The William Holland School of Lapidary Arts is situated on a mountain in north Georgia near the North Carolina border. It is a Rockhound's Dream come true. Here, near Young Harris College, is a special school that is like no other in the United States. The serious Rockhound can learn how to turn rough gems into family keepsakes. With dedication and determination, an inspired group of hobbyists is making it possible for many others to enjoy the fruits of their knowledge.
The lapidary arts include all the skills that are required to make custom jewelry. At the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts, classes are taught by volunteer instructors in such procedures as faceting, silversmithing, the making of cabochons, wire crafting, wax modeling and casting, bead knotting and design, and opal cutting. Some weeks also include chain making, stained glass, basket making, and copper tooling. Gem and mineral identification classes are also offered. Students learn to use all the special tools and shop safety is stressed. Each student carries home the fruits of his or her efforts as well as fond memories of new acquaintances.
The facilities include a main building (lodge) of two stories whose upper ground floor is like a motel with 29 bedrooms, each with a private bath and two beds, one double and one twin. Two bedrooms are equipped for the handicapped. The lower ground level contains 13 classrooms, the kitchen, and dining room. Each bedroom has a ceiling fan and air-conditioning was added during the 1997 season. A separate building, the Seabolt Building, houses the George Kasper Memorial Library. This building also has facilities for a campground with 10 spaces with full hookups. On September 1, 2001, we opened Mary Lou's Cottage. This building will be used by the instructors. There are 8 bedrooms, a kitchen and common area.
The school is named for a deceased past president of the Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies. The creation of the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts was built thorough the personal philanthropy of Harold Sparks, another SFMS past president, and his wife Mary Lou. Much of the construction work was a volunteer effort of many members of the Southeast Federation. Furnishings and workshop equipment were donated by various clubs and societies in the Southeast Federation of Mineralogical Societies. Harold has passed away but his family still operate the school for the benefit of rockhounds throughout the United States.
The school is operated from April through October with certain weeks being set aside for special workshops sponsored by and for members of the Southeast Federation. All rockhounds are eligible to participate during the remainder of the season. Classes are of one week duration, and the courses vary during the time the school is in operation. A student takes one class for the week.
The workshop week begins on Sunday with check-in after 3:00 p.m.; dinner is at 6:00 p.m. Classes start at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. Tuesday night is generally scheduled for an auction with items donated by students and instructors. Proceeds go into classroom equipment and supplies.
By Fred R. Sias Jr, 1996
William Holland School has OPEN (to everyone) classes during non-federation weeks - April through October. Call or email the school for more information.