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Everybody must get STONES

Dig deep enough and you might find the center of what forms a rock enthusiast.

The members of the Clallam County Gem & Mineral Society, each found his or her sparkle in a different way.

Eligia Guizar, a member for four years, became involved through a friend who worked in silversmithing, combining cabochons - shaped rocks - with silver.

"I just love to be able to find a rock and turn it into something," Guizar said.

She mainly focuses on forming silver wires around cabochons.

"I'll spend all my life doing this and I'll never get my pieces to look as smooth as hers," said Foster Thompson, club instructor and member.

Longtime member Dewey Southwick began making belt buckles with cabochons and silver.

"Belt buckles were fun but, as I went along, I thought there has got to be more to this than just buckles," Southwick said.

Now he is the only club member to work with the rare fire agate found only in Mexican and southwestern U.S. mines.

Those who have crafted for years might seem intimidating to the novice crafters, but younger members don't see a gap.

Caitlin Stofferahn, 12, the youngest member of the club, comes with her uncle to the club's shop and feels accepted by her mentors.

Several group members at their monthly meeting were quick to mention Stofferahn's skills despite her inexperience.

"It doesn't matter who is in the club because we are all working on the same things and toward the same goals." Guizar said.

Cindy Green, a member since November, came to the club's gem and mineral show last year and liked what she saw happening with the stones.

When other members work on larger pieces of stone, she takes scraps and shapes them into her own projects for cabochons and wire wrappings.

Most members find rocks on beaches, in shops, at other rock shows, on rock hunts, through trading and from other Washington rock clubs.

"It's a little network," Green said.

Some members take annual trips to Arizona rock and mineral shows to find exclusive and rare items.



Gem and Mineral Show

The first gem and mineral show's date isn't known, said club shop supervisor Lester Mears.

Beginning in 1954, the club has seen hundreds of members make thousands of items. Current members still boast that four U.S. astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, are lifetime members for their handling and examination of moon rocks.

The annual "Earth's Treasures" Rock & Gem show Oct. 2-4, at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, might not have rocks from outer space, but the members invite the public to see their process at their open house on Saturday, Aug. 29.

"Those who come will get a chance to meet new people, learn the lapidary part and then be able to go in the direction that they choose," Mears said.

Both the open house and annual show will have demonstrations of faceting, cutting cabochons, knapping (shaping) arrowheads, silversmithing, lapidary (grinding), wire wrapping and more.

One of the most popular forms, spheres, will not be demonstrated at the show because of the messiness of the machine, but finished versions will be displayed.

Thompson formed a sphere out of the same glass used in the older generation of Coca Cola bottles. A factory had almost 2,000 tons of the solid glass available after shutting down, so he took home a 31/2-foot-by-10-inch slab weighing hundreds of pounds.

Thompson cut cubes

from it and made the spheres. He sold one for $800 and appraises his current, larger one at $1,000.



Stone's throw away

Gem & Mineral Society members said lapidary's appeal comes from its new challenges and new ideas with every project.

"I'm one of those people who gets into a hobby and then it keeps going and going," Thompson said.

"When you start out, you get really into it and make 300 cabs. Then you add wires and silversmith. It goes where your imagination takes you."

Club member Victor Reventlow finds rocks exciting.

"You only need to see a rock for its adventure through the ages," he said.

"Then to shape it into something more is another adventure in itself."

"How many times in your life are you the first person to find what's in the middle of this beautiful and original rock?" Thompson asked.

"It's an adventure, all right."

For more information on Clallam County Gem & Mineral Society, go to www.olympicrocks.com.

Monthly meetings are at 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month at Fifth Avenue Retirement Center, 500 W. Hendrickson Road, Sequim.

The club offers several classes with schedules available online and their open house and show.



Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.



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