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Lapidary Schools on the east coast?


#1

Many of the designs in my head for jewelry would work with unusually
shaped cabochons, not standard oval or round ones. I am most
interested in learning what equipment to buy and how to cut stones
into cabochons but have run into a dead-end for locating rock clubs
or places to learn how to do so here in the Northeast part of the
U.S. I find hands-on instruction better than reading about
processes. Does anyone have a suggestion about where to go?

I’ve learned a ton of here on Orchid - thanks so much.
Mary Collier Fisher, Walpole, Massachusetts


#2

Hi, Mary,

This is not exactly what you asked for, but you can give yourself a
great jump-start on lapidary skills for embarassingly little money by
attending a class or two at either Wild Acres or William Holland
School of Lapidary. The first is in North Carolina, the second in
Georgia. You can attend and take class for a week for as little as
$260, including room and board. That’s not a typo. Really. I took
beginning faceting at Wild Acres a couple of months ago, and had a
great time. I will paste an article I wrote about it for my local
guild newsletter (the Chicago Metal Arts Guild) below. Good luck!

–Noel

WILD ACRES RETREAT By Noel Yovovich

This past month, I had the opportunity to spend a week at Wild Acres
Retreat, in North Carolina, and I think it was an experience others
might want to be aware of.

The retreat is run by a foundation, and an assortment of groups are
granted periods of time to hold programs for their members. You can
learn all about it at www.wildacres.org. The point, for my purposes,
is that several weeks a year are booked by various member groups of
the American Mineralogical Foundation (AMF). The classes during these
times (as opposed to, say, the week that is taken by the Revere
Academy) are subsidized by the foundation, and a class plus food and
lodging can cost as little as $260. Really!

I went to take beginning faceting with Tom Wilke. Tom is patient,
unrufflable, and extremely knowledgeable. I am now very excited about
this discipline, though I don=92t currently have access to the
necessary equipment. I came home with two finished stones, but this is
a little misleading, as I cut each of them more than once. Faceting
requires care and attention to minute details, patience, and the
right machinery. At first blush, it would seem that there is little
room for creativity, and no real opportunity for profit. The latter
may well be true, but I have a bunch of ideas for unconventional cuts
I=92d like to try out.

I love going out of town to take intensive workshops, and have been
to the Revere Academy and the New Approach school. But this was a
very different experience. I had heard it described as =93summer camp
for grown-ups=94. Never having gone to summer camp, I figured it was
about time. I joined one of the member groups of the Southeastern
Federation of Mineralogical Societies (SFMS), chosen pretty much at
random, at a cost of $15 for the year-- the classes are only open to
AMF members. I chose a class, and sent off my application the day
they began accepting them. As it turned out, there was room in most
of the classes offered, maybe because I went to the less popular fall
session.

Most attendees drive their own cars to Wild Acres, as it is pretty
far from any real airport. Charlotte and Knoxville are the closest if
you want a non-stop flight on a jet. I flew (which was cheap) and
rented a car (which was not). Still, considering the low cost of the
time there, it still came out quite economical.

Now, here=92s where things depart from anything I had ever experienced
before. The motel-style rooms are double occupancy, so I was assigned
a roommate. A large, central bell is rung at 7:30 to get you out of
bed. Breakfast is at 8:00 (bell again). Meals, which were fresh,
wholesome (mostly=97not counting the hot dogs and Tater Tots one night=
)
and well-prepared, served family-style plus a salad bad.
Unfortunately, the desserts were excellent. Any table I sat at was as
welcoming as if I had known the people there all my life. Everyone
was amazingly open and friendly. They are mostly retirees, so I was
among the younger people there, but no notice seemed to be taken of
that, or my Northern accent (remember, this was the Southeastern
Federation, and most attendees were from the Carolinas, Tennessee and
Florida), or the unusual fact that I am a professional jeweler. I was
taken by surprise when each meal was proceeded by a blessing, but
there was no direct mention of God, let alone any particular
religion, and the blessings were well written and universal.

