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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Artist brings rare minerals to masses

  • Some people paint people or landscapes or dogs playing poker. Larry Sawyer paints minerals.
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  • Some people paint people or landscapes or dogs playing poker. Larry Sawyer paints minerals.
    Sawyer’s paintings depict a crystal blazing red and another bubbling orange. The angles of the rock contort into each other like an EM Escher painting and bare wondrous names like mimetite, aquamarine and tourmaline.
    Sawyer, a member of the McPherson Gem and Mineral Club, will display his acrylics of world-class minerals today through Sunday during the McPherson Gem and Mineral Club Sale and Swap at the McPherson 4-H Center.
    Sawyer, 71, retired from the Ellsworth County Sheriff Communications Department, said he has always been a rock hound.
    “It is a big treasure hunt,” he said of rock collecting. “You can find something laying on the ground or in the ground and get money out of it.
    “I like the permanence of rocks. I like the color. There are a lot of unusual shapes, and I like the fact that some are millions of years old and will be around for a long time.”
    In the late ‘70s Sawyerstarted collecting minerals. The lay person may be familiar with quartz crystals or the purple amethyst crystals.
    “Mineral collectors are a little different than rock collectors,” he said. “It is a competitive hobby.”
    Sawyer participated in mineral competitions and exhibited pieces of his collection in the state and region.
    As Sawyer was developing his rock hobby, he also was developing his painting skills. He worked part time painting signs, did reproductions of historical Western photos in oil and painted portraits. Some of his work has been shown in national exhibitions.
    Sawyer began seeing pictures of paintings of minerals in some of his mineral magazines, and a new passion was born.
    The minerals Sawyers paints are all examples from museums and private collections, so this may be the only opportunity the local public has to experience them.
    He uses acrylics to depict the other-wordly surfaces of the minerals. Acrylics dry more quickly than his usual choice of oils and is water resistant, which watercolors are not.
    In addition to his paintings, Sawyer also cuts stones and makes gold and silver jewelry. He has studied gemology, (He thought once he might open a jewelry store), metalsmithing, casting and rendering precious metal clay.
    “It gives me something to do,” he said.
    Sawyer encouraged anyone who is interested in a rock hobby to attend the McPherson club’s meetings.
    The group meets at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at the McPherson Senior Center.
    This is the group’s 21st year for the sale and is the last one of its kind in the area.
    Page 2 of 2 - The McPherson Gem and Mineral Club 21st Annual Sale and Swap will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Saturday and from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at 4-H Fairgrounds, 710 W. Woodside, McPherson.
    The rock auction is at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, also at the fairgrounds. Admission is free.
    Rocks, minerals, fossils, gems, meteorites, jewelry and lapidary work will be on display. Admission is free. Hourly door prizes, concessions and free rock ID will be offered. For more information, call 620-241-7732 or 620-241-7600.

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