Retired Alpena teacher uses love of rocks, YouTube channel to educate others

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Rob Abram shows off a rock that has completed the polishing process that takes weeks to complete.

ALPENA — A retired teacher in Alpena is using his knowledge and love of rock hunting and polishing to educate those who also have the same passion for those hobbies.

Rob Abram enjoys spending time combing the beach, looking for rocks to take home and tumble until they are nice and smooth and polished. Although he doesn’t collect rocks, he uses his Youtube channel called Michigan Rocks to share his adventures, and tips, with almost 39,000 subscribers.

Abram films outdoors on the beach and in his basement, a combination rock-workshop and studio. He has all the tools needed to not only shine stones up, but also cut them into shapes like turtles, crosses, guitar picks, and Michigan’s mitten shape for jewelry.

He has containers full of polished rocks of many kinds, and some favorites that are on display in his work area.

Abram said anywhere there are rocks is a good place to look for unique rocks, but admitted he keeps very few when he is on the beach. He said, most often, if he sees a rock that catches his eye, he picks it up, admires it, then tosses it aside for others to find. When the amount of rocks at home gets to a certain point, he said, he takes them back to the shore and returns them to their natural home.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Tucked away on his work bench among some raw and polished rocks is an award Abram won for his polishing skill. He said although it is a long process, he likes seeing the final product when a polished stone is done.

“I don’t like having a ton or raw rocks around just to have them,” he said. “If I can’t do something with a rock I usually just leave it there. In fact, I had too many in the house, so I took them back and threw them back in the lake for someone else to find.”

Abram said he spends hours filming and editing his videos for YouTube, but enjoys helping others learn more about tumbling and polishing rocks. He said when he finds a rock that others may keep, and he tosses in the water, sometimes they can’t believe it. Abram said he also likes interacting with his followers, who often reach out to him with questions and comments.

“I started doing them one a week and now twice a week and it is a fun little hobby,” he said. “I reply to almost every comment and if there is a question (where) I give the most in-depth answer, I can.”

Abram combs through beaches all over Michigan and beyond, in the water and on the shore. He said he loves being outdoors, although seeing the final product from a rock he is polishing is a thrill, especially since he had to wait weeks for the process to complete.

Abram said he doesn’t run the YouTube channel for gratification, but instead to help others who are just getting started in the hobby. He said if he gets a question he doesn’t know the answer to, he will do research, or contact someone who will, and then share what he learned later.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Rob Abram shows off a tool that helps to smooth rocks. Each band has a different degree of coarseness used on rocks that are strong, and others that are softer.

“I try to help, but I still learn a lot too,” he said. “Every once in a while I’ll get a comment either nicely correcting me, or sharing information with me. That is good, because then I can pass that along to my viewers too.”

Right now, YouTube is primarily where Abram posts his material. He doesn’t have a Facebook page for Michigan Rocks, and he is new to Instagram.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Abram shows off a rock he finds unique during a walk on a beach near Alpena last week. He tosses the rock back into the water, as he keeps few of the rocks he picks up to examine.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Abram looks for rocks in the lake and on shore. He uses a long scoop to pull them out of the water. He carries a bucket to put the ones he does decide to keep into.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The difference between the raw appearance of a pudding stone, and one that is polished is clear. Abram said some rocks polish better than others, and some are more appealing unpolished.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Rocks Abram finds interesting he will keep and show to others. He said some of the rocks he has are rare to the Alpena area, but others, like pudding stones and Petoskey stones are common.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Abram has rocks of nearly every size, color, and shape in this storage cabinet. Each container is labeled so he can easily access them when needed.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz


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