The Maplewood Rock and Gem Club will be hosting a summer show and sale Aug. 12 and 13 that displays various artwork made from rocks and gems. The event will also showcase the types of rocks — including fossils and crystals — that are found in Washington and other parts of the world.
In addition, rockhounds will have an opportunity to handle, cut and learn about the different types of rocks.
“We do run a full lapidary shop that allows members the opportunity to learn how to take raw rock and cut it, slab it, see what’s inside,” said Club President Michele McGraw. “It’s a surprise. You can have something completely raw and foreign on the outside, and you cut it open and it’s got crystals or colors inside of it, depending on how the rock formed. That element is exciting and fun.”
The club will host a demonstration to educate the community about what the rock club offers. McGraw said that there will be more than 20 vendors at the event along with a “cantina-themed” food truck.
“There are members who are interested in taking it to the next step where once they have it cut into a slab, they will cut it into shapes and use it to make jewelry,” said McGraw. “We have a cabochon wheel in the lapidary to make pendants, rings, earrings and other jewelry. Some people get into polishing. We have trim saws that they can use to cut it to the shape they want it to be. All the blades are diamond-embedded so they can through the various thickness and hardness of the rock.”
Founded in 1951, the Maplewood Rock and Gem Club started out as a community hub where people from different backgrounds gather and socialize. It is part of the Washington State Mineral Council, where each club teaches its community how to be stewards of their environment. Members learn about responsible rockhounding practices and how to avoid tampering with the earth, such as uprooting trees and other plants.
“[The Earth] is the foundation that we walk on,” said McGraw. “We keep our Earth alive by understanding the formation of how we’ve created what’s underneath us. There are a lot of people that spend a lot of time looking for [certain] rocks.”
Many club members have been looking forward to the return of in-person activities since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The club had canceled the 2020 show and sale, but many vendors and rockhounds were able to sell their work from outside of their home. In 2021, members resumed the regular shows at the club outdoors.
“The summer 2021 show was the first event they’d had for a long while,” said McGraw. “With many older members, this club worked very hard to stay healthy during the period of lockdown.” That was a big pause for a club that usually meets monthly, has weekly signups for the lapidary shop, and offers field trips and a Juniors club, she said.
The Maplewood Rock and Gem Club is located at 8802 196th St. S.W. in Edmonds. Vending booths and rock-cutting demonstrations will be held inside the club building and outside.
“Coming back together as a club was super, super exciting,” said McGraw. “Maplewood club is a social conduit for many older members, and members range from children to those who were original members.
“There’s a lot of intergenerational learning that goes on, whether it’s sharing resources or knowledge,” she added. “I think that’s valuable to any bones of a community.”
— Story and photos by Nick Ng