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chinese jade


Rock & Mineral Identification

Geologist Sara Kurth presents an introduction to rocks and minerals. Learn to identify minerals through basic hands-on identification including observation skills and hardness tests, great for teachers and rockhounds. This program qualifies for Boy & Girl Scout merit badges. Scout groups require adult supervision. Teachers can earn Professional Development credit for this class. For more information regarding P.D. credit contact the Museum Educator at

10:30 a.m. – 75 minutes – Ages 8 yrs. to Adult
Saturday Classes: Feb. 6, & March 5
Fee: $5.00 per person, Museum mebers $3.00
Reservations Required: (630) 833-1616.

“Olympic Fossils”

Geared for middle and high school students competing in Science Olympiad tournaments, this class delves into the world of fossils. Hand samples of fossils will be available, as well as a Power Point lecture that will provide students and opportunity to ask questions and learn tips for fossil identification.

75 minutes – Ages 10 to 18 yrs.
Saturday Classes: Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. & Feb. 13 at 10:30 a.m.
Fee: $5.00 per person, Museum Members $3.00
Reservations Required: (630) 833-1616

January 16
“Dinosaur Discoveries”


Children become dinosaur detectives with “Paleontologist Illinois Bones” to learn about the world of dinosaurs. Fossils and props are used to create an awareness of dinosaur characteristics. See live animals and how they are related to dinosaurs.

Interactive Lecture - Ages 4 yrs. to Adult -
2 p.m. - 50 minutes
Admission: $5.00 per person, Museum Members Free
Reservations Recommended – (630) 833-1616

February 27
“Soapstone Carving”


Lapidary Lorel Abrell teaches participants how to successfully carve soapstone. Simple tools and techniques are used in carving this soft and inexpensive material. Learn the basics from blocking out a design to final polish. Take home a carving of your own creation. All materials are included.

Activity - ages 9 yrs to Adult - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Fee: $15.00 per person – Museum Members $10.00
Reservations Required: 630-833-1616


March 5
“Stone Setting Workshop”

Lapidary artists Karen Davé and Pat Koko will show processes used to create your own settings for cut or rough stone that does not require glue. Techniques will include wire wrap, prong and bezel settings. Participants will create their own piece to take home. All materials are included.

Workshop – Ages 12 to Adult – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Fee: $25.00 per person, Museum Members $20.00
Reservations Required (630) 833-1616.

March 12
“Geology as Destiny: Across the Chicago Portage, a story of Glaciers, Voyageurs,
and Carp!"

Geologist, David Dolak presents Chicago’s pre-eminence as the largest metropolitan area in the middle of North America is a result of the fortuitous conditions of access across the Mid-Continental watershed divide created by glacial processes over the past 10,000 years. The Chicago Portage water passage has been used by Native Americans, European voyageurs, and was ultimately exploited by the famous reversal of the Chicago River. This led to great economic and population growth in the Region along with environmental costs. The lecture will include a live performance of an original song with lyrics based on these topics.

Lecture – Youth to Adult – 2 p.m. - 60 minutes
Regular Museum Admission, Museum Members Free
Reservations Recommended (630) 833-1616

March 19
“Mazon Creek Fossil Collecting Field Trip”


Join Jim Fairchild of the Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois on a trip to Braidwood, Illinois to collect Mazon Creek fossils at the world famous site Pit 11. (Conditions permitting.) Learn what to look for when collecting these special fossils and how to open them. Travel by motor coach, bring a sack lunch and get ready to collect. Make reservations early, this field trip fills up fast!

Field Trip - 8 yrs. to Adult - 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
$30.00 per person, Museum Members $25.00
Reservations Required: (630) 833-1616

Some Thoughts on Collecting Chinese Art Objects

Joseph Lizzadro’s lapidary hobby allowed him to give gifts of his hand-made jewelry; cuff links and tie bars for men and pendants, rings and brooches for women. He was prolific and made jewelry by the dozens for relatives, friends and business associates. Most of his jewelry was set in silver with agates and jaspers. Many of the stones he had found himself on rock hunting trips. In time, he wanted to work with more precious stone.

In the 1940s he decided to work with jade. At that time the general public did not have an interest in jade art objects. Mr. Lizzadro was told by a dealer that the Chinese were cutting up old art objects to make jewelry. This dealer arranged for a San Francisco merchant to send a few carvings to him. The prices on these pieces were actually less than rough chunks of jade of equal quality and weight. Mr. Lizzadro purchased a couple of these pieces with the idea to cut them up and make cuff links, pendants and other jewelry.

