Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How Do You Display Your Collections?

Gypsum RoseI've got a rock collection that has sat in an old pot for years collecting dust. Some of the rocks I've picked up on vacations, some I've found here at home, some of them have been given to me and others I've bought up at shops along the way.

I love the feeling of a pretty rock in your hand, how the texture and color and pattern can make a little piece of art that any child can pick up and keep in his pocket and take out to appreciate but I've had a hard time knowing what to do with my collection.

Last weekend I pulled out an old board from my craft closet and went to work to make a way to not only display the rocks but make them more interesting and educational for my children. I came up with this:

Displaying Rock Collection
It's just an old piece of sanded wood and I used my woodburner to write the names of the rocks I've identified. It's not fancy and it's not protected from tiny hands but that's kind of the point. I think with rocks or seashells or things like this you have to be able to pick them up to enjoy them fully. That's why so many museums have signs everywhere saying "Don't Touch." When you see something interesting, what's the first thing you usually do? You touch it.

You have to have contact to make it feel real so I've got the rocks sitting out where they can pick them up, mix them around, figure out which is which and identify each piece for themselves. I just wish I could let you touch them too. Here are some of my favorites.

You'll notice that the last four don't have any names. I haven't been able to figure out what they are exactly--if any of you have an answer for me I'd love to know what they are.

I think this next one may be fluorite, but I'm not sure.

Is This Flourite?Rock Collection
Can you tell we're getting more daylight? It makes all the difference in taking good pictures.

Rock CollectionRock CollectionRock Collection
Any help you can give with these last four would be appreciated. I figure someone out there must know what they are.

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Michemily said...

That's a good idea! I've had a rock collection sitting around in boxes for years and I just can't bear to throw it away.

Ayda Sue said...

so pretty!

Suzi Dow said...

My dad did something like this but put a dot of white paint in a hidden spot on it rock and numbered the rock. He than put the number and name of the rock on it assigned location.

Here's a thought to help you id those last rocks. Go the Chugach National Forest's Supervisor Office, 3301 C Street
Suite 300, there in Anchorage (907-743-9500), asked for the Geologist for help.

Scribbit said...

What a fabulous idea Suzi! You're a genius!

And I'm extremely impressed that you had the address on you like that.

Janelle said...

Uh, spam alert (right before me)!

The third from the last looks like maybe it could be rose quartz, but I don't really know.

Heather said...

what a lovely idea! so very pretty and educational and they just look so warm and touchable.

Amy@Let's Explore said...

Neat display! I have also been looking for a way to display our rock collection so that it can be explored and touched.

My girls think the orange rock is Orange Calcite... :)

Heart2Heart said...


I love your writing its so beautiful! Wish it were mine! This is such a cute and creative idea that truly does make this a workable collection and one that your kids will love!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

cndymkr / jean said...

Ok, when you said rock collection I was not thinking of ROCKS. I had imagined plain ordinary rocks. You've got a gorgeous collection going on there.

Beth said...

I can't help with identification, but your display is beautiful. I love rocks!

jubilee said...


I have a very small collection of rocks that I painted to commemorate trips and what have you. The one I like the best is on my window sill.

Carina said...

Not being a real geology buff, I can't help you with the rocks. They would be totally random guesses.

I love the idea, though! I'm also impressed with your script. I have the handwriting of a neurotic 13-yr-old boy, so the idea would be slightly less workable here.

Daisy said...

Does the fluorite chip? It could contain micah. the last one looks like it has quartz in it - it might be a mix of quartz and something else.

Flea said...

Your rocks are beautiful. As is your burned wood. :)

Lori said...

I think the black one that is a bit marbled (the one set against the label behind it "lava rock") looks like obsidian. Having read our volcano books enough I would also point out that it's a volcanic rock as well but more like glass, in fact is also called volcanic glass.

mj said...

What a neat display--I really like it.

I asked my geologist hubby what those last rocks look like, and here's his reply:

1. Tourmaline (blackish-green with striations)

2. Garnet (pinkish soccer ball)

3. Halite (lick it to see if it is salty) or calcite (put a little vinegar on it to see if it fizzes) (orange)

4. Possible aquamarine beryl or microcline feldspar – it is hard to tell from the picture, but if she looks up those two names online she should be able to get her answer.

The mineral just before the tourmaline looks like gypsum to me (can it be scratched with a fingernail?).

Chrissy Johnson said...

This makes me think of the Charlie and Lola story - "I Am Collecting a Collection."

Scribbit said...

Thanks so much MJ on that--after looking online I think he's very right.

I have tried the taste test on the one and the vinegar trick but neither did anything. That was on the orange rock.

I kind of think that the last two are difficult to name because they probably have all different stuff in them. Kind of a rock salad or something.

mj said...

:) Rock salad--love it.

It's a great collection. You did a beautiful job with the display, too!

Allison said...

The black one is black tourmaline. The one below it is a garnet. The orange one is probably calcite, and the one on the very bottom looks like it might be amazonite.

Scribbit said...

By george, I think that's right! Amazonite. Very nice, thanks!

Izzy said...

I agree with MJ's husband. Those were what I thought before I saw that comment. I couldn't think of any other minerals that make sense. I will scratch my brain.

PS your blog was sent to me by my sister to help in the mineral identification. She likes your blog. I like it now also.

-Baby Geologist

Pam D said...

Just beautiful! I really love the way you made them accessible; brilliant. We have a LOT of rocks around here; between those we find in the creek (and with all of the rain and flooding, it just keeps bringing down new samples) and the fact that the Weinman Mineral Gallery, which is now part of TELLUS Science Museum, is just 30 minutes away and has a "rockin' gift shop" (pardon the pun), we have aquired quite the collection. We may borrow/steal your idea for display!

denise said...

wow an amazing idea! i love it!!!

Melissa Stover said...

i love this. i have a rock collection too.

Erin said...

Very cool idea! My kids would love this. I would love to know where you find your rocks from. I have some pretty cool ones, but they were all purchased - not as fun as finding them in nature!

Robert Woodham said...

I have a specimen of green quartzite that looks almost identical to your last rock.