearable
items to "white tie" service clubs or charity auctions where they
were well received but were obtained at bids that made for real bargains.
family and close friends receive them as Christmas gifts. People who have
done me a great favor or a special service receive them with a thank-you
letter. My favorites are set up in a display case art gallery in my home
for visitors to admire and help me title. In the meantime there are still
drawers full of slabs with pictures to be discovered, trays full of the
little rock strips of assorted colors and shades to be used for matt and
frames (these I call my intarsia pallet), and the frustrated artist's desire
to keep searching for the ultimate picture".