Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wyoming Gem and Mineral Show, Powell, Wyoming

One of Renita’s many hats, is that of entertainment director,(if it were up to me we would probably fish or stay around the fifth wheel and grind rocks). So I was surprised when she found that the Wyoming Gem and Mineral Society was having its annual show at Powell, Wyoming!
We briefly thought about pulling our house,(fifth wheel), there but instead opted to stay camping at Boysen State Park and make it a day trip. Now the distance may seem a lot to you but it was only 300 miles round trip and people that live out west, especially Wyoming, don’t think much about driving that far for a day’s excursion.
So we started towards Powell, taking the short drive to Thermopolis, and then turned up Wyoming 120 to Meeteesee and Cody. From there it was only 30 miles to Powell. The drive was easy and quite nice. The Absoraka Mountains stood to the west and it was kind of fun to realize that Yellowstone was just over those hills.
We didn’t see any wolves or bear as we drove but soon after passing Meeteesee, Heart Mountain dominated the skyline. Now Heart Mountain was the site of a internment camp for Americans of Japanese descent, and as we passed the historical site I saw some of the original buildings used to house the prisoners.
The houses brought back memories as when I spent the summer in Wyoming, during my two months of Geology field camp, the dormitories were actually surplus detention camps from the Heart Mountain site. They were flimsy cheap structures and the mice had no problems invading our shelter and feasting on anything edible. Winter time must have been so hard.
Finally reaching Powell we had to ask the location of the Fairgrounds as it wasn’t on the main road and we found the Gem and Mineral Show after driving all around the perimeter of the Fairgrounds Site.
The very first dealer had a display of Wyoming Jade, but oh my the prices! One piece, had a price of 1800 dollars and I was almost afraid to touch it for fear that it would somehow shatter in my hand! That was a piece of apple green Jeffery City rough and the rock was less then a pound!
Declining the exhortations of the dealer we moved on, where another dealer had more Wyoming Jade, including some apple green Jeffery City jade for about 40 dollars a pound. Thoughts of acquiring some were evaporating from my mind, but at least we were getting to see lots of rough jade.
Edwards Black Jade, pink jade, apple green jade, all Wyoming stones, were pretty common and we did buy several slices, along with some Wyoming snowflake jade. We did actually buy a piece of the apple green jade, spending more that we had planned but we dipped into money from our jewelry sales as we just had to have some for our winter lapidary.
The society had display cases exactly like the ones the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Society uses and so we were able to enjoy the cases, filled with Wyoming treasures. We were both surprised at all the different minerals we didn’t realize could be found here, and so our thoughts were turned to more days and new spots to hunt for rocks.
The club had a silent auction booth and we won several specimens, some bubble gum agate, three fossil mammoth teeth, although they looked more like large cat canines to me, and I narrowly got outbid for some Guernsey agate. A club member was making cabochons and what was really wild is that he was blind and making them from the feel of the stone!
We watched another dealer as she wrapped a cabochon, and while her technique was almost identical to ours her wraps were more elaborate, with swirls of wire finishing the pieces. She gave us lots of advice about tools to buy and she does use a finer gauge wire then we do, so it was really informative.
Probably the biggest difference was that she used 26 gauge round wire for her wraps instead of the half round half hard 21 gauge sterling wire we prefer. It was nice to see a fellow wrapper who makes the complete piece form hand, so many people buy already made cabochons and the quality is usually inferior.
We talked with another couple who fulltime and travel from show to show, and it’s pretty obvious that we need to go to the Tucson and Quartzite winter shows. We really aren’t interested in turning our hobby into a business, we are mainly selling so we can afford more rocks, silver wire and equipment, (we also want to start using gold filled wire but the prices are so high).
The drive back home was uneventful and Renita drove so I could enjoy the scenery. It was a fast trip as there is nothing but the small town of Meeteesee for 100 miles and so we made it back in time for supper and some unwinding before bed. Clear skies.

No comments: