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Before my show in New York we checked into the gallery checked into it very carefully and there is no one in the country killing and no one at all that we know they could locate. The second largest craft hobby in America today is said to be rock counting with all of its branches of interest. Some of which a gem cutting making jewelry and the collection of gemstone rocks minerals and fossils. This universal hobby has grown to astonishing proportions in the last 25 years and shows signs of even more rapid growth as the need develops for more people to pursue more leisure time activities. Due to the fact that working fewer hours have more days off and get more vacation. Rocks and minerals are specimens of extreme importance to the rock. Most people do not realize the important role rocks and minerals play in everyday living.
For example fluorite used in toothpaste and clothing. This series of programs is designed to give an overall picture of the rock. Offer encouragement to the newcomer in this hobby. And present information of general interest to everyone. All of this will be examined as we explore the world of the rock. Today's programme is intitled. Professional art part one. The narrator is Len fault. Rocks and minerals and gemstones are they capable of expressing a mood when they're in the creative hands of the church. Washington D.C. artist expression is unbelievable to fully appreciate what Mrs. Church has done one would have to see and touch the tabletops and wall hangings in her studio. In this program we have attempted to
capture some of the mood and learn more about these art forms which according to Mrs. Church are not mosaics. No it's not creating a mosaic although I have called them stone mosaics but it isn't because as you know one Mosaic a method of doing it is to build up from it you build up into your design. Now this is just the other way I've taken the stone which Nature did wear you notice on some a beautiful pattern right within the stone and tried to make that the focal point of interest and built down from it. So it's done with a very different while mechanically it's very much like a mosaic but artistically it's quite the opposite. Right now in front of us here is a large table. About to light about six feet long. Yes. Overall shaping a bagatelle. And now Mrs.. Well I imagine it was heavy. Would you
tell me the different types of rocks that are in this table. Yes. Oh my that's a I'll start with the grouping up on top there. Knowledge number of. Several types of petrified wood you see the whites and the Browns they're all in the petrified woods this perfectly beautiful blue is as you're right mixed with Amalekite. That's the green in it. This green is Mera Post site which comes from Post side comes from California an interesting point of it is that you always find merit Post site where there's gold although you don't necessarily find gold where there's murder pro-side I mean but this also comes from California. It's an onyx it's a form of mix now. Onyx comes in many many different forms. You can get it seems to be no family resemblance but they they are there. There are several I guess this is you'll notice around
in this deep deep pink. This looks almost like slabs of bacon or something. This is right across from Argentina in this tumble stone is the same thing you see how different the effect is where it's tumbled where it slabbed at me. This is another form of. Onyx which I mean which had taken four slabs from the same stone and then merge them all together to give that large round effect. Rose quartz Rhyolite tiger eye that comes from Africa has some stones from Utah. Oh and this that comes through looking like a little river is Carnelian. This serpentine large green beautiful shades. You know nature has such beauty and it that sometimes you try you try insofar as possible to let nature take over and do it. You will notice a good deal of turquoise in
this and. I put my glasses on to say oh yes this is Black Jade. You can feel the temperatures of this cold as compared with the next time you see the difference in temperatures. I hands aren't so sensitive but there is one piece I have at the Hadley School for the blind where they feel the textures and the temperatures of the stones. There are other stones that here I've missed but I imagine that's enough. But this is a different type of agate one comes from India another one from. Brazil there are some obsidian up there that look like like SOS It's called the snowflake obsidian which comes from the West if stones come from all over the world. Well now when you make up a design like this do you know how you're going to do it do you draw a picture of it first or anything or do you just just start you know I do this in the same way that I've done an oil painting except the difference here is that when you make
a mistake you can't go over it. When you win these are down I might say they're glued to the jewelry a poxy and it is so strong if I want to pull it out I tear the base. I just can't get it out. So there is no correcting. So what I do in this is my own method and I'm not advocating it for anyone else but I do it is to lay them out and I sometimes it takes weeks or sometimes days just to get the design I work it up like a crossword puzzle. And when I get everything our jigsaw puzzle wrong puzzle when I get everything in place just and they fit much better than you see them here I cut the stones to fit and they're in there. Finally when I am completely satisfied I leave it for about a week and just just let it sit there. I'm glued to the set on there. And when I feel that I have exactly what I want I don't glue it down because then it would look contrived tried it and it loses the spontaneity which is necessary in art and
