Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Gem of a class
When Lee Adams slices open a rock, he never knows what he will find. For the retired engineer, that mystery is the allure of the stone.
“Some are solid, some are not,” said the Bandera resident. “I can’t tell before I cut whether it’s white crystal, or agate or amethyst. It could be a 2.5 million year old nautilus fossil.”
Adams has spent 40 year pursuing his hobby in rocks. He is sharing his passion with Club Ed students for the first time this fall, teaching courses in Lapidary Arts and Wire Wrapping for Jewelry.
“I first started collecting rocks, then wondered what do I do with all of them?” He began with a used rock tumbler, and from there he couldn’t stop. Adams bought all the equipment from a retired rock collector, and soon was cutting and polishing gemstones. The fact he lived in Idaho and had unlimited supply of raw material within 50 miles of his home made his hobby more addicting.
Adams and wife, Judy, now make all types of jewelry, brooches, earrings, bracelets, and even bookends. They sell at shows and give their work away as gifts (“We give away more than we sell,” he admitted).
Adams, who is president of the Fredericksburg Rock & Mineral Club, loves to not only share his jewelry, butalso likes to help others build an appreciation for the hobby. He especially enjoys showing the secret wonders of lapidary with youngsters.
“I have thousands of pounds of polished gems that I’ve given to kids,” he said. “A kid will pick up a rock and be fascinated with it. They are fascinated with petrified wood and I’ve got lots of it. They can see that wood and understand what they are holding.”
This is Adams’ first time teaching for Club Ed. The class will meet at his shop in Bandera - “the finest rock shop in the area.”
“In the Club Ed class we are going to cut and polish two stones, plus look at the overall hobby, the equipment, and other forms of cutting and faceting.”
Adams warns students that working with rock is not without its challenges. “You can’t cut inside corners - it’s not like a piece of wood where you have saws to do that. Any cut has to be a straight line.” He also keeps a piece of carpet in front of his rock saw. “That’s because if you drop a stone on concrete it doesn’t do it much good. It’s frustrating to be almost done and have it break.”
He will also teach how to make jewelry with a technique known as wire wrapping. “We saw some wire wrapped stuff, and said, we can do that!” He and his wife came up with original patterns and designs, and are eager to help students learn the art. “Anyone can do it, you just get real creative with it. No two of my pieces are ever the same.”
For Adams, the timeless appeal of working with stone never leaves. When he holds another rock in his hand, the sense of wonder always returns.
“When I crack open a rock, I am the very first human to see the inside,” he said. “And I am surprised every time.”
Lapidary Arts begins Monday, Sept 13. Wire Wrapping starts Oct 13. For information or to sign up, click www.clubed.net, or call 830-895-4386.
Club Ed is the Community Education program of the Kerrville Independent School District. Each session, we offer hundreds of enrichment classes and individual training throughout the Texas Hill Country and online. Follow us at ClubEdComments.blogspot.com, on Twitter @clubedtx, and on Facebook at Club Ed!