Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 18
THE LOVE OF LAPIDARY
For Ellis and Jackie Bray,"It's all about the rocks"
by Zach Smith |
Depending on what the rock
says, a piece from the Brays
usually involves more than one
discipline to turn gems into
he paints, and he
jewelry. A combination of bead
turns wizened roots
and leather work, silversmithinto walking sticks.
ing or Jackie's specialty of wire
He writes poetry,
wrapping often come into play
and she, a master garwith more unique centerpieces
dener, etches jade. They
such as geodes or fossils. Just
both have a passion for
as Ellis cuts and polishes to
Bible study and American
enhance the rock's desirable
Indian artwork. But for all
traits, Jackie wraps in order
the interests separate and
to accentuate some feature of
shared between Jackie
the stone. Or shell, arrowhead,
and Ellis Bray, one saying
bear claw or bullet. All of them
stands true: They never
end up as either "cabbage" or
met a rock they didn't like.
"lettuce," according to Jackie.
"It started out as a
"Hot off the wheel if I like
hobby," Jackie says of the
them, I 'cabbage' on to them,"
she smiles. "If not, I wrap them
business, Country Roots
and they go into the 'lettuce'
Creations. She laughs,
box. 'Let us' sell these so I can
gesturing with hands fessupport my cabbage box."
tooned in blue- and greenTheir creations have earned
hued stones. "Well, you
the pair numerous awards
can't wear all of this, as
and even a few copycats over
hard as I try."
the years, but their true joy is
Growing up in cencrafting custom items to ﬁt the
tral Missouri - Jackie
likes and personalities of their
in Eldon, Ellis in Vienna
customers. In such situations
- playing in the creeks
and woods looking for eye- Each piece crafted by Country Roots Creations starts at the cutting wheel. Ellis Bray shapes and later polishes the stone before Jackie is known to conduct
catching rocks came natu- handing it off to his wife, Jackie, who accentuates the rock's character with other techniques such as wirewrapping, beads and leather. interviews with customers to
help ﬁnd their perfect piece.
rally to the Three Rivers
The rocks too have their own qualities and quirks to admire. Ellis lovingly
Electric Cooperative members. When they moved from Indiana back to their
childhood stomping grounds in the 1990s, the Brays started combining their turns a piece of Tiffany Stone, pointing out a small hole in the purple and white
rockhound roots with an admiration of jewelry design. They mined for sap- ﬂecked pendant. Light beams through a piece of clear quartz he's adhered to
phires and rubies in North Carolina, crystals in Arkansas and twice a year the back of the stone.
"Other people would steer away from that - 'it's a ﬂaw' - but look at how
took weeklong trips to the William Holland School of Lapidary in Young Harris,
pretty it is," Ellis muses. "Well, section four of my class: 'Rocks don't have
Georgia, to start learning the craft.
ﬂaws, rocks got features!' "
Following the self-prescribed philosophy, "it's all about the
The Bray's enthusiasm for geology stretches well beyond what they can
rocks," Ellis eventually grew bored with cutting calibrated caboturn into necklaces, pendants, money clips, bola ties and other striking
chons - the standardized oval shape commonly found in gemaccessories. They're frequent ﬁxtures at club and community rock and
stone jewelry. The more he noticed different colors and designs
gem shows around the Show-Me State, including the Osage Rock and
inherent in the stones, the more he wanted to cut outside the lines.
Mineral Club's June 29-July 1 show at the Eldon Community Center.
"I started bringing Mozarkite there, cutting it the way I saw it,
The duo has crafted numerous displays to share their love of
and right from the ﬁrst realized I had a gift for that," Ellis says.
earth science. Two trays of seemingly ordinary creek rocks and
Soon after he found himself creating and teaching the school's
minerals explode into wild rainbows of ﬂuorescent color under
advanced cabochon course. "Cabbing is more art than science.
Ellis' ultraviolet lamps. Another exhibit showcases the near endScience works to control a few variables; art negotiates with many."
less variety in petriﬁed wood and dendritic fossils of moss and
Of the 10,000 pieces Ellis has cut over the years, roughly oneferns. Along with their jewelry, these displays bring a smile and
quarter have been Missouri's state stone, Mozarkite. Because of the
sense of wonder to both kids and kids at heart.
variety of hues and patterns in the rock, which is difﬁcult to cut but takes a
"We love to show rocks in central Missouri," Jackie says. "Part of it is educathigh polish, he says no two are alike. He forms each to highlight a unique trait
or image that he sees, such as a hummingbird hiding in Mozarkite or the tex- ing locals, and part of it is just for us."
"We've just tried to use our gifts in everything we do," Ellis adds. "And we
ture of eagle feathers lurking in a piece of petriﬁed wood.
"Even before you cut it there's something about that rock," Ellis says. "You love learning."
have to be able to see the essence, the shape, the whole bit."
For more information on jewelry and other pieces by Country Roots Creations,
"The rock will tell you how it wants to be dressed," Jackie adds. "Ellis will
call Ellis and Jackie Bray at 573-392-6764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
orient it the way he sees it and I can guarantee almost every time I turn it."
RURAL MISSOURI | JULY 2018
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2018
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 4
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 5
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 6
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 7
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 8
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 9
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 10
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Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover4