By Jim Brace-Thompson
Twelve-year-old Nadine Marshall is a young lady with many facets.
Not only is she a lapidary artist extraordinaire, but she also enjoys playing basketball, cooking, and reading. Her interest in the gemstone hobby started with her grandma. Together, they gathered rocks from an Oregon creek when Nadine was just four years old. Later, her dad took her gold panning, and they found garnets and “flour gold.” These experiences hooked her on the hobby.
Rock Club Opens Doors
Nadine wanted to learn to facet when she joined a rock club at age nine, but the club prohibited children under age 14 from using machinery. So she stuck
to rock hunting while keeping an eye out for opportunities to learn. When the family moved to Washington, they joined Lakeside Gem & Mineral Club (LGMC). There, Nadine found a mentor in Mike Zinski. Mike was willing to teach anyone, regardless of age.
“I wish us grown-ups would stop thinking our young ones are not capable of doing what we do,” says Zinski. “Juniors are the future of our hobby and arts. Saying NO without giving them a try is shameful to me. If they show ability, give them a GO!”
Since December 2018, when Nadine finished her first faceted stone under Mike’s guidance, she’s enjoyed growing and learning more about faceting with Mentor Mike. As of this writing, she’s completed more than 25 faceted gems. With her first stone, she was scared, but Mike showed trust in her skills, thus building her confidence with inspiration and encouragement
Learning Lapidary Arts
Nadine thoroughly enjoys her membership in LGMC. She’s been able to learn about the lapidary arts world and view works completed by other artists. She socializes with members and learns from their experiences. She especially loves how members invest in each other and take time to support one another. For instance, Mentor Mike offers his services free to fellow members. Says Nadine of LGMC, “I am so grateful.”
For other juniors, Nadine urges, “Do everything you can to figure out how to
learn. Set goals for yourself. For example, maybe it’s a new style of cut. When working with natural stones, you’re going to experience frustrating moments and it’s okay to walk away from that stone, start another, then come back to it later when you can look at it with fresh eyes. Find a mentor, listen and glean what you can; find artists online and observe what they’re doing. There’s so much information online than was available when seasoned members were starting.”
For parents who have a child interested in the hobby, Nadine recommends joining a rock club, then finding a mentor to help get started while setting goals, like how many types of stones or designs to complete in the first year. And, if still excited, make a plan for how to save to buy supplies—from rough stones to cut, to books with instructions and designs, to your very own faceting machine. Nadine has been saving babysitting money toward the purchase of a machine. Her dream is to become a master faceter and gemologist.
Inspiration Through Resources
She notes, “I love taking something already pretty and making it shine to its best potential.”
Rock clubs and their members are great resources to help in all this—along with parental support. With the right support and determination, anything is achievable. Nadine has all the fine facets to prove it!
If you know of a junior rockhound you'd like to nominate for a spotlight profile, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.