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Collect gems or rocks? Idaho Falls rock club is holding its annual sale

Living the Wild Life

Living the Wild Life is brought to you by The Healing Sanctuary.

The habit of collecting rocks can become an obsession for some and what do you do with all the rocks you collect, purchase, or need to get out of the house?

You join a rock club and sell your excess items at its annual membership sale.

The Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral Society (IFGMS) will be holding their Annual Members Rock, Gem and Jewelry Sale, Saturday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public is invited to come to that sale at the Bonneville County Fairgrounds, south of Sandy Downs Racetrack on Woodruff Avenue.

There will be a $3.00 admission for entry and children under the age of 12 are free. Attendees at the sale will find gemstones, finished jewelry, rough and polished rocks, minerals and fossils as well as handcrafted and artisan items to purchase.

You will find people hooked on rocks, a strange bunch with more tales than fishermen, with a hunger for adventure and always looking for the strangest and most exotic rocks. One rockhound compared sawing open a rock with opening a surprise present on Christmas morning – it might be coal or an unbelievable keepsake.

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An unfinished point made from green obsidian that Wendell Lowry is working on.| Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

This last Thursday, I was invited to attend a group of flint knappers called “Your Friendly Local Flint Knapper,” men and women who make knives, arrowheads, spear points and other tools out of obsidian or other rocks that can be chipped. Former president of the IFGMS, Terry Ryan, invited me to watch the gathering of knappers as they worked on their projects.

“Most of our group is not available to come tonight,” Ryan told me when I showed up. “It is hunting season and most of them are out in the woods trying to harvest some meat.”

Wendell Lowry, “one of the top knappers around,” was working on a point about three inches long out of Green obsidian. “This obsidian comes from the Glass Buttes of Oregon,” he said as he showed me the beautiful point. “Most of our obsidian around here has too many impurities in it to chip out these beautiful pieces.”

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A finished mahogany obsidian knife made by Terry Ryan that may be on sale at the IFGMS membership sale on Oct. 8. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

Lowry picked up a new formed piece of white material to work on as the “newby,” of the group, Floyd Scott, was working on a knife blade of mahogany obsidian. “I have only been knapping for about a year, but I really enjoy it,” he told me. “You have to be careful as two things are guaranteed to happen; blood will be drawn and you will break a rock. The shards are sharper than surgical steel and will get you if you are not careful.”

A mat made up of four layers of leather is placed on their laps to protect the knappers from getting injured with the flying pieces of nature’s glass. They all use the “pressure flaking” method by using an “Ishi” stick with a sharpened copper rod to chip the stones into usable tools.

Another master knapper, Tom Strong, showed up and I noticed that he did not use a leather mat, but only his hands covered with a piece of leather. Each knapper had their own style of knapping while working on their pieces.

Of the group, Ryan will be the only one selling at the member’s sale on Nov. 8. She will have beautiful knives with wooden/rawhide handles as well as baskets she has weaved. “I am always looking for new rocks and wood to use,” she said.

At the sale, there will be a demonstration from Lion Punch Forge on the use of Peptools as well as other things for rock enthusiasts. As you attend you will notice that each of the rockhounds will have different things and will be using different methods in producing what they are selling.

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Wendell Lowry forming an arrowhead using the pressure flaking technique out of a stone. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
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erry Ryan working on a point at the gathering of the “Your Friendly Local Flint Knappers” last Thursday evening. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
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