Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

6.2 Holding a Workshop on Display Ideas


6.2: Holding a Workshop on Display Ideas

Once your kids are familiar with the basics of assembling an effective display, hold a seminar at one of your monthly meetings to review those basics in an interactive manner. Such a seminar should be hands-on, with a display case front-and-center to vividly illustrate display techniques.

For instance, bring in different sorts of liners to show how specimens can get lost against a busy background of plaid or paisley versus how they can be highlighted against a neutral background. Demonstrate how dark specimens pop more effectively to the eye against a background of beige, eggshell white, or light blue but get lost against a black background. Conversely, show how light-colored specimens are enhanced against that same black background.

Show the difference that lighting can make, starting with no light at all, and then illustrating problems of high-wattage light bulbs that glare or bulbs that are too small and that create spotlighting effects within a case.

Demonstrate appropriate use of labeling. Show labels that are too large and too crammed with dense text versus those that are small, simple, and convey just the facts, ma‘am. Illustrate the difference between hand-written labels cut out jaggedly with scissors versus typed or printed labels measured for uniformity and sliced evenly with a paper cutter. Show labels printed on thin paper that ends up curling at the edges versus labels printed on stiff card stock.

Illustrate effects that risers or glass shelves or acrylic display stands can have by adding depth to a display. For instance, show an assortment of rocks lined up in rows in an unlined case. Then show that same assortment in a case that‘s been lined, that has tiered risers, and that includes stands beneath the specimens.

In a display, especially one entered into a competition, all specimens should be free of dust, dirt, and fingerprints. Leave a cluster of clear quartz crystals outside for several weeks and bring it in along with a pan of water and a toothbrush to illustrate the dramatic effect a simple scrubbing can have on specimens. (But don‘t try this with your halite!)

After reviewing general display techniques, let the kids themselves play around with a case. You can bring in materials yourself for them to experiment with, or you can have them bring in their own collections. Don‘t just lecture and distribute a list of do‘s and don‘t‘s. Let the kids see for themselves what happens when they try different arrangements and display techniques. If you have members who have taken slides or prints of displays at various shows, a nice touch is a brief slide show or photo album of award-winning cases to show how it can all come together.

The Geo-Juniors of the Summit Lapidary Club (Ohio) have prepared a nice worksheet you might copy and distribute to help your juniors work through an evaluation session.