This feature is devoted to one of the personalities within the meteorite community. This month we are delighted to share an interview we had with Laura Atkins.
(MT) What or who got you interested in meteorites and how old were you when you got your first meteorite?
(LA) I have always been a rock hound, treasure hunter, artifact and fossil finder since I can remember, and even have some of them still to this day from when I was very young child. I admire them fondly, but they have only memory value. I started hunting meteorites specifically in my adult life, with my Nephew Larry Atkins. Our passion and our like views and spirit, make the exchange of ideas and curiosity a natural thing for us. I can remember a time he would talk about going to the Tucson Gem and Mineral show, and I wanted to go terribly, but wasn’t able to get away from work. Later and with a different job, I said, “I’m going”, and that was pretty much the start of my great meteorite adventures.
(MT) What was your first meteorite?
(LA) My first meteorite was a Gold Basin, found 2 of them on first trip two mornings in a row about 100 feet or less from camp…then nothing the rest of the trip. Nothing too big to brag about, just about the size of a half dollar, but still my first find.
(MT) Do you still have it?
(LA) Yes, I still have them and out on display too!
(MT) Do you have special areas of interest that you focus on in regards to meteorites (thin sections, photography, chemistry, age dating.. etc.)?
(LA) The hunt is one of my favorite parts of the experience, searching for these rare treasures has me thinking about them daily and yearning to head out for a search. The excitement is like no other! I watch and listen for reports, and get that feeling every time it looks like there is a possibility for a find.
I am a very visual person, so the meteorite itself, thin sections, composition, and the story behind each one is the source for my artwork. I am currently working on a body of work pertaining to meteorites, and specific finds. I look for specific meteorites, and when I come across one that has a great story or has a look that I feel I can use for inspiration, I purchase the piece and use the actual meteorite and its story in the works. I combine research, computer graphics, and hand printing on rice papers and different substrates for the final pieces. Some are graphically hidden in the piece, and also done as assembly, with the actual piece shown in the work unaltered. I have plans to show at the Tucson Gem & Mineral show in 2016.
(MT) Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?
(LA) Yes, my Nephew Larry Atkins and my brother Brent Hiller, along with myself get together every year to go on one major hunt. I have several other nephews that hunt and collect as well, so I guess you could call it a family thing. Everyone in the family is very supportive and understands the drive, even if they don’t go out in the field.
(MT) Do you have any special approaches to collecting
(LA) As for approaches, that goes back to my artwork, and what I feel I would like to work with in the piece. It is win win for me on collecting. I learn daily about the science, the piece itself and its history. Pallasites, irons, rare finds, all falls collectively peak my interest. I don’t have a humidity controlled storage, so that does affect my decisions in collecting specific pieces.
(MT) Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?
(LA) Just a small collection at this time.
(MT) Is your collection displayed or kept in a dry box or both?
(LA) Both. I keep a few out on display, but some are kept in a locked safe.
(MT). In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites. (met-list, Social Media, meteorite research, shopping, etc.)
(LA) All of the above. I read and research different types, and study as much as I can about them by classification. I use the American Meteor Society pages for research on new sightings and information, and search eBay occasionally for particular meteorites if I’m looking to buy. Some of the most interesting views come from the conversations in the meteorite-list.
(MT) Do you ever hunt for meteorites?
(LA) Yes, I generally go out to AZ every year for a couple of weeks to do some hunting. Sometimes successful, and sometimes not. I recently have been going out doing some interviews on some sighted falls and making contacts.
(MT) What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?
(LA) Kediri, L4. This came from a trade with ASU. I made the trade to acquire the Kediri, for a nice Indian Butte that I found out in Stanfield, AZ.
(MT) What is your favorite overall if it is not the one above?
(LA) Indian Butte, since this was my most major find.
(MT) What makes these of special interest?
(LA) For the Indian Butte, I was one of the hunters that got to experience that incredible hunt and had a great find. There were about 12 of us out there putting in a lot of hours in a dangerous setting. That particular hunt was one of the highlights of a lifetime! The energy, friendship, and camaraderie was like nothing I had ever experienced, and a true reason for engaging in the search for these treasures. I made many lifetime friends.
(MT) What meteorites are currently on your wish list?
(LA) I think Seymchan is next on the list…I have a few others in mind as well, but just one at a time. I just purchase a couple of Allende slices for some artwork, so that particular search is over for right now. I’m now looking for just the right Seymchan to catch my eye!
(MT) What methods have been most successful in building your collection? (Buying at shows, from dealers by mail, auctions on the web, trading… etc)
(LA) Finding them myself offers the greatest satisfaction! All other pieces have been thru trade, gift or searching the met-list or ebay.
(MT) Which Shows do you attend?
(LA) Tucson Gem & Meteorite Show which is so amazing. There is something about that show that makes me want to go every year! If you have ever been, you will understand!
(MT) Do you also collect related materials like impact glasses,
(LA) I don’t have any at this time, but do hope to add them to my collection.
(MT) Do you prepare any of your own specimens? (cut, polish, etch,etc.)
(LA) No, that is something that I have to rely on the experts to handle.
(MT) Have you had to take any special measures to protect them from the environment?
(LA) Not yet because I try to be selective with my purchases.