creativity. So I take it and this is this is a miserable place that I have to do with it. I trust everything off onto the table. And every single piece is all there in one whole heap and then frantically I try to remember what I did and put it back. Well you remember a few little highlights but you cannot it's impossible to get it back the same way. And that's where you work with this nervous energy and get this into the into the piece as it gives it a little life. Then each piece is glued down at that point. How long does it take you to do a table Papiss. I really can't answer that because I don't now. I do about. 15 pieces 15 to 20 pieces that I would show in a year but as you noticed this is a very large sum of small sometimes a small piece takes me as long as a large piece and sometimes I work two pieces simultaneously. That's why it's hard to say how long an individual piece would take sometimes I work and the inspiration comes and goes it
seems to me in nothing flat Other times I'll work for weeks and weeks and can't turn out anything right now when you can do. Putting this back after you've thrown it off. Do you have to put glue over the whole surface are can you do just a little section at a time. I know I have to I work over the whole surface but I work piece by piece because the epoxy won't work over the whole surface you see. Can't put the type in the port you have to put it. Mix it and put it in small areas where you would get hard when yeah that's when I get that you know I have to work at it. Individual stones put the individual stones back in. Oh you put the poxy on the stone down then and on the wood you see it's I might say that this is done if you feel it. You'll see it's done on a three quarter inch plywood. It's an outdoor apply and frequently I use a marine ply I have several that are hanging outdoors and on those I usually put the memory by. I mean you have every end of them. What is this. Is this is brass. Yes I have different types of
framing but this I used brass a great deal. I used. The number for indoors. I've used red wood for outdoors I don't really care for it. I've tried it on several nights. I personally don't care for it because it's just the wood itself Redwood is soft as opposed to the hardness. For example marvelous too soft. I want the real hard stones so that's why the red wood sort of hurts a little. And recently I'm experimenting now and I don't know how well it'll come out but I'm experimenting with the use of copper to see if that will stand up and or outdoors unhelpful work again. I have only done my finished three pieces so that I don't have enough to ready judge yet. Why do you get the stones do you go out and collect them yourself. You know there's a great deal of work in the cutting and the polishing and the working of it and I find it takes so much of my time that it isn't worth while for me unless I have a very top quality
Stone said it really isn't worth my time to spend it on the life of quality. Many stones of mine do you see I couldn't possibly get them so that I find that by going to jam importers you get and I usually like to go personally and select my own stems. Some stones I do buy from lapidary But as you know in the United States but where I want stones from other countries basically get them from the importers. And you say you do the cutting and polishing your sound every bit of it and most of them you'll notice Durani very lightly polished although somewhat more so I want the Del Sheen I don't want this to look too bright. And I want it natural. I want the nature to come out to see if you get it too bright. You will then lose what what was done initially. I mean what nature did to these domes and really it's quite a surprise you go in to see that large one there and looks like just a stone you aside if you saw it and
then you ran by and looked for that figure inside like a slice out of a tree and if you put a fluorescent light on that for us is gold all of streaks for us gold beautiful just beautiful. It's called SEPTA Aria. I guess I didn't tell you about that when I was going through the others. I understand it some of your work has been shown at the United Nations. Yes I was very pleased when I when very huge piece was requested by the United Nations. It was shown at the bridge gallery in New York and at a one man show there and at that show I was asked if I would lend to the United Nations for about three months because they were so fascinated not only in the work as a piece of artwork but the fact that they had stones in it from all over the world. And yet somehow or other they all seemed to get along so well together into one you know peace. So I was very happy to have it there.
Is it still there why is it there just for a short length of time. And it was there for three months of this bar and for three months showing. And then you have some other pieces in museums is that right. Yes I have pieces in a number of museums and I have just finished a show which I was very pleased with I was invited to show at the master the Museum of Art in Massillon Ohio in which they gave me that two major galleries for two months just for my work and it was most successful and I was particularly pleased because they had decided to purchase one in the gallery of the museum itself has decided to purchase a piece. It's in several ways Sam's The work is shown and. In their permanent collections when you show an exhibit like that how many pieces would you have in the exhibit. Say in the Ohio mass and even in the master museum I had approximately 30 pieces most of them were pretty large. We also had a show at Lynchburg Virginia where I had to show around 20
pieces so that there were smaller pieces at the Lynchburg gallery which I had promised about two years before and several pieces were purchased by Leggett's you know a bit like a department stores in the south and they asked me when I went there I had met them I had known about it but they asked me if I would come to see how they were hung and it just looked beautiful in their home. I was just so pleased just so pleased when something gets into a place and it seems to be the right thing. Have you any idea how many of these pieces you've made. Now. Let's talk about this for a moment. What is the smallest size you make and what is the largest. The smallest would be about four inches by five inches or three inches by five just a three by five card let's say.
