Alisha, John and I just returned from the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. We went to buy opals and fire agates and to find sources for other specialty stones that are not readily available from the main stream gem stone suppliers. It was Alisha’s first experience and it was important that I introduce her to many of my special gem sources in addition to teaching her how to approach to this megalithic show that encompasses much of Tucson; it’s tendrils reaching into every motel room and parking lot along side of Interstate 10, in addition to convention centers and tent sites throughout Tucson. (One would need three to four weeks and considerable stamina to visit all of the venues.)
There are venues that specialize in gem stones and rough mineral material for the lapidarist, others that specialize in fossils, crystals, pearls, oceans of beads, Costco sized tents with buy and sell jewelry, and parking lots overflowing with international imports. One can buy a pair of pliers for a dollar, or a laser printer for $35000.
I’ve shopped this show every couple of years for nearly 20 years and at this point, more or less understand the timing and how to approach the various venues.
Alisha was both overwhelmed and exhilarated by it all but adjusted quickly to the scene and the task at hand. John, who has been to the show 3 or 4 times when he was younger felt completely at home, but looked at the venue through more mature and entrepreneurial eyes. It was a joy to mentor both of my adult children; to watch and advise them with their purchases but to allow them to make their own choices in collecting their special treasures.
We were away for five days with four full days to shop the many shows. John, now a junior at S.F.S.U. is taking chemistry, geology and religion and had a scientific and new age approach to the show. For the most part we stayed together to share our experiences, but at times we split up to cover more territory and to scout out booths that might be of interest to each other.
We laughed and played together and in the evenings over dinner, discussed philosophy, art, design and business.
In addition to being an artist and jeweler, I am a traveler. I have been to the bone carving villages in Ubud, Bali and hope one day to visit Papua New Guinea and see these penis sheaths on live models:)