Craftsman of the Month
Cover of Rock&Gem V1N1 March-April 1971

Aaron Mount Lemle - March 2000 - Shale Incense Burner

Rock & Gem takes extreme pleasure in announcing that the Craftsman of the Month for March may just be our youngest entrant ever, 9-year-old Aaron Mount Lemle of New York City, New York, for his ingenious treatment of a slab of shale containing fossils, creating a truly unique incense burner for his mom. Here's how he tells his story.

"I love rocks as much as any grown-up does. I have a collection of rocks, minerals and fossils. When I stayed at a place near New Paltz, New York, I went to a large shale pit that contained a lot of fossils, and collected as many as I could bring home.

"A few weeks later, my mom, who loves to burn incense, said that she wished she had another incense holder. I looked for a piece of coral filled with holes, but didn't have any. I decided to try to drill a hole in one of my rocks.

"I wondered which rock would be soft enough to drill into with a regular drill for wood. Then I remembered that shale is a soft rock; I can even break it with my hands. So I picked out three big, long fossils in shale to try to drill, so that, when the incense ash fell, it would land on the fossil and not on the table.

"It was difficult with a regular drill. The drill would get really hot and I was afraid that either the drill or the fossil would break. So I kept dipping the drill bit in water. It took a long time. But finally I made a hole deep enough to hold the incense.

"Since it took so long to drill the hole, and it didn't seem like I'd used the right tool, I ran to find my recent issue of Rock & Gem to look for a better tool for drilling into rocks. I noticed the Craftsman of the Month prize was a Dremel. I wanted the Dremel in the picture, but I realized that I had to win the contest in order to get it. So here I am with my picture of a fossil incense holder which, by the way, works great and looks really cool.

"I know I'm not a true craftsman yet, but I really want to win that Dremel."

Well, Aaron. You got your wish!

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