STRATFORD - Carol Harris has been fascinated by rocks ever since she was a girl, even when she was helping to pick up rocks out of the field on the Belmond-area farm where she grew up. "I still just like looking at rocks," she said with a simple shrug and a smile.
That fascination led her to open her own business in Stratford that's focused on-what else?-rocks. Inside the simple metal building that houses Carol's Rock Engraving, the showroom of the newest business in town displays samples of what Harris can do with many varieties of rocks. There are numerous memorial plaques that she engraves with a sandblaster, along with jewelry, geode slices, and other unique decorative items.
Customers can also place an order for a personalized rock that Harris engraves with a name or an image or even a house number. The rocks can come from the pile of rocks of all sizes that are at the home where Harris lives between Stratford and Dayton, or they may be a rock that's special to the customer. "Rocks might come right off the farm or maybe from the home place," Harris said.
Carol Harris places an engraved rock in a display in her new shop in Stratford. Carol’s Rock Engraving is open on Saturdays, 10 a.m to 4 p.m. and also by appointment by calling (515) 290-2024.
Some folks like to have a large rock in their front yard with their name on it, or maybe they get a special rock made indicating that theirs is a century farm. There have been rocks engraved for birthdays and anniversaries, too. She has done some tombstones but says that personalized memorial plaques are more popular.
Whatever it is, Harris enjoys working with customers to develop what they have in mind. Even though they are probably not as fascinated by rocks as she is, "I want people to look - really look - at nature," Harris said. "Have you ever really looked at a rock?"
Well, Harris will help you do just that. Do you know the difference between a Brazil agate and a blood agate? Are you looking at a piece of petrified wood, perhaps? Or is that rock a geode?
Before she had her own building, Harris and her husband, Kerry, took a trailer to fairs and festivals and flea markets around the area, where her work was popular. It has gone to England, Ireland, Alaska, Hawaii, and Illinois. It helps that Kerry has equipment to load, unload and set the rocks if needed.
Her most memorable project? A veterans memorial in Havelock, Iowa, that is "just beautiful," Harris noted.
Rocks may not be the most common art medium around, but it suits Harris just fine. "I have lots of fun doing this," she states. "I try to stay reasonable with prices so people can do this."
Carol's Rock Engraving is open on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and also by appointment by calling (515)290-2024.