finding the gem in rocks

When it came time to choose a wedding ring for his bride Pamela Rademacher, Sequim resident Dewey Southwick wasn't about to visit a regular jeweler.

The Clallam County Gem & Mineral Society member took matters into his own hands, literally, to make a one-of-a-kind ring. Southwick found a plastic wedding bell at a craft store, took it apart to cast a 14-carat gold setting and secured a fire agate in the center.

"I think it's beautiful," Rademacher said.

Southwick, who along with his wife proudly announce they are the oldest members of the society, is one of the only people in the Sequim area to work with fire agate, a medium that Rademacher calls "a lost art."

Southwick's fire agate, as well as painted rocks, gemstone spheres and sea glass jewelry, will be on display for the public at the club's annual October show, but people also will be able to get a sneak peek behind the scenes for the first time at the club's lapidary shop.

"We want to show people what we do and how we do it," said shop supervisor Lester Mears, "instead of them just seeing the finished product."

The shop, which sits off U.S. Highway 101 on Hooker Road and is available to all members during the nine hours a week it is open, is just 20-feet by 30-feet but holds all the equipment the club members need. One side is lined with trim saws to cut the rocks, the back wall is lined with polishers that take the rock through different stages of shaping and smoothing and another wall is crammed with silversmithing tools.

"Members just come in here and work," Mears said. "We help each

other out."

What sets the Gem & Mineral Society apart from other clubs, said member Foster Thompson, is the abundance and variety of the classes it offers.

"We offer everything from wire-wrapping to rock painting to glass bead-making," said Thompson, who built many of the machines in the lapidary shop.

In addition to teaching several of the classes and helping Mears keep up the shop, Thompson also enjoys sharing his knowledge and work with Sequim students. At the upcoming show, Thompson said there will be an area catering to children, with rock painting and other youth-centered activities. He specifically invites third-graders from Helen Haller Elementary School because they often study rocks and minerals around the time of the show. Other times of the year middle school students visit the shop to cut rocks and the Boys & Girls Club members visit, as well.

"When a child makes something and he has it in his hand, he just wants to show it off," Thompson said. "To watch the kids with their excitement

excites me."

For more information about

the club or the show, visit


"Earth's Treasures"

Who: Clallam County Gem & Mineral Society

What: "Earth's Treasures 2008," the society's annual show

When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 3, and

Saturday, Oct. 4; and

9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 5

Where: Guy Cole Convention Center at Carrie Blake Park

Event includes games, demonstrations, silent auction and raffle prizes.

Contact: Bill Dettmer at

565-8301 or Wanda Power at 681-2323

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