Sunday, January 30, 2011

It Was a "Rockin" Day

The Art Institute of Chicago has a study group which has some really neat side trips that do not always involve going into Chicago.

Last Thursday's trip was to  a suburb of Chicago where there is a lapidary museum call the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art.  Joseph Lizzadro came from Italy around the turn of the last century as a young child.  He rose in the business world to become the chairman of the board of Meade Electric all the while having a passion for lapidary (the cutting and polishing of stone).

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

This is a Florentine mosaic of Joseph Lizzadro.  These are all separate pieces of stone fitted together to look like a painting, took four years to complete.

Florentine Mosaic

Joseph collected throughout his lifetime not only antique stone but more important stones that were cut with expertise and creativity.

A most rare and expensive color

A rare blue color but not as desired as the green Jadeite

Wow!  I was totally bowled over by all of the precious gems and minerals on display at this very small museum.  These are all things that come from this earth after millions of years of impact on the soils that we as gardeners work in each year. 

Copper from Michigan


A Gemologist guided us on our tour explaining the difference between rocks and gems, rocks being made from more than one mineral and gems usually having just one  major component.  Lapis happens to be a rock that is also classified as a gem.

Mr Lizzadro began collecting back in the 1920's mostly pieces that were not necessarily antique but of the utmost quality as far as carving and formation.  He was an artist in regard to producing finely carved pieces and jewelry. 

He purchased many pieces from China that were of the Jadeite and Nephrite quality many priceless today.

Nephrite Jade
Older than Jadeite

Jadeite Candlesticks

All of these colors were contained within one full piece of Jade

I am ashamed to say that I went many years to college across the way from this unique museum and never ventured over for a visit.  I said to myself, rocks,? why would I be interested in rocks?  Well, I finally got here and probably appreciate it much more than I would have then.

This is a screen made entirely of stones all pieced together like a wonderful painting given to the Emperor of China in his "white eyebrow birthday year" (assumed to be about 70 years old) in 1736.   The background is all made of cinnabar in multiple patterns.

The Lizzadro has dioramas that line the walls filled with unique carvings that both children and adults love to look at.

He was the longest living elephant from the Brookfield Zoo.  When he died in 1972 they used his tusks for this carving.  He is carved from Obsidian and ivory.

The parrot is carved from Jasper and Malachite

There is a full wall of snuff bottles, snuff being powdered tobacco, which was used from the 1600's until about 1912.  It was at this time that cigarettes replaced the snuff.

In the background, we kept hearing this typewriter typing, I mean a real typewriter with the return and the sound of the return going back and forth.  We were all laughing wondering if it was the sound of the new iPad or Netbook!  As we moved closer to the desk area I spied that it was an IBM Selectric circa 1964, we all thought we had somehow been sucked into "Back To The Future."


Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Eileen, thank you for another educative and entertaining article! I love gems and minerals and absolutely enjoyed your photographs!
P.S.Your hydrangeas from the previous post are dazzling!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Hi Eileen. What fabulous pieces of art.The pictures are amazing. I would hate to be the person that had to keep them clean. LOL! I would be petrified at breaking them.

Zoey said...

Wow, those are some rocks! I never knew there was a blue jade...I like the green color better, too. That looks like one big pair of candlesticks--gorgeous!

Thanks for sharing your fun and educational outing with us.

Mr Brown Thumb said...

Woah, these are beautiful! I never would've guessed we had anything like this in the area. I'll have to check it out as dioramas are one of my favorite things to look at.

Gatsbys Gardens said...


There were so many gems I did not photograph all were gorgeous.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Lona, you would love this place but neither of us would want to do the dusting.


Gatsbys Gardens said...


I never knew there were so many colors or jade also plus new jade and old jade. I should go back again, there was just so much to see.


Gatsbys Gardens said...


There were so many dioramas, you would have loved them with the creativity of the stones and the carving. It's about twenty minutes west of the loop.


Lily said...

Hi Eileen,

Thank you so much for this post. I would never knew this museum exist in my neighborhood. I am a fan of this kind of art.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Lily,

I passed it every day for years and never went in. They don't do a lot of advertising.


Tootsie said...

wow....what a wonderful place to visit! I am so glad you took us along for the trip! I love some of those gems!

The Tablescaper said...

What a wonderfully interesting post. Thanks so mcu for being a part of Seasonal Sundays.

- The Tablescaper

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Tootsie,

Sometimes the best places are close to our own homes. This one was a winner.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Tablescaper,

I love your seasonal Sundays, always beautiful ideas.


Beth said...

What a beautiful post! I love the Florentine mosaics. I love stones, gems and plain old "rocks." I used to collect them when I was I garden with them. :-)
Hugs, Beth

Scribbler said...

I found you on Seasonal Sundays! This is the most interesting post -- very informative.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Beth,

It is very difficult to see that these mosiacs are stone. They look like paintings.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Scribbler,

Thanks so much for visiting.


Karen said...

Eileen, since we love all things 'rock' I think you have shown us a new museum to explore. What a fascinating place! So much talent in the world, thank you for taking us on this tour.