The largest. Oh my. Probably five foot by 10 foot. I know. No no not 10 foot eight foot because I'm restricted a four foot by eight foot and I've made two unified panels one spoke four foot by eight foot and because I'm restricted by the size of the wood but I've joined them or as you can see over there I've made a cryptic where there are three pieces framed together but on three separate pieces. Notice that tripped that up on the upper left there. Oh that's a little different. A rather recent variation on it in which I've used not only the Stones but the hand wrought nails and. Other. Rusty old things whatever you might want to call them from the historic bonny house you see
we've in this area the historic houses have been restored. And I saw they were throwing away some of these wonderful handwriting but so I asked the workmen if they would save them for me. And almost every morning I found a little bunch of nails or something sitting outside my studio door as I went in. So then I just went ahead and cleaned them and I'm trying to incorporate them into the work. Now you notice that gives almost a religious aspect and yet it's just a hinge going up which gives the church on the right and on the left you have of the three nails just fell into a Christ figure and they just I didn't change the mass away they came. And I noticed that that was the first thing I thought when updated. That's why I put it into the form of the cryptic in there so that sometimes you join things together. I have several pairs which I've done many of my works are not here I can't show them they're on exhibit but there are several that are in
form of pairs now for example at that well actually the Art Gallery of Cape Cod chose to work during the summer months. You have table taps and hanging's whatever. Type. Of. Thing would you have in addition to the table in one. At the museum I had one piece which is now down in my studio but it's hanging on the wall but at the museum Opus put it up on a lazy susan as a turnabout. On a sculpture a sculpture stand and you could just swing it and turn it and the other parts within it full swing I'll show it to you later. But. But that's about all I would say. Basically that photo evolves more than anything else and the reason I have them is tabletops is that I don't have enough wall space. They come in handy to get there. It makes a very strong table.
Oh you can't hurt it because you can spill coffee on it and forget it for a while and just wipe it dried up or spill anything. Nothing can break it will break your glasses before it will break. You can drop anything on it they're hard stones enough and you cannot hear it. Once it's there it's finished so it will never be harmed. And cleaning is so easy you just put it away and use a regular printer to polish the fuse on anything else and just clean it off. That's why the tables look much brighter than the pieces on the wall because they're constantly cleaned with the wall pieces aren't. What do you do a lot of people do this sort of thing or are you the only one. No. Before my show in New York we checked into the gallery checked into it very carefully and there is no one in the country doing it. No one at all that we know they could locate. Now there are people. Especially around Oregon in California who are working with stones in which they take specimen stones
and put them into two plastic and show them. But they have turned out a very interesting piece from the standpoint of specimen stones but not from the arts standpoint you see what I've tried to do is bring the message in each piece which is. And I have talked at a museum in mass one oh I talked about half a dozen different museums to that membership trying to instruct people I've shown them I thought Smithsonian too. But to my knowledge others have done something but nobody has done it professionally to my knowledge. That's something I think we should bring out too is the fact that this surface this is not. Smooth. You know you have the rocks and the Stones. Protruding. Yes that relates to a certain extent to my painting because in painting and if you're noticed the paintings they have are rough textured and that's because that
partly is the reason I got into this. Not exactly but partly. Because I would grind my own hands and say I was experiment and it meant a great deal. I grind my own paints I get the stones and grind them and work on them to get these textures mixed them with all types of oils. And there then I decided one day why should I wreck this beautiful stone I came across a beautiful piece of law office that I was grinding and I thought what made you did so much more than I ever could do with it. Why not use the stone as Nature gave it not try to wreck it by putting it into my work and initially when I started it did look. Well I took some stones and they basically looked like a pile of rocks they were nothing and I had done mosaics so I pulled them out with mosaics mosaics and I said easy equip them with the floor but pray you make it. You can do almost anything you want with them so that I would always pull it out and then I switched into stained glass and I'd work that and every
time I realized that I was trying to use the stone but I was using these other things as a crutch. And it took me almost a year in which I turned out absolutely nothing before I was satisfied that I had turned out a piece that said something instead of just technically. I can't think of a word now. A mechanical piece that's what it that way. So if working in rocks I was determined and now as you noticed I won't use any of these of things they are strictly the stone except now I'm starting and with this. With the nails which may progress into something I've done several I've done it now for a little over a year. It may progress into something it may not I don't know at this point I have to work them out before I realize I have to live with things quite a long time before I realized whether or not it's not it has anything what would you recommend it. Young rock hands who are going around collecting this downs and power and
cutting them. Would you recommend that they attempt to do this. Yes I definitely would in fact there is one living right here at Harvard Square who I have shown precisely how to do this and I help them by giving him some he was working with stones that he found and I've given him some of my stones and left in my machine to cut and do some things. I want people to do it because in true artwork I might say that he was quite apologetic at first but said he didn't mean to be copying me. But people have to copy to start just like when you start in painting. You spend most of your time in the museums copying the Masters. I mean I don't put myself in that category but nevertheless that's how you learn is to copy then win. But you never show your copy that's that's not yours that's no there's no creation. Well the same way I want people to do it copy if they want a copy from anybody then try to express themselves it doesn't become art until they have express their own ideas.
But I think it's all for the good and if a rock count can do it and he's the one who's most apt to do it because most artists don't know how to handle the stones I had to learn how to handle the stones. I didn't know anything about it and it's oh it's a hard process of any rock now knows is a hard process to learn. So I had to go through that as an added step. Now the rock count has that much of a jump. If he has any artistic talent he's so much ahead. It's wonderful. How did you learn how to handle a stone. Did you take life you are very experienced trial in there and mostly been there. I did join. I went. I spent a great deal of time at Smithsonian to look over their pieces and at first I was doing work by holding it for the small machine I thought a small machine would do it. And I bought the type of machine that's advertised to do everything in my head. I discovered that it's advertised
through everything but concept it doesn't do anything well so I found you had to get each machine that was right for that particular process. I was very kindly advised by the director of the Smithsonian who had seen what I was trying to do and helped me considerably in suggesting that telling me the types of machines they used over at Smithsonian and I had to send to California for a machine huge machine that was shipped here for my use. But I found that helped tremendously. So it was trial and error plus asking questions of people who knew. As we looked around in Mrs. Church studio we noticed that several of the pieces had titles. One was called Thank You Mr. Hoving. Another was called mood in white. We asked Mrs. Church how she chose these titles. I didn't have difficulty with titles I think to name them and I never name anything until well sometimes when I finish it. It's a natural at other times.
I don't name it until I show the pace. I try to keep a name insofar as possible so that will not influence a view of it because I feel that my experience of my knowledge is not important. That isn't what he should see in the piece. It's his experience that should be brought forth. And so I try for example never to call anything. Like our Washington monument or something of that so I'd let him let the VOA decide I try to make it known loops of name so that it may have something of my feeling but not cry and cry once but be aware because I feel that the view is just as important if this piece doesn't come across to him as he sees it in his language and his experience. It has no meaning for him and he and whatever my experience has been on my knowledge or my appreciation of it has nothing it
is meaningless to someone else. This has been an interview with artist de church in her Washington D.C. studio. As mentioned Mrs. church's art pieces using rocks minerals and gemstones have been exhibited in the United Nations building as well as in many museums throughout the United States. This has been another in the series of programs exploring the world of. The narrator. This series is produced by the service of the public library of Nashville and Davidson County in Nashville Tennessee. Next week we'll discuss the fascinating aspects of this hobby on a program entitled professional art. Part two.
This is Charles Mitchell. This is our national educational radio network.
World of the Rockhound
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
World of the Rockhound is a twenty-four part program about rock collecting produced by WPLN, the service of the public library of Nashville and Davidson County, and Nashville, Tennessee. Episodes focus on topics specific to rock hounding, like collecting, cutting, displaying, and creating artwork from rocks, gemstones, and fossils. The program also discusses broader topics related to geology, like earth science, consumer interests, and professional uses of rocks and minerals.
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Producing Organization: WPLN
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-4-19 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:28:30
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Chicago: “World of the Rockhound; 19,” 1969-04-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “World of the Rockhound; 19.” 1969-04-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: World of the Rockhound; 19. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from