H&N Regional Editor

    Classic rock, really old stuff that predates The Grateful Dead and even Bill Haley and the Comets, will tumble and roll at the Klamath County Fairgrounds this weekend.

    The classic rock featured at the Rock and Arrowhead Club of Klamath Falls 24th annual show will include thundereggs, geodes and fossils. Theme for the Saturday and Sunday gathering is “The Many Surprises of Thundereggs and Geodes.”

Displays, demonstrations

    More than 40 Northwest dealers and lapidary demonstrators will have 30 display cases showcasing mineral and fossil specimens from North America and around the world, according to Jennifer Zimmerlee, club president.

    People will be able to view everything from fine jewelry, to jewelry making/craft supplies along with gemstone bead strands of every description. Offered, too, will be slabs, cabochons, an array of rare and intriguing minerals, geodes and the featured thundereggs, the Oregon State Rock.

    Children’s activities are also planned, including a Wheel of Fortune, treasure hunts, a toddler treasure sandbox and, for all ages, a fluorescent mineral display, rock table, raffle and door prizes, and a variety of demonstrations.

    Among the demonstrators will be Chuck Newnham, who always draws crowds curious to see his machines that transform irregular shaped rocks to spheres, some the size of baseballs, others as large as volleyballs.

    Newnham already knows the question and comment he’ll hear most often: “How do you make a rock round?” and, “That’s how you do it.”

    The 41-year-old Newnham got into rockhounding in 1995, after moving back to Klamath Falls from Ohio. He and his father, Ken, 61, own and operate the Juniper Ridge Opal mine near Bly. They’ve been featured in the Lapidary Journal magazine and the Discovery Channel television show, “Cash and Treasure.”

    “It’s more of a hobby than anything,” he says of crafting spheres, cabochons and other items from a dazzling variety of rocks. “You don’t really make a living off it. I would love it if I could.”

    A carpenter, he says the building slowdown has left him unemployed so he’s investing more time in creating spheres and other items that he’ll be exhibiting at rock shows, including future events in Medford and Grants Pass. He’s made about 500 spheres that he hopes to sell, trade or barter. Depending on the size, each takes 20 to 30 hours to make.

    “I really enjoy the people at the shows. That’s the big thing about it, meeting and making good friends.”

    This year’s show will be special for Newnham because his son, Devlin, 8, will present his first-ever rock display — “He’s a rockhound fool,” Newnham boasts.

    Like father, like son. And like grandfather, like grandson.

If you go:

    The Rock and Arrowhead Club of Klamath Falls will present “The Many Surprises of Thundereggs and Geodes” Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Klamath County Fairgrounds. A $1 donation is requested for people age 13 and older.

    The show nearly doubled the attendance from about 1,500 in 2008 to 3,300 last year, largely because of increased publicity generated by a Klamath County tourism grant. Along with regional rockhounds, the show draws large interest from people in Reno, the San Francisco Bay area, Washington and, last year, Jasper, Texas.

Demonstrations featured at the show:

    Several demonstrators will show facets of working with rocks and gems at this weekend’s 24th annual show presented by the Rock and Arrowhead Club of Klamath Falls. Demonstrations include: gemology by Mark Kochevar; flintknapping by Jerry Barrett; silver smithing by Garwin Carlson; painting on rock slabs by Lois Brant-Phillips and Nicky Biehn; wire wrapping by Pat Bennett and Robert Watson-Gresham; thunderegg cutting by Gene and Doris Newnham; sphere making by Chuck Newnham; chain jewelry by Charlie Wyckoff; soap stone carving by Bob and Mary McBroome; black light display by Garwin Carlson; faceting by Bernie Paris; beading by Lily Kurusz and Hope Piper; copper enameling by Evelyn Brennan; gold panning and prospecting by the Klamath Prospecting Club; and bonseki — miniature rock landscaping design — by  Herb Bastuscheck.

The art of bonseki — what is it?

    What is bonseki? Bonseki means tray-stone and is the creation of miniature landscapes on rectangular or oval black lacquer trays about the size of a TV tray. The scenes are three-dimensional paintings using stones, rocks and as many as nine types of grains of sand to fill in the details.

    Bonseki was a widespread practice that has dwindled into an endangered art form. Herb Bastuscheck will demonstrate bonseki at the show and at the club’s monthly meeting, 7 p.m. Monday at the Klamath County Museum.