Rockhounds and Relics Trading Co. fills the need of lapidartists, by supplying affordable cabbing rough/slabs that the artist can touch, feel and see for themselves. The pieces that will allow them to make their next works of art.
Many artists need to hear the “voice” of, and rely on the synergy of, the medium they are working with to dictate the art in which they will create. This is done by touching and feeling, and not as much by relying on photos.
Spending the last few summers hiking, fishing, and rockhounding while her husband was out of town working in TX, she began frequenting small art galleries and rock shops in the mountains. She had never been an artist (though her sister always has been), but developed an affinity for wire sculpting. A few geodes and a couple of spools of wire later, she found herself getting a business license so that she could sell her artwork at festivals, with the first one being “Rockfest” at Tellus Museum in Cartersville, GA. Within a few festivals, her craft had again evolved. She began selling prints of her nature photography, mixed media art, and then jewelry. At these shows, she paid attention to what was selling, and what was not (her less expensive jewelry typically sold over the more expensive wire sculptures). She began customizing/personalizing many of her creations, where appropriate. At these shows/festivals, she made many important contacts for materials & supplies, and garnered many ideas.
In October, Ms. Willard exhibited at The Apple Festival in Ellijay, GA. She met a few lapidartists, and jewelry makers, one of which gave her a lead for someone looking to sell a large amount of rock – 11,000-12,000 lbs. She decided that even though it was a LOT of rock, she had to go and see it for herself.
She travelled to the GA mountains, in search of a man who’d owned storage buildings for almost as long as she’d been alive, and wanted to sell her antiques, collectibles, furniture, and everything else under the sun. After being overwhelmed by so many items and a long visit, she decided she needed to head for the hills for some therapy - rockhounding. She was led to drive up Russell Scenic Highway from Blairsville toward Cleveland. During intermittent wifi interruptions & a few stops for digging, she attempted googling “Blairsville rockhounding locations”, “Vogel State Park rockhounding locations”, and before she knew it was at the end of the road. “Turn left for Helen. Right for Cleveland.” They started toward Cleveland, but the GPS turned them around. At the same time, the wifi popped up and she googled “Cleveland Rockhounding”. A personal blog about a rock shop owned by an old man popped up, but it was back the other way – the way they’d been heading in the first place. And though it was already 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon, they decided to try their luck to see if the shop was open. Ironically, this turned out to be the same shop that a vendor at a local festival had told her about several weeks before.
When she walked into the store, she was more overwhelmed than she’d been her entire life. There were so many things that she loved; so many unique things. So many things that she’d seen in her travels, in the rock shops and rock shows in CO, some of which she’d recently purchased during trips to CO – to specifically purchase those things. And her mind went wild. It was love at first sight – with the things inside the shop as well as the old man. He was a 3 time war veteran (WWII, Korea, Vietnam), who was a tax accountant/rockhound. It had to have been destiny. The things that kept adding up were just too ironic to be mere coincidence. This twist in fate, several times, was just the push (or sign) she needed. She knew what she wanted to do. She knew what she had to do.
As the old man tried to sell her on opals (already kindred spirits through accountants-turned-rockhounds, they were also both self-proclaimed “opal-holics), and crystals, she told him that she didn’t want just those. She wanted EVERYTHING.
After talking through it with her husband for several days, doing some research, and finding an available space, she decided that she knew what she wanted/needed to do. She was more than confident that she could make this work, and they began a renovation on their house to build an attached lapidary workshop/storage room, as they knew they would now need all the space they could get. After all, the empty space in their garage, tool shed, and newly obtained store (together) could not house the amount of inventory they’d just purchased, unless it stayed in boxes.
And that brings us to today.