A Hidden Gem (Make that Gems)

Being a curious person, I like seeing things I haven’t seen before and learning about things I didn’t know before.

Like lapidary.

Whenever I looked up things to do in the area the Lizzadro Lapidary Museum always popped up. I didn’t pay much attention. I wasn’t sure what it was and didn’t take the time to figure it out because something else would catch my eye.

But this weekend I read more about and it sounded interesting. I also read the reviews – mostly written by visitors who were five-star impressed.

First of all, who knew Elmhurst has become such a unique town with courtyards and restaurants and shops?

Second – if you don’t know, lapidary is creating art from stones, gems and minerals … or the person who does so.

Third – Mr. Lizzadro became interested in stones/gems/minerals as a young man. Part of that interest was generated in the Keewenaw Peninsula – (A place I know well because of camp. We have spent many hours roaming the small lakeside towns.) That’s where Mary Lizzadro was from and so the family spent a lot of time there. The Keweenaw juts out into Lake Superior and beautiful rocks wash up on the beaches. The peninsula is also known for its copper mines. Mr. Lizzadro got an entry level job with Meade Electric (a company still in existence) and rose to chairman of the board. In the process, he did well monetarily and began buying works of lapidary art. His collection eventually became the museum (opened in 1962) and it is still run by the family.

Fourth – this place has incredible art. I can’t even imagine how some of these pieces were done. The intricacy is mind-boggling.

We also had a fun chat with the friendly security guard.

I want to go back again with my good camera (not just my phone).

If you’re looking for something to do on a summer afternoon, I would suggest Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. BUT! Warning – if you put the museum on your next summer’s to-do list – they are moving to Oak Brook and the move will take two or three months and  the museum will be closed. (Can you imagine moving hundreds of mega-valuable, ancient pieces of fragile stone/gems?) So go now while the going’s good or take the time to check out if they’re in transition before making the drive.

I will post pictures according to type.

The Dioramas

The figures in the dioramas were carved in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. The backgrounds were painted right in Elmhurst in the 70s, 80s and 90s. The figures were displayed in scenes to specifically entertain the children who visit. (Many school classes come on field trips.)

Here are a few of the dioramas:IMG_0022.jpg

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The Mosaics

I was amazed – these were made between 1780 and 1850. They look like paintings but are actually thousands of pieces of glass precisely cut to fit together to form a picture.

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IMG_0040One of my favorites –

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Then we have the butterfly out of petrified wood.

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Henry the IV out of ivoryIMG_0030.jpg

The Puzzle Ball – 24 separate spheres carved inside what was once a solid piece of ivory.

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You can’t get much smaller than this – think slightly bigger than an egg.

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And the star of the show – the Lizzadro Castle – created in 1984 for the grandson of the founder. From their website – a descriptions: On a large slab of Brazilian agate, the 18K gold castle rises from specimens of amethyst, malachite, azurite, and vanadium. Faceted diamonds sparkle in the windows, giving the appearance of an occupied residence, ready to welcome weary travelers. (I did not get a good picture because of all the reflection.)IMG_0042.jpg

Go. Spend an afternoon. Learn some fascinating facts about lapidary.

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