More than 2,000 visit rock, gem show in Port Angeles
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Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Jim Keffer of Sammamish, left, and Mick Hill of Lacey hold different types of obsidian Sunday at the Vern Burton Center in Port Angeles.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Shiny, sparkly and simply stunning, the stars of the Nature's Treasures Rock, Gem and Jewelry Artisans Show attracted plenty of groupies this weekend at the Vern Burton Community Center.

More than 2,000 visitors attended the show Saturday, and on Sunday, more were arriving.

“Attendance is very good,” said Thomas Ellison, Clallam County Gem and Mineral Society show chairman and master facetier.

However, he said, the money people were spending was down from previous years.

It was similar to statistics at other gem and rock shows in the region, Ellison said.

A raffle for two fist-size emeralds and a set of smaller emerald stones, appraised at more than $150,000, had sold only 100 of the $10 tickets by Sunday morning, he said.

A second raffle of smaller stones and beads was available for $1.

The names of the raffle winners were not available Sunday afternoon.

Funds raised by the raffle will go to provide scholarships for Olympic Peninsula students who choose to study the Earth sciences in college.

More than 30 vendors displayed and sold gems, glass, geodes, carved stone jewelry and artwork of stone or gemstones.

Rock experts and gemologists were on hand to identify visitors' items, and stoneworking demonstrations and lessons were available.

One of the most popular was the Puget Sound Knappers, who had hundreds of pounds of obsidian with them, to demonstrate the technique of flaking chips off stones.

Most of the knappers used modern wood and brass tools, but Harry Oda, associate professor of anthropology from Pierce College, used traditional tools and techniques.

Several youngsters joined the group, using large pieces of discarded obsidian to attempt to create their own arrowheads, knives or figurines.

Much of the obsidian used by Northwest knappers comes from Oregon, said Jim Keffer of Sammamish

“There are places in Oregon where obsidian flowed like rivers,” Keffer said.

Keffer said tribes of the Pacific Northwest used the obsidian to create very sharp tools knives, and arrow and spear points, as well as decorative items.

Some of the points and edges that can be knapped in obsidian are sharper than anything that can be created in metal, he said.

Obsidian, or volcanic glass, isn't just black glass, he said.

Keffer demonstrated that when the clean, smooth interior is exposed and exposed to bright sunlight, it glints gold, silver, burgundy and green.

He displayed varieties that show rainbow colors, and others, when cut thin, reveal lace-like patterns within a nearly clear stone, or striping in a half-dozen colors.

An obsidian formation at Glass Buttes, Ore., produces a unique obsidian called “fire obsidian” that looks like black opal, he said.

Puget Sound Knappers has about 350 members, including expert and beginning knappers.

Membership is free.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

Last modified: October 07. 2012 6:20PM
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