Thursday, January 8, 2009

Down to Earth

Do all of the employees at your local bead store know you by name? Have you already memorized the stock of your favorite on-line bead and jewelry component store? (Or is is just me that gets this obsessed with finding new beads (how embarrassing)? If so, feel free to stop reading.) Are you looking to experience the thrill of the chase, the lure of the hunt all over again? Well, have you considered visiting your local rock shop?

Okay, I'm a little worried that I'm stating the obvious here, but I have a tendency to overlook this option myself, which is weird, given how much stone I tend to use in my designs. Each time I visit my (somewhat) local rock shop I think, "Why don't I come here more often?"

I was actually a bit of a rock hound as a child. When I was a tot, I had a friend whose father was an enthusiast, and he took us on a collecting expedition one weekend. As a result of this, by the time I was 4 (no kidding), I could more or less identify bits of fluorite, quartz, rose quartz, obsidian, amethyst, mica, iron pyrite and galena and owned a small collection of same (which is still somewhere in my folks' garage). Whenever we went on vacation, we always had to visit the local rock shops and/or natural history museum. I eventually turned to other hobbies as I grew older, but I think it's likely that I'm drawn to stone now for jewelry design due to this early interest.

Anyway, I and the family ended up visiting Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop over the holidays and, once again, it was a great trip. Among other things, I picked up a beautiful, small pyritized ammonite and a couple fossilized sea urchins (see above) to add to my collection of treasure from that store (other items include natural, raspberry-colored druzy quartz, slices of amethyst with agate and dendritic quartz). Now, none of these pieces are actually drilled, as I plan to set them in silver at some point or other during the next, oh, decade, but Dave's, like most rock shops I've encountered nowadays, also sells a plentiful amount of interesting drilled stone and strands of stone beads. (For one thing, I drooled over one of the most gorgeous strands of turquoise I have ever seen during this most recent visit, but as it was $300+, it stayed in the store. I hasten to add that not all of the strands were this pricey - I found plenty of modestly priced stone there, too.)

The local rock shop is an interesting venue for the younger members of your family, as well. Of course, if you have a dinosaur enthusiast in the family, it's a great place to find real fossilized dinosaur bone (teeth are popular), fossilized dinosaur eggs, or dinosaur coprolites (fossilized excrement to you and me - particularly popular with a certain age group, I'd imagine. They do make beads from this stuff, too, by the way). The Short One, for his part, came away with a few small pieces of agate. I think we will hencefoth limit the SO to one small polished rock per visit, but he could amass an interesting - and educational - collection pretty quickly.

So if you are looking for a new place to visit for interesting beads and jewelry components and haven't yet investigated your local rock shop or haven't visited for a while, I highly recommend a trip. Chances are, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for visiting!


barbe said...

I use to be a big rockhound too, in Ohio. Sadly the only rock/mineral store in SF closed during the Boom (sound familiar, sigh....) so there isn't any I can get too now.

Very sad. I love digging around all those boxes of rocks and talk to the guys about doing lapidary work.

Christina J. said...

Oh, I love Dave's Rock Shop! We used to go there a lot when I was a kid. We spent a lot of time in Evanston when I was a kid. One place we ate at all the time was the Blind Faith Cafe (have you been?), in it's old location, not as fancy as it is now. Oh, the memories.

Melissa J. Lee said...

Hi Barbe, I know what you mean - the way the stock is stored in the partitioned boxes is particularly inviting, too, don't you think? Going through them is like digging for treasure.

Christina, I love the Blind Faith Cafe! My then-boyfriend (now H.) was a vegetarian back then (we started preparing meat at home, once the SO started eating solid food), and we went to Blind Faith often. Their lemon seitan entree is to die for. Yum.

Christina J. said...

It was so different when I was a kid. You could write on the walls and you had to go up to the counter to pick up your order. I used to have friends in Evanston, so we'd go sometimes, but they moved away. I haven't been to Blind Faith in years. I should go.

Melissa J. Lee said...

The food is still great, even if it is more upmarket decor-wise these days. Although, I must admit, we passed up Blind Faith for Lucky Platter for this trip.