Friday, February 9th - I arrived as TGMS workers opened the Main Event this morning to make sure I would have an opportunity to photograph these cool micromount displays that were shown on the main floor at the Convention Center as a special exhibit by the The Micromineral Society of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. When I encountered this display yesterday the area in front of it was continuously congested with curious kids as well as adults crowding around to peer through the sets of oculars. It appeared to me these displays were getting the real job done and merited a closer inspection. After a look-see for myself I finally gave up for the time being yesterday after waiting for about 15 minutes hoping the crowd would at least temporarily thin so I could take some unobstructed pictures documenting these clever displays.
When I first looked through a set of oculars my first impression was I was actually viewing a specimen at about 30x through some kind of home brewed binocular microscope. This caused a quick How'd they do that??? and upon closer inspection I realized I wasn't looking at a specimen through a microscope, but viewing a stereo pair of 35mm slides, one set through each of the inexpensive pairs of magnifiers making up the binocular "oculars".
This display was actually made up of arrays of homebrew "View-Masters" with one pair of eyepieces dedicated to each set of slides. Because it provided stereo images as appreciated by micromounters through their binocular microscopes I thought this display very effective. It is at least a light year beyond the usual micromount display, typically consisting of the mounted micros (which of course you cannot actually see with your unaided eyes inside a case) with drugstore variety prints of 2-dimensional photomicrographs of the specimens displayed behind them (which you are lucky if you can actually see with your unaided eyes inside a case).
Note how each station where the stereo pairs are viewed also provides a descriptive specimen label and illuminated portholes through which you can view the actual specimen and also an enlarged print providing a 2-dimensional preview of the stereo image available through its associated eyepieces.
When I weighed the effect of this display and the interest it was generating against the cost of its components, I decided I was looking at a pretty elegant and inspired piece of engineering. While a good deal of thought obviously went into their design and care into constructing these units, they struck me as something that could be readily reproduced once you have the concept by just about rockhound or committee of rockhounds who are handy with hand tools and have micro picture taking capabilities.
When I made some further inquires during the Friday morning micromounter swap session beginning at 10am, I learned from Bill and Anne Cook from Cleveland Heights, Ohio that the spark behind these cool micromount displays was a gentleman and micromounter named Chuck Brown, now deceased. My hat is off to Chuck and the The Micromineral Society of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for their cleverness and service to our hobby through education.
Attending the annual Arthur Roe Micromounter Symposium that's held at the TGMS Main Event on the last Friday of the Tucson Show has become a regular indulgence for me while making my rounds at the Convention Center. The micromounter hobnobbing kicks off at 10:00 am with a micromounter's swap and show-and-tell session that runs until 1:00pm when the symposium speakers begin making their presentations.
Shown above is the micromount swap area, which was set off to one side of the Turquoise Ball Room, a new location for the micromounters this year. This room also housed an A/V lecture area for Symposium presentations. A number of tables were set up with boxes and egg cartons of specimens brought for trade and giveaway. There were a number of tables fully laden with a great variety of micromountable material and specimens, which was all freely available to interested participants.
Pictured above center are scopes and several of the micromounters who occupied a long table off to the side of the free trade tables. Anyone with questions or desiring to use a scope to view a specimen was more than welcome by these folks, some of who also offered additional micro specimens for sale or subject to more restricted trades.
There were several other tables set up to support the swap activities, including one loaded with all the requisite accouterments and supplies such as egg cartons, boxes, paper and pens for making labels, and toilet paper and paper towels for wrapping delicate specimens. These micromounter rockhounds are well organized and have their acts together.
The Arthur Roe Micromounter Symposium at the Main Event continues to grow in participation and attendance since it started with half a dozen or so attendees about 8 years ago. It is hosted by the Micromount group of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society. This hobnob has roots which run back into the early '70s when a group including the likes of Paul Desautels and Neal Yedlin, who were both among the 6 original members elected to the Micromounter's Hall of Fame, met during Tucson in the venerable 3-story Desert Inn - a now demolished Show location.
This year's symposium began with "A Mineral Collector's Tour of Utah" presented by Joe Marty from Salt Lake City, Utah. Joe was followed by Phil Richardson, also of Salt Lake, who made a companion presentation titled "A Survey of Contemporary Utah". Joe and Marty distributed a nice handout that detailed recent new mineral listings and type locality minerals from Utah, along with a number of Utah mineralogy references and an extensive bibliography for further reading by micromounters interested in collecting in Utah or Utah's minerals and localities. Included in their handout references were the URLs of these two web sites:
Joe and Marty's presentations were followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session on "Better Micromounting" that was presented in conjunction with the International Federation of Micromount Societies. The panel line up included moderator Richard Thomssen from Dayton, Nevada, Arthur Smith from Houston, Texas who presented "Micromounting and Preserving Water Soluble and Minute Crystals", Michael Kokinos of Shingle Springs, California who presented "Stewardship of Your Collection for Tomorrow", and Van King from Walworth, New York presenting "Micromounting and Regional Mineralogical Research".
The TGMS micromounter's group extends an open invitation to other collectors to attend future Arthur Roe Micromounter Symposiums at the Tucson Show. If you are even casually interested in microminerals or micromounting, you're welcome to participate, learn and enjoy meeting others who share your interests in this beautiful and intriguing rockhounding niche. All micromounters and micromounter wannabes are welcome to acquire some micromineral specimens from the free trade table, whether or not you yet have any trading material with which to reciprocate. Don't forget to bring your loupe and see you at the micromounter's hobnob next year!
Further information is available from the Micromount group of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, which usually meets on the second Monday of each month at 7pm except during the summer months of June, July and August. If you're a Tucson local or snowbird with an interest in micromounting you are welcome to join in and enjoy the good things that come in small packages with the TGMS Micromount group. Contact Bill Meinert by phone 520.625.1256 or email email@example.com for directions or further information on the TGMS Micromount group or next year's Arthur Roe Micromounter Symposium.
2001 Cleveland Museum of Natural History Micromineral Symposium!
BTW, there was a flyer included in my handout announcing a Micromineral Symposium to be held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Cleveland, Ohio on November 2,3,4 2001. It bills Jim McGlasson as the main speaker and 'Microminerals of Brazil' and 'Chromate Minerals' as the main topics. This is the same group behind the micromount displays I appreciated and detailed above and their upcoming hobnob towards the end of this year sounds like a great round-up for back East micromounter dudes. Contact Bill and Anne Cook, Phone 216.381.9003 for further info and preregistration if you can attend the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Micromineral Symposium.