Studio Notes: The warm days of rock hunting

Sigh. Summer is over, even though it won’t officially end until September 22. But the Labor Day weekend is usually the signal to get serious again about winterizing up here in Northern Michigan.

I will miss this summer badly, because warm weather is always so perfect for rock hunting. In water.

Studio Notes: All Summer in a Day -- Rock Hunting, Too

One highlight here is the Petoskey Stone Festival May 27 along the shores of Lake Michigan in Eastport. On a flat calm day, I find Jessica Babb hunting for these buff-colored stones. Her mom, sister, nieces and nephew crowd around her, and laud her as the finest hunter in the world.

The Charlevoix woman says a lot in a few words and quietly goes into an eagle-eyed crouch. She is looking for subtle variations in the shallows. A CNA in private, in-home health care, she finds the pastime a great stress reducer. She’s collected thousands of pieces and often turns them over to jewelers or gives them to friends. The soft, fossilized coral is easily cut and polished, revealing a surface of dark eyes in six-sided cells.

Although this particular beach is well picked over during the festival, she persists and eventually offers me a wet stone as a gift. “I totally lose myself in it. It’s like meditating,” she says.


Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. Her story on Colorado diamonds appears in the September-October issue and she will be writing about her experience in Kate Wolf’s class in 2018 along with her grant writing adventures as a silversmith. You can reach her at betsylehndorff@gmail.com.

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