GOLDEN VALLEY - Rick Vroman loves rocks. Big ones, little ones, precious, semi-precious and common, everyday, ordinary stones. They all fascinate him.
A lapidary is a cutter, polisher or engraver of precious stones, usually other than diamonds, according to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary. Vroman fits that description.
"Lapidary means I do rock cutting and polishing. This is my rock saw," he said, indicating a massive piece of well-greased machinery that sets in the yard between his house and his work shed. "And those piles out there are rocks I've picked up from around the desert and other places."
Vroman uses stones, gravel, boulders and gemstones in most of his creations. Some, he keeps to decorate his own surroundings. Others, he sells on the Internet via his Web site at www.vromanart.com or at Diamondback Jewelry in the Angel's Plaza on Highway 68 in Golden Valley.
At age 17, his family moved to Kingman and he attended his senior year at Kingman High School.
"I attended one semester at Kingman High and graduated early," Vroman said. "I've been working with stones and making jewelry ever since then."
He attended Mohave Community College, where he earned an associate's degree in applied science with emphasis on jewelry.
"They had an excellent department," Vroman said. "I taught jewelry and lapidary for 13 years at the college."
Vroman obtains his rocks and stones from various sources, including estate sales. And he uses his finds in creating his own designs. He also repairs jewelry freelance for various jewelers in the region, and he turns his talent toward fulfilling the desires of customers who come to him with one of-a-kind designs.
"I've made a Masonic ring from a guy's specific design," he said. "I used the lost-wax method. You can put your fingerprint in the wax and it comes out really detailed."
Vroman describes himself as self motivated.
"I do so many things," he said. "If I'm going crazy looking through the opti-visor, I can go outside and work on something else. I find that if I'm doing something I enjoy, I don't procrastinate. I just do it."
Besides his jewelry, Vroman takes pride in working with larger stones and slabs.
"I saw bigger rocks into slabs that I either use or sell to other people who do lapidary work," he said.
His rock cacti are found at the Golden Valley Post Office and other businesses and homes all around Mohave County.
"I made the first couple for my own amusement, but then people liked them, so I started selling them," he said. "They just make you smile."
Vroman also does detailed wood carvings and sculpture, and he makes knives from deer antlers and bones that he finds at swap meets.
"I do a lot of trading for the materials I need," he said. "I taught myself flint napping, chipping stone to make arrowheads, and I've been doing that for about 25 years."
Vroman is able to visualize designs and go straight to work creating what his inner eye sees.
"I guess it's a gift. Ideas just come to me. I like to use my imagination. I see it, visualize it and try to make it the way I imagined it," he said.
"Somebody asked me how I carve the things I do. I told them it's easy. You just carve or chip away what doesn't look like the thing you have in mind."
Vroman teaches classes for the Mohave County Gemstoners Club. Anyone interested in learning about native or exotic stones can call Nan Russell at (928) 846-0927. For more details about Vroman's work, call him at (928) 565-4448.