Crack open a mysterious stone next Saturday with the Geode Guys
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Life may be like a box of chocolates, because you never know what you’re going to get. In that way, life is also like geodes.
Geodes — round rocks filled with crystals — are alluring because of their mystery. There’s no guessing what the inside might look like until you crack it open.
People can experience that mystery and excitement as the Geode Guys, Leo and Dusty Atkinson, host a geode cracking event from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Depot Art Center in Steamboat Springs. The event coincides with an exhibit of their stone sculptures from Stone Art Studios, which is on display at the Depot through the month of January.
Interested parties must sign up for a 15-minute window on thegeodeguys.com and are asked to keep groups to eight or less from the same household. Or, for those who can’t access that, they can call Dusty at 970-846-7687. Price depends on which and how many geodes are selected.
“Part of the fun with it is picking out your own geode,” Dusty said. “Actually that might be a big part of it for a lot of people. Online, even though we hand pick every bag, it’s not the same as you going through all of them and finding the one that speaks to you.”
Leo Atkinson is a self-taught lapidary, a person who cuts and polishes gems and stones, with more than 30 years of experience. He wears a pair of necklaces, one a bright green chrysoprase stone, the other a fossil resembling a modern day snail.
He introduced Dusty and his other children to the business, and Dusty now works full time with Leo.
What: Geode cracking
When: Saturday, Jan. 23, Noon to 5 p.m., 15-minute time slots
Where: Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St., Steamboat Springs
For more information, visit thegeodeguys.com
Originally, Leo’s primary business was Stone Art Studios, but the side business, the Geode Guys, has taken off with the pandemic. The Geode Guys make appearances at art fairs across the country, which is where most of the sculptures are sold. With events being canceled and people looking for things to do at home, the Geode Guys have flourished.
“Prior to a couple years ago, online was about 5% of our business. It’s gradually been growing,” Dusty said. “Now it’s become so busy, it takes up most of my time.”
During next Saturday’s event, attendees can select their own geode and watch as the Geode Guys use a small machine to apply pressure around the center of the rock, cracking it about perfectly in half.
It’s difficult to guess what the inside will look like, but there are a few factors. Heavier geodes will be less hollow, while lighter ones will have thinner agate walls and more open centers. The color of the crystals depends on the minerals in the area where the geodes formed.
Dusty cracked open a geode about 2 inches in diameter and began to examine its contents.
“That one’s pretty neat,” he said, holding both halves in the palm of one hand and pointing with the other. “It’s got some blue, some little red in the background, a little calcite down at the bottom,”
For those who can’t make the event or want more geodes, they can get Geode Guy bags from Lyons Corner Drug.
Or, for the truly determined, they can look on the hillside across from Snow Bowl, but the odds of finding a geode are extremely slim.
“Chances are, it’s probably a leaverite,” Leo said. “A leaverite that’s like leave her right there.”
Stone Art Studios exhibit
Before or after examining the shimmering, colorful contents of their geodes, attendees can peruse the gallery.
The exhibit is breathtaking, filled with sculptures of precious stones and fossils of orthoceras and agatized coral that appear to be from other worlds. While all the stones occur naturally, Leo and Dusty polish, reshape and mount them whether it’s on a granite or stone base or on a wall. Many of the sculptures rotate on a swivel to allow the viewer to see all angles of the stone.
“I just look for oddities when I go to these big shows,” Leo said.
The agatized coral mostly comes from Florida, where Leo used to live before moving to Steamboat with his family.
“You can see by the polyps on these guys they were coral. They were actual living coral back 30 million years ago,” Leo said.
What seems to be the centerpiece of the show, tucked away in a dramatically-lit portion of the wall, is a tall, beige, porous rock.
“This is from China, Taihu stone. It’s called the scholar stone,” Leo said. “It’s Mother Nature totally, other than me making this base and balancing and drilling. That’s pretty much it. It’s a limestone formation.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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When Steamboat Springs Middle School band director James Knapp saw a production of “Matilda” performed on Broadway, he knew he wanted to bring a version of it to town.