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Monday, December 2, 2019

By Chris Frost


Oxnard-- It was a celebration 50 years in the making, as the Oxnard Gem and Mineral Show put its best foot forward, Nov. 23 and 24 for its golden anniversary.


Attendees marveled at great pieces of art, handcrafted and made from scratch in many cases. The event also featured a raffle and auction throughout the day as people bid on their favorite items or won them outright.


President Stephanie Hagiwara is thrilled to celebrate 50 years at the Oxnard Performing Arts and Convention Center.


"We are a sponsor of the Performing Arts Center, and our commitment to hold meetings and shows here helped get it built," she said. "Our president at the time, Emil Pfieler, was the master of ceremonies when they cut the ribbon. We're thrilled to celebrate our 50th show in a place that has such meaning for the community."


The gem this year is gold, and the group votes on the mineral.


"We narrow it down to three, and we vote for the top three," she said. "Gold is a no brainer."


The PACC is going through a transition, and she, like everyone else, is devastated.


"We worked hard to have three buildings, not one, to fulfill the needs in the community," she said. "After 10 years to get the Oxnard Room, where we hold our event and another five years to get the auditorium, the city council chose to close this facility in the blink of an eye."


Groups like the Oxnard Ballroom Dancers recently held their last event because they couldn't find another venue that would fit.


They were talking about ideas and were talking about having a dedicated place for birthday parties.


"That's why they built the community center," she said. "To have celebrations as small as a birthday party, or as large at The Nutcracker in the auditorium. They don't want to book any events after Jan. 1, because they want the new operator coming in to make those decisions. The city council is working as fast as they can to find an operator, and supposedly they're going to vote on Dec. 12."


The Gem and Mineral Society wants to continue holding their shows, so if needed, they'll look for another venue.


The dealer and kids' rooms swapped for 2019, she said, because they're using low wattage LED bulbs.


"We had enough power in here to be confident that no one's power would be lost," Hagiwara said. "We're able to give our dealers more space, which allows our dealers to bring wonderful things."


The group also hosts the Boys and Girls Scouts, as they are a National Park Partner.


"People who come to our show can become a junior paleontologist ranger when they fill out the activity booklet," she said. "We are able to give more space for education."


Hagiwara started at a gem and mineral show and decided she needed a hobby.


"Through the City of Oxnard, we offer classes in rock polishing and silversmithing, which is silver and wire wrapping," she said. "You know how it is. You start with one little thing, and my involvement grew. I thought cut, and polished rocks only came in a jewelry store."


Currently, her favorite is gemstones.


"I can go out into the fields, find my rocks, come back to the shop, polish them, and set them in jewelry," she said. It's cool."


Lorraine Frost from Valley Prospectors was teaching people how to pan for gold.


"Valley Prospectors is a non-profit organization, and we teach our members how to prospect for gold," she said. "We also do metal detecting and rock counting. We're everything outdoors, so the gold here was found on many of the claims that the club owns."


She said members find the gold and the prospectors buy from them.


"We salt some bags so that we can show you the method we use for panning," Frost said. "We use an easy method which is easy to learn and basically, you're going to take the pan, and shake it side-to-side. Then, you are are going to stop, tip it, and dip it."


Gold has a high specific gravity, she said, and it will go to the bottom of the pan when it's in water.


When you tip it and dip it, she said all the light sands come out of the pan, and the gold stays in the bottom of the pan.


She taught attendees the difference between real gold and pyrite, otherwise known as fool’s gold.


"With pyrite, it needs the sunshine to be sparkly," she said. "Gold will be gold color, whether there is sunshine or shade.


Brad Smith said jewelers use casting to develop a shape quickly with minimum labor content.


"Most jewelry is fabricated from components," he said. "In this case, you would start with a model that you would carve yourself, or if you want to copy a model, there is a casting process for that. I am showing the sand casting method to make copies for jewelry use quickly and easily. I use a kit available from DIY castings in Tuscon. I have three or four of these kits that I use to teach casting in my classes.


He can always tell when his wife likes a piece he creates when she wears it.


"I've made a few duds that have not gone over well, but that's okay," he said.


Nancy Raven-Smith writes mysteries and said a good location for the story is vital.


"Our family wrote a memoir called "The Reluctant Farmer of Whimsey Hill," she said. "We knew we would write it when we left our farm in Virginia."


The book is a collection of family stories that everyone contributed to, and about Brad's adjustment from robots, he designed to animals.


Brad discovered quickly that robots and animals don't behave the same way.


"The animals won," Nancy said. 


Phoebe and Robbie Scott are in the Ventura Pebble Club and came to Oxnard with their mother for the show.


"We're having a good time," Grandma said. "I'll probably get some little things for them. Robbie costs the most. I started bringing Robbie to the Ventura Fairgrounds mineral show last year." 


Robbie had some seashells and said he's having a good time.


"Mr. Knapton is making me pretend fossils," Robbie said. "I want to be a geologist and archeologist when I grow up."


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