Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Sunday, February 27, 2011

January 2011 Merit Badge Project: Showmanship

A fun part of collecting is sharing what you have found.  When displaying at a local gem show, you not only get to "show off" you own collections, but also to learn from others, getting advice, sharing tips, and making new friends.  Before you enter an exhibit into a show, county fair, library, or elsewhere, you should learn the rules of effective showmanship.

Activity 1. Techniques for effective displays.
Learn the techniques of assembling an effective display, such as balance, color, coordination, labeling, and lighting. List them from memory.

Activity 2. Holding a workshop on display ideas.
Hold a workshop with club members to discuss display ideas.  Have a display case at hand and see what happens when you use various types of materials as background liners (light versus dark materials; plain versus patterned cloth; etc. What happens when you vary the lighting or use risers or stands to raise display specimens.

Activity 3. Observing and evaluating displays.
Either alone or with a group, visit a museum with rock displays or gem show with exhibits. Carefully observe the displays, taking note of what catches your eye as being effective or not so effective.  Make a checklist to techniques for effective displays and judge the displays you see against the checklist. Then hold a discussion about what works and what doesn't in a display.  How could the displays you saw be improved?

Activity 4. Making your own public display.
Gather together the best of your rock, mineral, or fossil collection or your lapidary artwork and prepare a display for public exhibit.  Good settings for displays include your school, county fairs, libraries, a local museum, a rock club show, or a science fair.  Such a display might be done individually or with a group.  If done as a group, your club might approach a public library about doing a display for a month.  Libraries like to do this, and they often use it as an opportunity to highlight their books on that particular topic.

Activity 5. Entering competition.
Enter into competitive display at your regional show, at a county fair, or elsewhere. Competitions usually have very specific sets of rules or guidelines that all entrants must follow.

Five tips for effective displays
1. Use neutral liners to  highlight, not detract from specimens.  Display cases look best when lined with cloth wrapped tightly around sheets of cardboard or plywood cut to fit snugly along the case sides and bottom. Two rules govern the choice of cloth. First, you want the viewer's eye  to focus on your specimens, not the background; choose a cloth that's neutral in appearance.  Avoid patters (spots, checkers, paisley, stripes) and avoid cloth that's glossy and reflects light or that's garish in color.  Plain liner, canvas, or burlap in neutral color usually works best. Second, choose a color that will highlight your specimens. Dark specimens can get lost against a dark liner; instead, use pastel shades of light blue, tan, eggshell, white, etc.  If displaying light-colored specimens, a dark liner (black, navy blue, dark olive green) may be more appropriate.
2. Use balance (in size of specimens, colors, and arrangement) to guide the viewer's eye across a display in an aesthetically pleasing way. Choose specimens that compliment one another in size and shape and arrange them symmetrically around a center. A large specimen shoved to the side of a case can make a display looked lopsided.  However, a single large piece place in the center and surrounded by smaller pieces can provide a pleasing effect.  If using risers, place larger specimens toward the bottom of the case and smaller ones toward the top to lend a sense of "gravity" to the display.  If displaying colorful minerals, arrange the colors in a way that provided interest to the viewer; for instance, alternate dark and light colored minerals.
3. Use neat, clear labeling that's both precise and concise and large enough to read.  If possible, you should use labels that are typed in large, bold print that is easily read from a distance, and labels should be uniform in size.
4. Use lighting that's neither too bright nor too dim and shines evenly across a case. Light should fall evenly throughout the case, with not round spotlights or shadows.
5. Finally, consider using a theme or story to tie a display together.

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Welcome! This is the gateway to adventure and discovery

Through this blog pebble pups and junior members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society can access their lessons, work on assignments and projects, and receive details about field trips in the Pikes Peak Region. This Internet program is also suitable for young people who are interested in Earth science but do not live near a rock club or gem and mineral society or for young people anywhere who want a deeper dive into these topics. The only requirement is that all participants must be members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and must fill out the CSMS membership form (under important websites) and send their registration and membership fee in. Steven Veatch is the senior instructor and will need an email from you with your name, address, phone number, and permission from your parents to participate in this program.