VGMS members enjoy many benefits, including an annual gem show, field trips, lapidary instruction and use of equipment, monthly newsletter, museum, extensive library, social events, youth programs, and of course, camaraderie. To become a member, visit our Membership pageand fill out the Membership Form at the bottom of the page.
General meetings are held the fourth Wednesday of the month (except November and December – 2nd Wednesday). The public is invited to attend any of our general meetings. We meet either on Zoom or at Ventura’s Poinsettia Pavilion in the Santa Paula Room (3451 Foothill Rd, Ventura, CA 93003) on the 4th Wednesday of every month, except November and December, when we meet on the 2nd Wednesday so as not to interfere with the holidays. Park in either the upper or lower lot, and enjoy an ocean view of Ventura from this hillside venue just below Two Trees.
The VGMS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote popular interest in geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and related subjects. We sponsor lectures, classes, demonstrations, field trips and school visits to further education and interest both within VGMS and the community at large. Our annual gem show exhibits rock, mineral, fossil, and lapidary arts collections in order to share our hobby with the public. Find out more at About the VGMS.
What Our Members Did During Lockdown
What have you been up to since the covid-19 restrictions shut down our activities? Send me text and photos!
Beauty from the Ashes
By Maria Flores & Raul Barraza
As most of you know we lost our home to the Thomas Fire Dragon a few years ago. A few days after the fire we went back and sifted thru the ashes. My wife who enjoyed making jewelry found these beads among the rubble, most melted in her hands or cracked, but the few that had survived were still warm, and as you can see a lot have burnt marks and cracks, the chemical composition was altered due to the high heat and discolored most of them.
She’s kept them in a taped box in her closet for the last few years, and to keep busy during these trying times she pulled the box out and between her tears made these beautiful works of art that you see.
by Gary Leberknight
These pictures are of small stones and a crystal that I’ve made into pendants using wirewrap. They are typical of the things I’ve been making from stones that were used as filler for the tumbler. I’m mostly interested in tumbling flat items, but need a variety of other sizes to complete a load, which is needed to keep the process going. My plan is to offer these to the Pebble Pup program, as possible raffle prizes, etc.
Cabbing and Knapping
by Ron Wise
Returning home from Brenda, Arizona, I have been working on the yard a lot, trimming bushes and pulling weeds. My gardener must have fertilized the weeds. After the show, I started transplanting succulents and cactuses for our next show, if we have one.
While being stuck at home, I have been finishing up old projects that I had given up on and were gathering up dust. These items will be used in the next silent auction.
Also on the time-killing schedule, I have been polishing small rocks for Ways and Means or the Kids’ Booth. I think of them as 15-minute projects.
It’s hard to believe, but I have a few good slabs that need to be converted into cabs. Lately, I have been interested in sagenite and flame agates. I was trying to make up a case of double-sided cabs for the 2021 Fair.
I try to keep up my knapping skills by making a few arrowheads and knives. Bicycling takes a lot of time and takes me tired enough not to think about other small jobs I need to finish.
Resurrecting My Antique Flat Lap
by Jim Brace-Thompson
No longer a boat anchor, my vintage vibratory flat-lap sets to work!
One of my flat-lapping results: a large Brazilian agate. (Dog provided for scale.)
Years and years ago, old-time VGMS member Ray Mesienheimer sold me a boat anchor. Well, it wasn’t really a boat anchor, but it may as well have been! It was a “vintage” vibratory flat lap. Supposedly, you set your rocks with some grit and water in the 20-inch pan, then forget about it while the vibratory action produces a beautiful, smooth polish. Well. The first time I flicked the “on” switch, I heard a little “pop” accompanied by a puff of blue smoke. So, a boat anchor sat in my garage for years. Eventually, John Cook helped me get the motor fixed, but still it sat. Since home quarantine, I’ve decided: Enough sitting! Big rocks that have been decorating the edges of my backyard are now getting polished to go on the Touch Table at next year’s Show Kids’ Booth, and some may well end up on Silent Auction tables. That is, until the day when I again hear a little “pop” with another puff of blue smoke…
A Few Field Trip Spheres
By David Springer
Social distancing and stay at home orders are not a problem with a nicely outfitted garage, some spare time, and a stockpile of rocks representing many popular collecting areas that our club and other sister clubs routinely visit. Full disclaimer, some of these materials I did not self-collect, but rather identified them in fellow rockhound yards and confirmed their provenance before acquiring them and thereafter turning them into polished spheres.
Sphere 1: Greenhorn Mountain rose quartz – collected from this popular field trip location in CA. I procured a 30-lb chunk from fellow rockhound Rob Sankovich’s yard, and I thank him for making the backbreaking hike back from the collecting area to the vehicles. Finished diameter is at 6.0-inches, showing the characteristic white streaks that in some pieces yields an asterism or star pattern. In this piece, I just got the streaks, and some orange hematite staining, but also some nice rosy coloration. I prefer when I can to keep the sphere material as unadulterated as possible (i.e. limited stabilization only, no bleaching, etc.) allowing nature to speak for itself.
Sphere 2: A massive chunk of Lepidolite with clear and smoky quartz and blue beryl (aquamarine). This material came from the Oceanview mine, in Pala, CA. Our club has headed down to this area regularly in late summer to sift through the dirt pile looking for tourmalines and such. Finished diameter is 4.2 inches. This one is fun one to hold and rotate to see the changes – the aquamarine was a surprise as I only saw it after making a few cuts into the rough.
Sphere 3: Silver lace onyx sourced from the Calico Mountains near Barstow, CA. This piece was fun to work with as it contains the classic onyx on matrix with some nice vugs; finished up at a nice 5.5-inch diameter. I am showing the obverse side as well to see the contrast between onyx and matrix. The Barstow field trip is typically scheduled in late spring before it gets too hot. Check with field trip leaders Chuck Borchard or myself to coordinate a potential trip Saturday AM 30 May 2020.
by Nancy Brace-Thompson
I made a sodalite and crystal necklace during lockdown! I’ve wanted to do some beading for quite awhile (since I keep buying beads and putting them in a drawer) and when the lockdown came around, even though I’m still working Monday through Friday, I had time on a weekend to put this necklace together. It was so much creative fun that I’m hoping to do it again and use some more of the beads that are sitting in my drawer.