Quartz Crystal Box by Linda Starr
Perhaps you recall when we were traveling in New Mexico and went to the White Sands National Monument. At the time I was inspired to make some pots incorporating rocks or gemstones. Years ago rock shops lined the Southwestern highways and there was many a fossil and gemstone to be found.
Antler, Two As One by Linda Starr
This time traveling across the Southwest we could find nary a rock store along the way. The more I looked the more frustrated I became; I felt I just had to utilize some precious stones in my work. I'd almost given up hope the day we left Las Cruces on a day trip to the White Sands. After visiting the monument, we decided to drive a little further northeast to Alamogordo in hopes of finding a rockhound along the way.
Papoose Jar by Linda Starr
As we drove through the outskirts of town, we could see the economy had taken it's toll. There were boarded up businesses and homes along the way. But we pushed on, my quest for the rocks I desired was all encompassing. I knew if I didn't find some stones that day we'd soon be out of the southwest, and that would be my last chance to find what I wanted.
Ammonite Vessel by Linda Starr
While driving along I spied a chain link enclosure in front of a boarded up motel with some dilapidated tables with what looked like rocks on them. I said, "Look, look, there's some rocks". Gary said, "That's not a rock yard, and besides it's abandoned, we can't go in there". I said, "Please let's just stop and see". Gary said, "We'll stop on our way back from town, if you don't find a rock store". I made a mental note of where the chain link enclosure was located. I thought to myself, Gary probably thinks I'll forget where this is. We drove a few miles further into Alamogordo and found nothing other than the usual grocery and a few shops, no rock shops or stands anywhere.
Gunmetal and Turquoise Basket by Linda Starr
We started back to our campground in Las Cruces and I kept my eye out for the place I was sure was a rock yard waiting for me. As we came upon the place, I told Gary to pull over and again Gary said, "That's not a rock place, it's abandoned". I said, "Then why does it have a chain link fence around it to protect it?" Anyway Gary waited in the car feeling sure I was on another wild goose chase and I got out to inspect a little further. I walked up to the fence and saw there were all kinds of rocks, polished gemstones, and fossils, just what I was looking for. A minute later a dog came running up and behind the dog ambled a wiry and weathered looking man.
Tiger Eye Vase by Linda Starr
Well it was indeed a rock yard and the man opened up the chain link fence and I spent several hours looking at all the gemstones displayed in small plastic bins which were brittle from the sun. I couldn't resist picking up a sample of each polished stone to admire it, thinking of how I could use it with my clay. As I found a particular stone I liked I set it aside in a pile to tally later. Meanwhile the rock man and Gary struck up a conversation because they could see I'd be there for quite a while admiring each stone for the beauty it revealed in it's surface. Another couple drove up in their new SUV and pressed jeans and started looking at the rocks. At one point they picked up one of the rocks in my pile and admired it. I said those are the ones I've picked out for me, so they put the rock down.
Jasper Bowl by Linda Starr
Later I was ready for my pile of rocks to be tallied and I discovered the one rock I liked the most, the one the couple had picked up, was missing. They had long since departed, not purchasing a single rock. The three of us, the rock man, Gary and I, all looked high and low for that rock and it was no where to be found. We later surmised the couple must have pocketed the rock. The man said that happened a lot, rocks went missing. I was incredulous someone would take the rock I had set aside, but devastated they would take a rock from a person who had so little. A person living in a run down trailer with nothing but rocks and a few lapidary tools to their name.
Terra Cotta Turquoise Basket by Linda Starr
My tally came to very little I thought and I asked the rock man his name, and he said Dan. I said, Dan the Rock Man, he said yep that's me. Then I realized I wouldn't know what type of rocks I had when I left. So I got my camera and placed each rock on a piece of paper and Dan told me the name of each rock and where he had gotten the stone, how it was formed, how old it was, and he told me so much more than I had ever known about rocks. Dan's clothes were worn and dirty, and he lived in a run down trailer, but I was truly amazed at the geological knowledge Dan had on the tip of his tongue. I realized Dan had fallen on hard times but he still had has love of rocks and his generosity. I'll never forget Dan, but I hope one day to forget how someone could take something from someone who gave so much for so little in return.
Every so often I dig in my stash of gemstones and make a pot thinking about what I got from Dan, wondering how it can be incorporated into my clay work. There's a little bit of me and a lot of Dan in each piece.