Mornings were intense work in the classroom, then a bell again for
lunch, repeat until dinner. There were optional activities in the
evenings. I would have preferred more work time, but there were
auctions of donated items, and an activity called =93tailgating=94 in
which anyone could open their car trunk and offer goods for sale. On
our one free afternoon, a local member of my class took me rock
hunting, which was a highlight of the week. The area is full of
(mostly now defunct) gem mines, and we climbed around in a pile of
=93tailings=94 (leftover rocks thrown out in the mining process) crack=
ing
rocks open in search of garnet and apatite. The countryside is
gorgeous and wild, with houses scattered and isolated in the
mountains.

I had the misfortune to be there during hurricane Ivan, so wind,
rain, fog, and a 14-hour power outage inconvenienced us. But my class
was well-taught and great fun. If I go back, I would try to get a
room to myself, if that is possible, as I find 24-hour-a-day company a
bit wearing. But I enjoyed it very much, and it was definitely a
change of scenery!

I=92m told that William Holland School of Lapidary Arts, in Georgia,
has much the same arrangement, except that the accommodations are
more rustic, and classes more focussed. I=92d like to try that next
year!


#3

It’s a bit far south, but there is one place that comes to mind
offhand…William Holland School of lapidary…I think it’s down in
Georgia or TN or some place.

Jeanne
http://www.jeanniusdesigns.com


#4

Hi Mary, It is difficult to find someone who will teach the how
to’s. I have taken lessons form Kurt Patzlaff on several occasions.
He has also come in to my jewelry class and taught them how to cut
stones,we had a great time. He often teaches at Brookfield Craft
center. You can contact him thru his website… amber-werx.com. That
will give you his address and phone number. He is very helpful!!

Happy cutting!!!

Helen


#5

Join your local mineral club - they often offer classes. The
Southeastern Federation of Mineralogical Societies,
www.amfed.org/sfms/index.html, offers one week classes for members,
and there is a group out of area folks can join. Excellent classes
and the price is unbeatable.

The William Holland School of Lapidary Arts, www.lapidaryschool.org,
is excellent, and offers courses from late spring through fall.

Beth in SC


#6

Hi Mary, Although my school is known for goldsmithing and granulation
instruction, I do teach cabochon cutting to those who are interested.
Very few students want to cut there own stones.

I cut and polish many stones for my own work. Doing the goldsmithing
and cutting the stones for a piece of jewelry is very satisfying.

The internet a fabulous source for buying rough.

Please contact me if you would like to come to New Jersey for a
stone cutting workshop.

Regards,

Fredricka Kulicke
PO Box 216
Augusta NJ 07822
phone 201 230 2973
www,kulickejewelryschool.com
www.FredrickaKulicke.com


#7
Many of the designs in my head for jewelry would work with
unusually shaped cabochons, not standard oval or round ones. I am
most interested in learning what equipment to buy and how to cut
stones into cabochons but have run into a dead-end for locating
rock clubs or places to learn how to do so here in the Northeast
part of the U.S. I find hands-on instruction better than reading
about processes. Does anyone have a suggestion about where to go?

Dear Mary,

Try http://www.facetersco-op.com/zabinski/Clubs/Massachusetts.html
for a list. Also http://www.amfed.org and http://www.amfed.org/efmls
and also a good site is http://www.vgms.org and
http://www.rockhounds.com/rockshop/table.shtml

Cheapest acceptable cabbing unit (sometimes people get lucky though)
would be to build it yourself. Go to the IGS site, a good place for
much available to visitors, http://www.gemsociety.org
brows the site and see recommended suppliers -calibrated jam peg for
link, they have plans for it.

Browse those site and follow the links and you will find a lot of
As to clubs not all are listed, in Ogden the golden
spike is but not the beehive, several centers have
lapidary/silversmithing and usually someone can point you one very
close to you. (Unfortunately some in Utah are connected to senior
centers and may or may not have an age limit of 50+, as there is no
rent, utilities etc., not all). We also have a night class at a high
school teaching jewelry making open to anyone, sometime a college
has one for a minimal fee. Once you are in this loop you will find
all kinds of things. Benefits are many, join a club.


#8
I have taken lessons form Kurt Patzlaff on several occasions.

I agree that you can learn a lot from Kurt, but he’s frequently
inappropriately familiar with the gals. Nothing criminal, but
annoying and pesky, like a deer fly. And, he sells “Columbian amber”.

From the web site:

  The Colombian amber is considered new as is about 1 million
  years old. It comes from the Sandtander province on the
  Magarita River deep in the Colombian jungles.

Christine, in Littleton, Massachusetts