The Chicago area is known for its outstanding museums. But my boyfriend, Paul, and I actually went to one I’d never heard of, and I’ve lived here my whole, l-o-n-g life. We recently discovered The Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art in Oak Brook, Illinois. Lapidary relates to stone and gems and the craft involved in engraving, cutting and polishing.
The Lizzardo Museum displays more than 200 pieces of extraordinary jade and other hard stone carvings from around the world in addition to uncarved rocks that are naturally impressive. We spent the afternoon gazing at each piece, thoroughly intrigued with the mastery required to create such magnificent items and the stunning beauty of the large, uncut stones.
I loved the traditional jade green pieces but was surprised to learn jade can be found in other colors. Here is a carving of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, in Jadeite Jade (early 20th century). Notice the lovely lilac, blue, and even gold shadings.
Here are others with such variations.
At the museum, you can find sculptures in other substances and stones, as well. Here are a couple of the ivory pieces on display. Some of these pieces have the delicacy of lace.
This figure is made from rich, green malachite.
And this exquisite box consists of numerous elements including Malachite, Rhodochrosite, Gold in Quartz, Sugilite, Turquoise, Jade, Copper Ore, Lake Superior Agate, Datolite, and Opalized Palm Wood
The most massive carving at Lazzardo is the Altar of the Green Jade Pagoda, (Jade/Jadeite on Teakwood with Cloisonné, 1933, Designed by Chang Wen Ti, China). Carved from a nine-ton boulder from Myanmar, the altar consists of over 1,000 pieces of jade and took 150 skilled jade carvers more than ten years to complete. The masterpiece was donated to the Lizzardo Museum in 2018.
Other amazing works include the Florentine and Roman stone mosaics. No matter how closely I looked at these intricate pieces, I could not see the tiny stones. To me, it was if the scenes were painted.
Castle Lizzardo, an 18 K gold sculpture with diamond windows, is magical. The detail is extraordinary. The added stones appear as if the castle sets right into them.
Other pieces include this one titled, Mountain, which is carved from Lapis Lazuli (China),
The striation in the following vase comes from a stone called Blue John Fluorite. The vase sits on an Ashford Marble Base (late 20th century, England).
This lovely Madonna is carved from Rutilated Smokey Quartz (Germany) and leans with the flow of the stone.
And this Italian pitcher and German bird carving are made from Rock Crystal Quartz. I can’t imagine using such a spectacular and fragile pitcher.
I love the graceful movement of the Dancing Angel by Glenn Lehrer which is made from Drusy Agate with Silver on an Obsidian base (U.S.A.).
The museum also has dozens of cameos.
This one is part of a temporary exhibit of cameos based on the legendary tale of Faust.
And don’t miss the back of the museum where the unsculptured rock formations can be found.
Here is large piece of Fossilized Conifer Wood. The changes in the nature of the bark offers much to ponder.
The bright, lively Rhodochrosite is certainly eye-catching.
And check out these beauties – Rubies in Zoisite
Angel Wing Calcite
In addition, the museum features a wall of dioramas the children will enjoy. The miniatures in these scenes were carved from gemstones in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.
Mining is showing destruction of the rainforest and other natural habitats, so I believe it’s important to appreciate the carvings we have rather than gathering any more of precious stones. The Lizzardo Museum offers much to enjoy.
The Lizzardo Museum is located at 1220 Kensington Road, Oak Brook, Illinois, 60523. You can reach them at 630-833-1616 and find their website here.
Admission is reasonable and varies by age-adults $10; seniors $8; students, teens, and children aged 7-12 $5; and children 6 and under are free. Members of the Lizzadro Museum and active members of the Armed Forces are admitted free of charge on any day the Museum is open to the public.
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