Crystal Treasure Trove
Copyright © 2015 - Bill Kaunitz
Moving the Big Rocks
Picture # 198
When I moved out of Arkansas, I brought 1200 pounds of my favorite crystals with me back to California. This was late in 1989. I actually had another 10,000 pounds of crystals that I did not want to take with me. However, my friends Dave and Shelley from the Crystal Cats store ended up buying my entire remaining collection of crystals. I let them use my house and cleaning facilities for six months to process everything before they moved it down to their store in Florida.
The situation was different when Nancy and I moved out of our Mill Valley Museum. We had a dozen giant crystals ranging from 400 pounds up to one ton each, that needed to be relocated 100 miles south of San Francisco. I had never faced such a daunting task before. I tried to get my friend Bill R. to bring his forklift over but he was unavailable. What to do, what to do?
I ended up hiring 12 guys, all Aztecs, to help in the big move. These amazing men are sturdy workers with great concentration and strength. We ended up moving all the big rocks with special lifting slings and a pallet jack. This involved creating a wooden pathway to slide the big crystals to the rental truck.
Picture # 199
Here I am placing a pallet jack underneath an 1100-pound Arkansas cluster. We already tipped the big crystal from the vertical display position onto a lifting sling. Then the 13 of us manhandled the cluster onto a special pallet that we built to accommodate the size and weight of the stone. Regular pallets were not large enough for some of my big crystals.
Only one of our Aztec friends spoke any English, none of them spoke Spanish and yet the job went very smoothly with no damage to the crystals or us. It would have been much faster and cheaper to use a forklift instead of manpower. However, we had trouble scheduling our move due to the upcoming date for leaving the property. I ended up hiring the 12 guys for 12 hours.
Picture # 200
This is a picture of the magic sling we invented for moving heavy rocks by hand. This 4' x 4' sling is made out of two sheets of heavy-duty synthetic canvas that are stitched across the middle four times. Then 20 nylon handles are added to the sides. Up to 10 people can get a good safe grip, which is important because one little mishap can cause a major accident.
We have moved crystal clusters and geodes up to 1700 pounds with these sturdy lifting devices. If you ever need one like it, they are not available through stores. I can have my favorite canvas maker create one for you. Ask me to contact Patti Collins in Mill Valley for you.
Before the big move, I had eight of these sturdy slings made in custom sizes. They were designed to support specific stones. It's easy to get the sling under a big stone by rolling the sling half way up, tilting the crystal on edge, inserting the sling underneath and then letting the crystal down. Then tip it up in the other direction and unroll the sling. Now you can access all the handles.
It took a while to figure out how to do this with a minimum of effort and maximum safety. Crystals and geodes do not like to be subjected to sudden shocks as the interfaces between adjacent crystals can shiver and crack apart. Usually if a crystal comes out of the ground intact, it is sturdy enough to survive repeated moving. All of my crystals have traveled thousands of miles and some have traveled 10,000 miles or more to reach their current homes. You should see some of the giant boxes and crates that we built to ship crystals around the USA and the world.
Picture # 201
Moving our big altar tables is also a challenge. When we left Mill Valley, my biggest table was 20' long by 4' deep by 6' feet high. It weighed about 700 pounds. I wanted to move it without disassembling the entire sturdy structure. As you can see here, the tables were nailed, screwed and braced thoroughly to take the tons of weight. That first huge table required 15 people to lift onto a 24' long rental truck.
We had the use of a lift-gate on the truck that also helped. Once the table was in the truck, the shelves were plenty sturdy to hold tons and tons of boxes.
You are now looking at a picture of a 12' table being moved by one person with a forklift. My friend Stuart is very clever about working with machinery to move huge, heavy objects. He spent last summer up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado working with giant earthmoving machines to dig aquamarine gem crystals. You have to move millions of pounds of rock to find aquamarine crystals or even quartz clusters buried in the ground. Without these heavy-duty machines, there would be no way to access crystals for all the people who want them. Explosives are never used in crystal mining because they shatter the stones around the explosion.
Picture # 202
Here is a photo of the men moving a seven-foot tall amethyst geode. When I built my Mill Valley crystal room, we put in a polished cement floor that allowed us to slide the big crystals around without lifting them off the ground. I wanted to create a really sturdy foundation for my giant crystal specimens.
The 1000 square foot room was constructed on a strong monolithic cement slab, which was eight inches thick in the middle of the room and tapered to 24 inches thick at the perimeter foundations. We used 35 tons of pink cement to create this inverted bowl shape, on top of 45 tons of crushed gravel. I also applied tectonic principles for the architecture to create an earthquake-resistant building. Over the years, I experienced two strong quakes while I was in the crystal room. As predicted, none of the crystals fell over and only one of them wiggled a little. Once again, I feel amazingly fortunate!
Picture # 203
On moving day, we got all the big crystal clusters loaded on the truck. Then we shifted four giant sandstone and pink quartz boulders. My friends across the street let me store these enormous boulders in their front yard until I had another chance to move them. The 12 guys helped me move an extra 10,000 pounds of rock across the street on our last day in Mill Valley.
I felt like we had moved back in time. I could really identify with the pyramid builders after all this! Now I know how much work is involved in moving a two-ton boulder by hand. I can hardly imagine what it took to place the 100,000-pound stones that went into building the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
Picture # 204
These giant pink quartz boulders were eventually moved up to Fort Bragg, California. The rosy stones come from a pink mountain in a remote area of Brazil. When they dig rose quartz off the mountainside, miners let the rocks roll to the bottom. If the stone does not shatter into pieces during this rough journey then you know it is really sturdy with no fissures or cracks.
Natural faceted rose quartz crystals are always quite small (usually less than an inch long.) Any time you see a large faceted piece of rose quartz, it was cut, carved and polished out of a big pink boulder. Finding a naturally faceted rose quartz crystal larger than one inch is almost impossible. However, tiny groupings of rose quartz with citrine or smoky quartz are some of the most valuable crystals on earth.
Picture # 205
This is the very last boulder that we moved from the Mill Valley property. It was also the heaviest one. The stone weighs 3,760 pounds and is 4' wide by 4' tall. There was no way that the 13 of us could shift its gigantic weight. Our combined weight was only about half of what the stone weighed. We ended up using the lift gate from the rental truck to stand it up to full height.
It did not stay there long because one of my friends bought the two rosy boulders and moved them to his farm in Fort Bragg. Once again, I felt blessed that someone else loved the crystals as much as I did.
Picture # 206
I spent 21 happy years there. The talented Celestine Star created all the photos of our big crystal move. At some point, you will be able to see her You-Tube movie featuring my seven-foot tall amethyst geode gliding gracefully across the crystal room with 12 dance partners. It is amazing what a dedicated crew of workers can do.
The next day, I drove the final truckload of crystals to their new home in Salinas. It was my 59th birthday. After driving 21 truckloads of crystals in 29 days, I went to bed for two weeks of complete rest. Talk about a lot of work!
Picture # 207
To purchase Book 2 in the "Crystal Collecting with Crystal Bill" series Crystal Love Story, go to www.ElegantCrystals.com