Fortunately the more he looked at these pieces, the more intrigued he became and like so many people, he began to enjoy the special feeling resulting from handling carved and polished jade. One of the first carvings he acquired was the green jadeite hanging bottle or hu, now the Museum’s logo. Its shape derives from ancient bronzes of the Shang Dynasty (1523-1028 B.C.) Carved from one piece of multi-colored jadeite, the hu is nearly 7 inches high and hangs from a graceful yoke. A continuous chain connects the lid of the hu to the yoke. A pair of birds fly toward each other. One holds a flower bud, the other a leaf, symbolizing happiness and longevity in marriage. This carving may have been a wedding gift. The body of the hu depicts a low-relief tao-tie and scrolling cloud design also drawing from the Shang Dynasty. The clouds represent good fortune and the stylized tao-tie mask warns against greed and gluttony. Based on its material and symbolic motifs this piece was likely created in the later part of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

As Joseph Lizzadro held the carving in his hands, he appreciated the work that had gone into making it. Then comparing it to paintings, bronze, and ivory pieces, he realized jade had to be more valuable. He concluded that for every piece of jade carving like this, there were thousands of paintings. Jade of this quality was not readily available; and for every hour it took to finish the painting, months of hard work were required to make the jade piece. He knew about the hard work because it took him more than an hour to drill a simple 1/16 inch hole in a 1/4 inch thick slab of jade using an electric drill with carborundum grit in a small brass tube.

This hu hanging bottle sparked a concerted effort to acquire what he considered terrific bargains. It also sparked an interest in learning about jades and Chinese art objects. Because of his lapidary hobby and working with stone Mr. Lizzadro became an astute buyer of jade and other carvings.

Mr. Lizzadro began to attend public auctions and estate sales where hard stone carvings were being offered for sale. For a period of at least five to eight years he had very little competition in bidding. Most people knew nothing about what was being auctioned. He was able to greatly increase the size of his collection. At one Chicago auction with about two hundred bidders present, a rock crystal quartz bottle with high relief carving was offered. The bidding opened at forty dollars. There were only two persons present who realized the value of the bottle and Mr. Lizzadro obtained it for one hundred eighty dollars. Today a bottle like this is worth several thousand dollars. He remembers that two ladies seated behind him, not realizing he was the high bidder, commented that a person had to be crazy to pay that much for a glass bottle. They did not recognize the value and beauty of this rock crystal quartz carving. This, he points out, would not happen today as the general public has come a long way in recognizing the beauty and value of these objects.


Joseph Lizzadro at his lapidary workshop desk shows his prolific work in creating jewelry and cutting & polishing stone.

Until his death in 1972, Joseph Lizzadro purchased a variety of hard stone carvings, but his real love was jade. After becoming known as a collector, he had offers from all parts of the country, so he could be selective. His interest was not in ancient pieces although some pieces in the collection are old; he searched for pieces of good material and workmanship and appealing to the eye.

As the Lizzadro Museum embarks on a new era, the collection is being looked at with new information. In particular, the Chinese jades will receive more interpretation to better relate the collection to the public. Our Special Exhibit “Symbolism in Chinese Jade” opening February 23 will feature a few pieces in the Museum’s permanent collection of jade carvings and focus on interpreting their meaning through their visual motifs.

Excerpted and updated from the Lizzadro Museum Publication Spring-Summer, 1972.

Lytle, Miriam Anderson, The Lizzadro Collection, 1982.

Bartholomew, Terese Tse, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, 2006.

Knight, Michael, et al., Later Chinese Jades Ming Dynasty to Early Twentieth Century From The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2007.


New Programs

Girl Scout Jewelry Badge
In collaboration with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the Lizzadro Museum has provided a new opportunity to support the Girl Scouts of DuPage County. Girl Scout Juniors can now earn their jewelry badge and learn about the unique art of lapidary. Girls have an opportunity to make their own gemstone jewelry to keep. This program is offered on an as needed-basis. Troops are encouraged to contact the Museum Educator at to schedule a class.

Science Olympiad “Olympic Fossils”
Are you part of a Science Olympiad team, studying for the Fossils event? We will be providing a crash course on common fossils and identification techniques. Hand samples will be available for observation. Bring your books and other resources and all your questions! A fossil teaching aid box is available for loan after the program. Interested teams, ages 10 through 18, should contact the Museum Educator at to make reservations. See the Winter Calendar for upcoming classes.

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