As I was growing up in the Northeastern United States steel-making town of Bethlehem , Pennsylvania, I became interested in mining, minerals and the natural world at an early age. My father, who worked for Bethlehem Steel Corporation, brought home some books for me one day, which explained the steel making process. I was fascinated with the idea of iron ore, coal and other minerals from the earth being turned into steel.
There were several caves that had been developed and opened to the public within a few hours drive from our home. Seeing my developing interest in rocks and minerals, my father took me to one in Hellertown. That trip set the hook. Besides the beauty of the cave there were crystals, fossils and minerals of all types and sizes on display and for sale. After that trip I began spending my summer days searching the areas around my home for interesting rocks and fossils to add to my own collection.
As I grew older I drifted away from my rock collections and spent two years in technical college and another four years going through an apprenticeship program to learn a trade I could make a living with. I moved to Miami , Florida , and got a job with a mechanical contractor, but I never lost my love for rocks and minerals.
I went to a Gem Show in West Palm Beach , Florida , where I met a man cutting and polishing Tampa Bay Agatized Coral. I’d never seen this material before. It was beautiful. He said he had about 10,000 pounds of it and wanted to sell it all. I made him an offer and within the next three weeks I was in business cutting and polishing Agatized Coral.
After a few years with the mechanical contractor I left to work for a major airline in Miami . I worked for them for two years in Miami and then transferred to Phoenix , Arizona . Unable to take all the coral I had left with me, I sold it.
Arizona was just more fuel for the mineral and crystal fire within me. Geodes became my new fascination. The rings, waves and other patterns of the solid ones, and the beautiful crystal lined hollows took hold of me like nothing before. I bought a larger capacity diamond saw, lap machine and other polishing equipment to cut and polish these beautiful stones myself. I related the opening of a geode to my days of bottom fishing around South Florida – never knew what you’d caught until you’d brought it up. With Geodes, you never know what’s inside until you open them.
I cut and polished these for quite some time when I began to think how nice it would be to be able to open and then close them again. I began experimenting with different things but wasn’t having much success. I spent countless hours on this only to succeed in ruining some beautiful stones. But I didn’t give up and finally found a metal working process that was very slow and tedious but began to work. I stayed with it and after a lot of fine tuning got it to work to my satisfaction and have since perfected my technique. I’ve developed a hinge system that is functional, clean and durable.
There are a few steps in this hinging process that still must be done with great care and caution. After cutting, grinding and polishing one of these stones I start building up a metal rim around the outer edge of each Geode half. I then have to hand lap each half, on an absolutely flat surface to bring the metal down to a clean, flat surface that will meet its other half with no unevenness when closed. This all must be done without scratching the stone surface that I’ve spent so much time cutting and polishing.
After the hinging I continue the metalwork up and over the top half in a “root” or “vine” pattern which also enables me to accent any interesting features on its outside – like a shell fossil on a Septarian, etc.. Next I’ll add a nice little Boulder Opal, Turquoise Nugget, Quartz Crystal or other little jewel to it for a handle.
Then I turn my attention to the base of the Geode. I now continue working the metal down the stone and flare it out to form a base, which must be heavy enough to keep the finished piece stable, especially when opened. A final polish of the finished metal work and a piece of heavy felt affixed to the bottom of each finished base makes one of these beautiful stones a real treasure for any lover of things natural. I love to see the look on people’s faces as they open up and look into one of these.
As my Geode work progressed I’d also been noticing how other crystals and minerals were being displayed and used. My feelings about the display of Geodes now carried over to these. Again I’d only seen them in cabinets or on shelves, etc., and thought there must be another way to display them. I decided to try lessons learned in my Geode hinging process on a few mineral specimens. It was working well until I tried it on a Quartz crystal. The heat involved proved to be too much for these delicate stones and they continued to crack. I spent a lot of time, and money, and ruined many nice pieces of Quartz, but again, I didn’t give up. There’s a lot to be said for determination and perseverance. I eventually got it to work without destroying the stone.
Another facet of my work is my great love of Fantasy Art and anything to do with the Medieval period. I’d seen some highly detailed pewter figures of Wizards, Castles and Dragons, etc.. Once again the light bulb went off in my head and I began tracking down companies making high quality, fine pewter figures. I obtained catalogs from companies like Gallo, Rawcliffe, Perth Pewter and others. I’d go over these catalogs with a magnifying glass sometimes looking for figures with the greatest detail. I bought a few and worked them into some mineral and crystal specimens and knew I’d found a perfect match. The figures, stones and metal were a natural together. But new problems arose which had to be solved. Like how do I keep the heat involved from destroying the figures?
When you’re trying to develop a process that no one else has, whether it’s in the Arts, Science or Industry, it makes it doubly hard because you haven’t got anyone else to go to for advice or instruction. Your mistakes, and successes, are your own, but if you persevere you will eventually find a way. Failure can be a good teacher.
Over the last 23 years I’ve refined my technique to produce the highest quality sculptures I can. As far as the materials I use in my pieces, I feel that if I’m going to put that much time and effort into one of these, I’m going to use only the best materials and highest quality figures available. I’ve incorporated various types of lights into many of my pieces also, including LED’s, lasers, standard bulbs and fluorescents, magnifying lenses, and a world of crystals and minerals to finish them off.
I’ve entered many Art Shows over this period of time, won many awards and cash prizes, and received innumerable fine compliments from all who’ve seen my pieces. I’ve sold them to people from all over the world, Japan , Hong Kong , Australia , Germany , Sweden , England , Canada and the U.S.A. .
So whether it’s a small Amethyst sphere at the head of a delicate staircase railing, a massive Smoky Quartz Phantom crystal from Brazil , or a beautiful hinged Geode, I’m sure you will enjoy every detail of these pieces. They’re truly a collaboration of man and nature that are a pleasure to view and own. These stones are already millions of years old to begin with so there’s no danger of them “wearing out” as they are handed down from generation to generation, and the Medieval theme is timeless as well. Whether it’s a piece that should be displayed under a bright light to show off its sparkle, or an internally lit piece sitting in a dark room, cabinet or wall niche, they’ll be an excellent one-of-a-kind addition to any collection.
I am also always VERY careful to tell people that I “DO NOT” make the figures I use and that I “DO” buy them through catalogs, etc.. Although, since I started doing this work, some of these companies have gone out of business and their figures are out of production making them very collectible by themselves. Each of my pieces are signed and dated with the year made.
Please have a look through my Gallery and if you are interested in a particular piece and would like some higher quality, more detailed views, contact me and I’d be glad to e-mail you what I have, but also please keep in mind that these are all one-of-a-kind pieces and are not repeatable. Thank you very much for visiting my site.