Snapshots from the Tucson 2001 Gem and Mineral Show
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Main Event II - A Bola Round-Up, Tucson Style

Pictured here is an overview and detail of a Fabergé Carousel Egg, which contains a music box that plays Johann Strauss Jr.'s "Emperor's Waltz". The carousel horses were about 1 1/2" overall. According to its label it bears the marks 134T (Theo) Fabergé. England. This piece was shown in a case in the Arena area of the Main Event courtesy Betty Fisher.

Essex Marketing-Fabergé had a coordinated presence at the Main Event this year and was offering contemporary Fabergé pieces. The two contemporary eggs pictured above were displayed in an endcap case just around the corner from the carousel egg. The rose quartz egg with flowers depicted above left was about 12" high. The reindeer propelled, malachite egg coach above right was about 6" high. You could take your pick for $10,000. To my eye these contemporary examples paled by comparison with the overall artistry, sublime craftsmanship and materials of the antique Imperial objects I was able to appreciate up close. But considering that nowadays they just don't make things like they used to ;) and of course adjusting for factors such as a century's worth of inflation, loss of empire and so forth, the $10,000 these eggs wanted is no doubt cheap compared to the cost of the Imperial eggs.

Depicted at left is an antique Fabergé Emerald Seal that was about 2 1/2" high overall. This silver gilted seal featured enamel over guilloche engraving and diamonds, rubies and carnelian as precious ornamentation accenting the large emerald. According to its label, this piece had the mark of Fabergé. Workmaster Michael Perchin. St. Petersburg, circa 1890. It was identified as item 2327 and displayed courtesy G.R. Hansen.

I think this object provides a very symbolic and visual manifestation of trappings accompanying power. As I admired and photographed it I could not help but wonder what historical and human dramas unfolded with documents bearing the mark of such a seal.

I thought some of you native metals collectors would enjoy a peek into case 133 shown in the overview shot above for a closer look at some of the outstanding silvers contained within. These native silvers were drawn from a number of collections to create a companion case to the case of native coppers previously shown, and the case of golds that's yet to come...

The silver shown above left is about 6" high and this specimen displayed a leafy, dendritic growth pattern. It is was labeled as from Houghton, Michigan and displayed courtesy the David collection.

The wiry silver above center is also about 6" high and from Kongsberg, Norway. It was displayed courtesy the Pellman collection. This wiry specimen appears to be embracing some associated gangue material, which I thought added appreciably to its cool factor.

The silver pictured above right was labeled as another Houghton Michigan specimen and is about 4" in height. It was displayed courtesy the Larson collection and this specimen also appeared to be clutching with some gangue rocks.

The silver specimen depicted above left is about 1 1/2" overall. It is from Kongsberg, Norway and was displayed courtesy the Obodda collection.

The silver above right is about 2" overall and from Chanareillo, Mexico. This one was displayed courtesy the Wilson collection. I thought the shape of this specimen resembled the tattered remnants of a battle flag.

The pretty silver shown above left is about 4" overall. Its label gave it as being from the Cliff mine, Keweenaw, MI and it was displayed courtesy the Dyl collection. It featured silver crystals arrayed in a fern like pattern. This one appears to be a silver on copper.

The silver above right is about 4" overall and from Batopilos, Mexico. It was displayed courtesy the Meieran collection. I thought this one rather handsome and it reminded me of the lightning scarred and twisted stumps of bristle cone pines I have seen at altitude hiking along the edge of the timberline in Rocky Mountain National Park and other alpine environments.

The silver specimen depicted above left is about 2" overall and it is another Kongsberg, Norway piece. This one was displayed courtesy the Asselborn collection.

Shown above right is a silver from Batopilos, Mexico that is about 3" overall. It was displayed courtesy the Wallace collection.

The 5" or so overall specimen pictured above left is another Kongsberg, Norway silver. This one was displayed courtesy the Wilensky collection. I liked the curving "S" shape of this piece, which reminded me of the interesting driftwood roots and branches I once collected along the north shore of Flathead lake and fashioned with rope into magnum size, multi-tiered wind driven mobiles. I lofted and hung a number of them from towering trees outside the place I lived in along the river one summer many moons ago in Bigfork, Montana.

Above center is another silver from Keweenaw. It was about 2 1/2" overall and displayed courtesy the Leavitt collection.

Shown above right is another Kongsberg, Norway piece. This wiry silver was about 4" overall and it was displayed courtesy the Brown collection. I'm afraid the mystique and aesthetic of a lot of the wire silvers I've seen prized by others escapes me somewhat, but I thought this one pretty sublime and sure wouldn't kick this perched Kongsberg wire off my specimen shelves for taking up too much space... I tried to figure out what this one reminded me of and I finally decided it just reminded me of a really beautiful Kongsberg wire.

These two wires above were displayed apart from the collaboration above and are from the Frinchillo collection pieces on display in case 138. The specimen pictured above left is a wonderful silver with calcite from Kongsberg, Norway. It was about 6" overall. To the right above is a rather remarkable piece that was also about 6" overall, the authenticity of which was "not yet determined" according to its label...

Main Event exhibitors can be counted on to present some awesome tourmaline specimens from worldwide localities in their cases for tourmaline collectors and rockhounds to admire and ogle over, and some outstanding tourmalines graced the cases harboring this year's displays. I noted no mass, collaborative displays featuring tourmalines such as were presented for coppers, silvers and golds at this year's Main Event, but following is a virtual collection assembled for you tourmaline fanciers from some of the showy examples of this mineral group from California, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Brazil that caught my eye as I browsed various cases of pegmatite minerals and mineralogical potpourri.

Pictured above left is a gemmy rubellite tourmaline on quartz with lepidolite from the Himalaya mine, Mesa Grande, San Diego County, CA. The rubellite crystal is about 2" long. This specimen was displayed in case 61 courtesy the American Museum of Natural History.

Above right is another tourmaline from California. This elbaite nestled between a pair associated quartz crystals and this handsome piece was about 4" overall. It was noted on its label as having been acquired from the John Barlow collection and was displayed in case 19 courtesy the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Depicted above left is a rubellite tourmaline with lepidolite from the Stewart mine, Pala, San Diego County, CA. This specimen was about 4 1/2" overall and displayed in case 61 by the American Museum of Natural History.

Above center is an elbaite tourmaline from the Paula Chief Mine, Pala, San Diego County, CA. This upscale specimen was shown in case 20, titled "Gem Minerals from the Pegmatites of San Diego County, CA". This impressive California elbaite was about 6" overall and displayed courtesy the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Shown above right is a rather pretty cluster of elbaite tourmaline crystals on quartz from the Himalaya mine, Mesa Grande, San Diego County, CA that was also shown in their "Gem Minerals from the Pegmatites of San Diego County, CA" courtesy the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. This specimen was about 6" overall.

Pictured at left is a backlighted, multicolored elbaite tourmaline from Nigeria, Africa. This elbaite crystal was easily 6" across and the backlighting made an eye catching display. This one was displayed in case 65 courtesy J.X. International Rough Mining and Colored Gemstones, Inc.

Above right is an attractive elbaite tourmaline with quartz, topaz and clevelandite. It was about 5" across and from the Paurok Area, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. It was displayed in case 141 titled "Gem Pegmatites of the World" courtesy Jesse Fisher and Joan Kureczka.

The image above left is of a showy cluster of elbaite tourmaline crystals surrounding a prominent individual on albite from the Pederneira mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil. This specimen was about 12" overall and displayed in case 51 courtesy the Kathryn F. Pistor collection.

Shown above right is a schorl tourmaline from Little Cahuilla Mountain, Riverside County, near Anza, CA. This "peace sign" schorl would have been quite a hit with my contemporaries back in the 1960s but I think I can appreciate it even more today. This schorl was about 10" high and was displayed in case 98 courtesy the Ordway collection. Peace, brother...

Depicted above left is a blue-green tourmaline on albite from Pech, Afghanistan. It featured an aesthetic group of three prominent crystals perched on the albite and was about 5" overall. This piece was displayed in case 51 courtesy the Bruce J. Oreck collection.

The image right is a rather aesthetic cluster of slender bicolor tourmaline crystals with albite and lepidolite from Pederneira, Minas Gerais, Brazil. This pretty specimen was about 8" overall and was displayed in case 138 courtesy the Budil collection.

"Happy Agate from a Happy Place" was the title on the label for this slice, shown in case 76 by Pat McMahan of Sedona, Arizona. This polished slab was about 8" or so in diameter and if there was a competition category for the "Coolest Rock" at the Main Event this one would have been a heavyweight contender. If you are an agate fancier be sure you do not miss Pat's also way cool Agates with Inclusions web site! BTW, Pat's is one of the very few web sites I have ever seen where "frames" work for me... Good job with both your collection and your web site Pat, and congrats also as I've just selected your site as the current "Shop's Pick" and featured web site on the link list at Bob's Rock Shop.

Pictured above right from case 64 was this Slava Tulupov sculpture titled "The Balance". This carving featured a smoky quartz shell adorned with 24K gold and diamond. The Mojave blue chalcedony snail with diamond eyes set in 18K gold was slinking along rather slowly on an obsidian base with 18K gold accouterments. This piece's dimensions were given on its label as 59 x 59 x 63 mm and its weight as 595 carats and was identified as a 1998 winner of AGTA's "Cutting Edge" award. Check out this image depicting another view of "The Balance" shown together with other snail pieces created by Slava Tulupov.

As a faceter I found the design of the rather large exhibition topaz gemstone to be of interest. This stone was approximately 3" overall and according to its label it weighs in at 2750 carats. It was cut by Dr. Artmura Kirk who donated this gem to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The rough this stone was cut from was a heat treated white topaz that came from a locality about 100 kilometers from Teofilo Otoni, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The cut was intriguing and combined with the large size of this exhibition gemstone it gave one the impression of looking into a blue geode.

Featured below is a bola tie round-up, Tucson style, featuring 18 really great bola ties on display at the Main Event that were made by Tucson's Chuck Peters and Tucson snowbirds Ralph and Betty Giehls.

Displayed in case 80 were the Kachina and owl bolas pictured at right along with the next six bolas depicted below, all of which are the handiwork of our Old Pueblo Lapidary Club president/instructor Chuck Peters. Chuck fashioned these bolas using channel inlay and overlay techniques using materials including turquoise, red coral, mother of pearl, abalone shell, jet, Biggs jasper, petrified palm wood, rhodonite, rhyolite and others. I thought the materials and eye detail made this owl design particularly effective and eye catching.

I think Chuck's selection and use of materials is creative and his technique and results are quite fine. Chuck has previously instructed a silver inlay class for Old Pueblo Lapidary Club members and I hope he offers one in the future that I can attend after I get in a little more prerequisite practice and torch time on basic silver work and construction techniques.

Eagle Kachina and ram bolas by OPLC president Chuck Peters. I thought the selection of materials for this ram bola worked particularly well.

Owl, buffalo and firebird bolas by pres Chuck Peters.

Hey, check out this cool raccoon bola by Chuck!

You can be sure there is a great deal of practice and experience involved in mastering the cut-to-fit techniques employed in creating the tight inlay that characterizes Chuck's work. I've already got the silver stock, solder and some suitable rough to do inlay bolas. All I need to acquire now to make some fine bolas like Chuck's for myself is his patience and skill...

Old Pueblo Lapidary Club

By the way, if you are a Tucson area local or snowbird, you are most welcome to join in all this fun and education with us!

Tucson's Old Pueblo Lapidary Club was organized in 1970 with the aims and purposes of increasing and disseminating knowledge of the lapidary arts and skills, fostering study and increasing knowledge in related areas such as mineralogy, earth sciences, metallurgy, creative design, base and precious metal working, enameling and engraving.

Today the Old Pueblo Lapidary Club serves approximately two hundred members with extensive club owned facilities, shops, equipment, classes, meetings, programs, library, field trips and the club's newsletter, Cutting Remarks. OPLC is a member of the Rocky Mountain Federation of Mineralogical Societies and the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies.

Old Pueblo Lapidary Club, Inc. 3118 N. Dale Avenue, Tucson AZ 85712 Phone: (520) 323-9154 Email: Rob Kulakofsky rob@facetingmachines.com.

Two other masters of silver inlay bolas are Tucson snowbirds Ralph and Betty Giehls who migrate to Lebanon, Ohio during the summer months. I admired numerous examples of their inlay work in case 86 at the Main Event this year. I thought the mother of pearl bass bola shown above left to be really top notch as it displayed a shimmering iridescence as your perspective changed which was very similar to that displayed by a beautiful fish jumping out of the water, and I thought the doe with fawn bola pictured above right was novel and whimsical.

Shown above are an unusual pheasant motif bola and an elaborate Rainbow Kachina bola in the classic Zuni style from Ralph and Betty's case.

Above are eagle and thunderbird bolas and I'm pretty sure that's Mr. Ed featured on the bola shown above right, all three also from the Giehls' case.

Above is a ram bola and another thunderbird bola and below is a unique sailfish bola, also all displayed in Ralph and Betty's case. I also liked the selection of materials for this ram bola.

Thanks to Chuck and Ralph and Betty! I may not have the silversmith and lapidary skills to make inlay bolas like yours yet but I'm working on that, and in the meanwhile your displays of silver inlay work and bolas at the Main Event have given me inspiration and some interesting bola ideas to mull over.

Now for something really different, check out that horned toad with quartz crystal bola shown on the far left! The two bolas pictured here are the handiwork of Dee Williams, another Tucson smith and lapidary who displayed them in case 91.

I also appreciated the design of Dee's clock like bola, which was bejeweled with small cabs and incorporates tiny rivets in an ornamental fashion. I think the visual contrast provided by the cabs and rivets makes for interesting detail and does a good job of demonstrating that bigger is not always better. You can browse Dee's Dreams in Gold web site for several more examples of her unique work.

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