Mineral Symposium 2024 at Tellus Science Museum Button

Tellus Symposium 2024: Minerals Are Art

Saturday, March 16, 2024
9 AM - 4:30 PM


Recommeded for ages 8+ with geologic background and general mineral knowledge.

Prepaid reservations are required. Cost includes all presentations, breakfast and lunch, as well as Museum admission. Registration ends Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 5 PM.

Image is Manganoan Adamite from Ojuela, 6.5 cm wide
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Scovil, 2018
PAINTING: Tama Higuchi, 2021, Watercolor

Though minerals hold the history of the earth and solar system and are the literal building blocks of our modern lives, they are also art – not just the pigments used in art. Their variety of color, form, luster, and composition inspire artists to capture and accentuate their beauty. Come learn from those who prepare and curate these natural works of art or celebrate them through photography, painting, design, and carving.



Stuart Mills, PhD

Minerals are Crystalline Treasures

Dr. Mills will discuss Arkenstone’s recent history of merging minerals with art to make exhibitions for the public and will highlight how minerals and photography is a utilization of an art form to appreciate mineral forms. Furthermore, micromineral photography is centered on the art seen in crystal formations and museums like in Lausanne have done art-gallery style exhibitions using SEM pictures.

Stuart completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2007. He went on to a postdoctoral research and teaching fellowship at the University of British Columbia, and then was a Research Scientist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, before joining Museums Victoria as Senior Curator in 2011. Stuart specializes in the study of secondary minerals and how they form, using a variety of methods including X-ray diffraction, synthesis and chemical/isotopic techniques. He works on minerals from deposits in Victoria (including the famous Lake Boga quarry in northern Victoria) and the rest of Australia, as well as from international occurrences (especially Cap Garonne, France and Otto Mountain, California). Stuart also enjoys the challenges involved in describing new minerals. To date, he has participated in describing 82 of these and has had the mineral millsite, CuTeO3·2H2O named in his honor. Stuart is a Principal Editor of Mineralogical Magazine, is the Secretary of the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association, a Consulting Editor with Rocks & Minerals, and Scientific advisor for Le Cahier des Micromonteurs. He is in the process of describing a new mineral from Georgia.

Joseph Dorris, Miner and Owner of Pinnacle 5 Minerals

The Discovery and Reveal of Minerals as Art from the Smoky Hawk Claim, Colorado

Joseph Dorris will share the history of his family business producing fine Amazonite and Smoky Quartz combination specimens and Colorado Topaz from claims that he and his family mine in the Crystal Peak Mining District, Tarryall Mining District, and Mount Antero in Colorado. Once specimens are safely pulled from the ground, the real work begins to clean, prepare, and often repair specimens.

Joe began collecting gems and minerals at a young age and built his hobby into a specimen mining and selling business. He is also a bench jeweler, artist, and author. Joe has been able to pass on his love for prospecting to his children. His family-run company was featured on Prospectors, an original TV program on The Weather Channel. The program featured the family mining at their claims and recovering specimens in the Crystal Peak Mining District, Tarryall Mining District, and Mount Antero.

Jeff Scovil – Mineral Photographer

Crystalline Artistry

Jeff’s Presentation will showcase the beauty of natural crystals as represented by mineral specimens from around the world and in many different collections.

Jeff Scovil has been a professional photographer of minerals and other earth science materials for 34 years and is the acknowledged, worldwide leader in the field. In 1996 he published Photographing Minerals, Fossils and Lapidary Materials by Geoscience Press. He travels the world photographing for collectors, dealers, museums and publishers and lectures widely on his travels as well as photography and mineralogy.

Jeff’s work has been published in numerous books on mineralogy as well as books on geology, chemistry and physics. He works with most of the mineral magazines in the United States as well as Europe. His photos have been featured on 14 of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show posters as well as posters for shows in Denver, Germany, France and Pakistan. 

For over 34 years Jeff, has run both the Mineral Photography Seminar and Mineral Photography competition at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. He won the 2007 Carnegie Mineralogical Award.

Manganoan Adamite from Ojuela, specimen 6.5 cm wide
Photograph by Jeff Scovil, 2018

Tama Haguchi – Artist and Mineral Collector

Crystalline Portraits: The Study of Minerals Through Art  

Inspired by her love for mineral collecting and the science of mineralogy, Tama Higuchi has been painting crystalline treasures since 2019, following the steps of previous naturalist illustrators to create beautiful mineral “portraits.” Transparency, luster, and color are her muses, and she works with watercolor and gouache to create faithful yet artistic representations of aesthetic mineral specimens, Earth’s finest naturally occurring sculptures. In Tama’s presentation, she will invite you to explore this vivid junction between science and art through her work. 

Tama Higuchi began her involvement in the mineral collecting community in 2016, when she was gifted a labradorite that sparked an intense interest in collecting minerals. In 2019, she shifted her collecting focus to worldwide thumbnails, with an emphasis on color, aesthetics, and form. Her love of art has inspired the direction of her collecting philosophy, and vice versa, often choosing minerals because they would make great painting subjects. For Tama, these two types of beauty go hand-in-hand.

In 2020, she was elected to the board of directors of the Young Mineral Collectors, a non-profit dedicated to fostering a community and love of learning within the younger demographic of mineral enthusiasts. In 2023, Tama was elected to the board of directors for the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, and as a manager of the ever-indispensable Mindat.org. Most recently, Tama presented twelve mineral portraits alongside their reference specimens at the 2023 Munich Show, for the exhibition “Art d’Objet.”

Outside of mineral collecting, Tama loves Byzantine history, oil painting, and motorsports. She drives a 1997 M-Edition Miata named “Froggie.”

Manganoan Adamite from Ojuela, specimen 6.5 cm wide
Painting by Tama Higuchi, 2021, Watercolor

Patrick Dreher – Master Carver

Carving the Invisible

In this illuminating presentation, fifth-generation hard stone carver Patrick Dreher will share some of his family history including the influence Karl Faberge played and how Faberge’s vision of making unforgettable small animal carvings for the Russian Tsar and the royal family helped to launch the modern day legend of the Dreher dynasty. Patrick will give a brief overview of how to, “see” the animal in the rough stone, the various steps in creating a carving from rough stone evaluation to the finished masterpiece and will, of course, share many examples of the legendary art work of the Dreher family.

Gemstone carving is a demanding art that requires precise selection of materials, many hours of hard work, patience and a special talent for form and design. Patrick has been producing original sculptures for over 30 years. He is not only a fifth-generation stone carver – he descends from 13 generations of agate workers going back more than 500 years.

Through the generations, the Dreher name has been synonymous with animals impeccably carved from precious gemstones. Patrick Dreher continues these traditions today at the family headquarter in Idar-Oberstein. He learned the secrets of the trade and craft from his father. Especially how to select and “read” the precious stones – the structure and color – correctly, to bring out the hidden animal. 

As part of the artistic process, Dreher observes animals, preferably in their natural habitat, to study their movements and silhouette. He creates his art by matching gemstones with the right animal and its movements. Himself an avid diver, Patrick Dreher has been particularly fond of underwater creatures for years. With spectacular carvings for example of seahorses made of ruby, or starfish made of three-colored tourmaline, he interprets the Dreher family tradition in his own way. What fascinates and simultaneously challenges Patrick Dreher time and time again is the unification of the vivacity of both worlds: The task of finding the right motif from the seemingly infinite animal world as well as its depiction in its own movement, matching the color scheme of the gemstones, thus making each objecta unique piece of art.

His work is permanently exhibited at the German Gemstone Museum in his hometown of Idar-Oberstein, Germany, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston, Texas, USA, and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.


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