By Erin Dana Balzrette
It is only recently that I have been fortunate enough to get to know Laura Hiser. She is an outstanding artist, as well as endlessly positive and upbeat. I am grateful for the chance to get to know her and hear stories about her wonderful dog, Buddy. Sit back and enjoy learning more about this talented and inspiring artist and person.
Erin Dana Balzrette: Where is this material from, and what drew you to it?
Laura Hiser: Bou Hamza agate from Morocco. The striking colors that seem to "splash" together are just amazing to me. I have had Moroccan stone before, but once I acquired the Bou Hamza, I became obsessed with its unusual beauty.
EDB: How long have you been a rockhound and lapidary artist, and what attracted you to cabbing?
LH: I was introduced to rocks by a family friend just over seven years ago. His garage was and still is bursting at the seams with rocks and fossils sort of like a "Rock Awesome Land." I have been rockhounding and collecting since his introduction.
Initially, I was drawn more to collecting/buying/trading rough stone because I thought you needed special training to make cabs. But after going through Facebook with a friend and looking at all of the wonderful cabs, I decided it was time to try. I started cabbing on an old machine I bought for $50 years ago. I am still truly amazed at the beauty that can be made from something we dig out of the ground.
EDB: What creative process do you use when creating cabs? Is there any special technique used when creating the ones featured today?
LH: It is certainly an ongoing process for me. I don't think I have a consistent way of creating. I learn from each cab I make and also by watching and looking at work done by all of the amazing cabers out there. I have learned to look for that "One Great Cab." So if I only get one cab out of a large slab that's fine, as long as it is a superior creation.
EDB: What is a new cabbing approach that is bringing you great excitement?
LH: I recently saw a good friend post a "double-domed" cab. That will be my next cabbing adventure.
EDB: What advice you would like to give new lapidary artists?
LH: Don't overthink it. Just get out there and try! I have talked with a lot of people who say they would love to cab but just can't afford to get into it. And yes, a new cabbing machine with upgraded wheels, etc can be an overwhelming cost. But used equipment is out there and always available. Again, I bought my cabbing machine for $50 and put on some used wheels. While I have upgraded the wheels over time, it is still the machine I use today. Anyone can do this. You just have to try.
EDB: What is your motivation to create, and your favorite part of the process?
LH: I think because I have such a love for rocks, the chance to create a beautiful gem piece out of one is my motivation. I also love showing them off and getting feedback. The feedback is both positive support and constructive, but it drives me to keep getting better. My favorite part is sitting in the evening with a slab, template, and a sharpie and deciding how to get the best cab out of each slab.
WHERE TO FIND LAURA
Facebook Groups: Cabs and Slabs
Author: Erin Dana Balzrette