OK, let's start with: I love rocks. I remember being about six or seven years old and reading a magazine article about mining opal in Australia. The idea of digging something so beautiful out of the ground, one small rock at a time, fascinated me. I wanted to go to Australia and own an opal mine!
When I went to college--Florida State University, class of 1975--I majored in biology but I had to take a few other courses in other sciences. I chose a geology course, thinking I would learn something about rocks.
It was about planetary formation and plate tectonics and stuff like that, and after the first two weeks I was bored to tears.
Then real life intervened and I was busy making a living, and fast forward to four years ago. I happened to be in Michael's and saw a tumbler kit for sale and bought it on a whim to tumble some rocks. It was a miserable failure, but it whetted my appetite for rocks again.
So I got on eBay and bought a Lortone tumbler and some tumbling rough and got started. Now I have five Lortone double tumblers and ten tumbler loads going at any given time.
Then I found the local gem and mineral club--Tampa Bay Mineral and Science Club--and started learning wire wrapping. It wasn't long before I was cutting cabochons and learning silversmithing.
Then some equipment became available and I bought a very old Lortone 12-inch slab saw and a used Lortone combination saw/cabbing unit.
See how this thing kind of snowballed?