April 1, 2015
Near the heart of Advent Christian Village is a special hobby center where creative people enjoy building bookshelves, making jewelry, and painting landscapes.
Housed in the Watkins Woodworking and Lapidary Shop is the equipment used by the Watkins Hobby Shop Club. A large, well-equipped building, the Watkins Shop is ground zero for all sorts of creative construction by woodworkers and lapidaries. Lapidaries are artisans who work with stones — cutting and polishing them in order to make items such as jewelry and decorations.
The shop is open to ACV members and employees who wish to join. (Membership is $20 for woodworking and $15 for lapidary.) While neither shop is considered a teaching shop — it is best if you already have basic knowledge of the craft — some members are willing to give instruction on new equipment or to give refresher courses on techniques that haven’t been used in a while.
Personal projects are always in progress by various members. Some past woodworking projects have included bunk beds, yard swings and dollhouses. One member is currently gearing up to build a grandfather clock. Lapidary members are known to be real rock hounds, decorating their homes like gem museums. It is required that members working on personal projects provide their own materials: wood, paint, hardware, glue, etc. The shop does have some materials members may purchase in a pinch, but those materials are available on a first come, first served basis.
Materials are provided free of charge to members working on the Christmas Toy Project — the group project the shop works on all year. The Christmas Toy Project is their yearly donation to Toys for Sparky’s Kids, “a nonprofit community outreach program committed to helping to enable those who are less fortunate provide joy Christmas morning.” Sparky’s Kids is a project of the Live Oak Fire Department and the Watkins Hobby Shop Club has been providing hundreds of toys to them the past four years.
When the shop first opened, the members were excited to have the facility and equipment available to them, but they did not have a group purpose. It wasn’t long before they took on the Christmas Toy Project and now the members have a year-long goal to reach — something to focus on. In fact, others in the Village who are not members of the Hobby Shop Club have joined in on the effort, making doll bed quilts and other toys to donate. Commenting on the quality of the toys donated this past Christmas, Suwannee County Sherriff and Toys for Sparky’s Kids Spokesman Tony Cameron said, “They are so nice, it makes you want them for your own kids.”
The woodworking side of the Watkins Shop is equipped with an air filtration system, dust collector system, a sanding room, a finishing room, and numerous pieces of equipment, including a table saw, compound miter saw, two band saws, a drill press, belt sander, spindle sanders, lathe, drill presses, scroll saws, planer, joint planer, and a plethora of electric hand tools. The lapidary shop is equipped with everything a lapidary needs for cutting, polishing, faceting, setting and making jewelry. A large store of stones and findings — the items a lapidary uses to set and decorate their stones — are ready to be made into something beautiful. There is also a room full of resources with books dedicated to crafting at any experience level.
The Watkins Woodworking and Lapidary Shop is open Monday through Friday 9–11 a.m. or by appointment. Those interested in more information may reach Club President Dick Grillo at (386) 658-5557.