Featured Artist: Ken Thurston
New for the 2018 Holiday Season, The Gem Shop is proud to feature lapidary artists who create extraordinary art that highlight and celebrate the beauty of the mineral world.
Ken Thurston first fell in love with rocks as a child after going on family vacations to visit his grandparents in Colorado. His grandfather’s enthusiasm and love for geology and lapidary arts transferred to Ken when he took him on rock field trips across the dry climate of Eastern Colorado. Later, Ken subscribed to Lapidary Journal and loved reading the articles about field trips to look for Dryhead, Fairburn, Lake Superior and other agates. However, it was a mail order of jasper slabs from the Ed Brandt stone company that solidified his love for Jasper. The kit included Bruneau, Owyhee, Rocky butte, carrasite, succor creek, moonshine springs, jack pot picture rock, willow creek, wild horse, and Morrisonite. From this point forward Ken was hooked. Never one for cabochons or the jewelry side of the industry, he preferred polished slabs that showed the full beauty of the stones.
Since retiring as an executive in the steel industry, Ken found it only natural to combine his interest in rocks and steel. He sought to find a way to combine both materials that allowed their beauty to shine as well as serve a functional purpose. After seeing pictures of handmade stainless steel pocket knives with inlaid jasper handles, Ken was immediately hooked on showcasing jasper mounted in stainless steel.
He says, “I thought to myself, if these knife makers can inlay Owyhee, Biggs, and Deschutes Jasper in stainless steel then I am also going to figure out how to do it. This started the quest I am on now.”
Ken bought some metalworking equipment and taught himself to use it through trial and error. He prefers to use stainless steel because it is tarnish and scratch resistant, and has a hardness much close to jasper than gold, silver, or brass. Ken now creates pill boxes and salt and pepper shakers with precision inlaid jasper tops.