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Gem, mineral and fossil show rocks Buena Vista

Oct 08, 2023

Through sun, rain and wind, the Contin-Tail Gem, Mineral & Fossil show set up shop at the Buena Vista Rodeo Grounds Aug. 10-13. Visitors browsed the gems, minerals, fossils and more from the 120 vendors at the show, some from around the state, others from around the country and still more from beyond, such as Mexico and Ethiopia.

Kristopher Dingfield of Chaotic2Creations has been in the show for about 12 years, taking over the show with his ex-wife Rachel 5 years ago.

“Buena Vista’s beautiful,” he said. “I used to live close to here, and I have mine claims in Lake George. I’m used to doing 14 shows across the Southwest.”

Dingfield has been part of the Gem and Mineral Society for 7 years, teaching members how to use equipment and polish stones. He does some of his own silversmithing and cuts his own cabochons. For some gems, he travels internationally. He digs Colorado minerals himself.

“I started collecting minerals as a 10-year-old kid,” he said. “I was into minerals, horticulture and reptiles, and my mom preferred the minerals to the venomous snakes I was bringing home.”

Contin-Tail provides a chance to show minerals and fossils and offers an opportunity to display personal works of art. Jason Ford of LoveCrafted4D, a third-generation artist based out of Pueblo, recently graduated college with his art degree and was happy to appear at the Contin-Tail show for the first time this year. His work focuses on handmade Native American-style jewelry, spoon rings, custom work and repairs, and he specializes in turquoise and sterling silver. He gets most of his materials from miners and cutters, but he also keeps an eye out for high-quality pieces at various sales.

“Now that I’m getting more established and getting a better budget, I’m trying to buy directly from the miners and cutters themselves,” he said. “That way, I can have the providence of the stone and know the history behind it.”

Ford partnered with fellow mineral enthusiast Ed Pliska, whose wife was Ford’s geology professor in college.

“He’s a pretty prolific miner and craftsman,” Ford said. “He crafts his own display stands. And he’s just a pretty great guy. He gave me the opportunity to come out here and work with him.”

Amanda Racicot of A & K Mineral Supply returned for her second year at the show with Beaute de la Mort. Her display included various animal skulls with gems and minerals affixed to them in addition to minerals.

“We try to go as ethically sourced as possible with the skulls,” Racicot said. “We have a supplier out of Idaho. A lot of the fur trappers out there will waste the bones. He doesn’t believe in that waste, so he’ll scoop them up, get them nice and clean for us and we purchase from him. Sometimes we find them at auctions, such as the black bear (skull).”

Originally from Denver, Racicot has been living in the Buena Vista area for about 6 years now. Her love for oddities and art combine to create her works.

“It’s a long process,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize that with the adhesive, it takes the crystals a long time to stay onto the bone. It’s fun. It combines my love of gems and minerals with the oddities world. I don’t think there are a lot of pretty oddities out there.”

Other vendors illustrated the natural healing uses of their gem and mineral wares. Joining the gem show for her third year, Yahyah Valois of Yahyah’s Embrace demonstrated the use of her singing bowls to customers and explained their effects. Her collection included quartz crystal bowls, made in Huston before the business shut down; and metal and aluminum bowls, some machine-made and some hand-hammered, all purchased from a third-generation sound shaman, Suren Shrestha of Nepal, who has a sound healing business in Boulder.

“Each of (the bowls) has a different note, and it correlates to a different part of the body,” she said. “The purpose of these is to harmonize with the pure notes that our bodies are supposed to be harmonizing with. We have disharmonies in our bodies that create illnesses, depression, things like that, connected to past traumas and belief systems. Using these bowls helps us harmonize with those notes.”

Hailing from Park County, Emerald Orgone vendor Marianna Moore offered handmade creations that utilize crystals and minerals mined from local areas. Orgonite combines crystals with metals that are then set into resin.

“It’s quite the process,” Moore said. “It takes some time, but it’s really fun working with the epoxy resin and working with the stones. We can get creative with it. We also like to do jewelry and make handmade wire wraps with copper wire.”

The resin in orgonite squeezes the quartz crystal to create a piezoelectric charge, meaning each orgonite piece holds active energy inside.

“Using those minerals and the combination of metals and resin, which is basically pure stagnated energy, generates chi or orgone, a bioenergy,” Moore said. “We have this all-permeating universal life force around us all the time. It’s what’s in nature, it’s what’s within us, it’s what makes plants grow. This is just another example of that.”

Just as the visitors to the show enjoyed the various vendors and all they had to offer, Moore enjoyed being stationed at the base of Mt. Princeton.

“The views are just incredible,” she said. “We’re so close to the hot springs. It’s a good time because Gold Rush Days is going on at the same time. It makes it really fun.”

For some such as Phenomenal Gems based out of Nederland, this show is especially important for rockhounds and gem collectors to meet new people and help expose people to a wide variety of gems, minerals and fossils. Phenomenal Gems offers crystals, fossils, polished shapes and more, aiming to have something for everyone.

“It’s really important for minerals to be accessible to everybody,” said Angel Facchin of Phenomenal Gems. “We try to pick our less expensive pieces as carefully as our higher-end pieces. The gem shows like this really demonstrate how wide a variety of people are interested in minerals and maybe getting exposed to it the first time, having the educational side of it and being able to find something that anybody can afford.”

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