Stones and Shells
Genie O’Brien of Stones and Shells is one of those lucky people who got to turn the activity she loved into her business. “It was always a hobby, but then I went through a midlife career passage and the hobby became a part time enterprise,” Genie said. She specializes in shells, crystals, stones, and painted decorative gourds.
“I’m really passionate about them all, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be the shells,” Genie said. She dives in rivers near Jacksonville and Mayport for shells that she processes for days to turn them into works of art. “I dip shells in solutions, pull them out, buff them with different coarseness, then hand polish them,” Genie said.
Though there aren’t a whole lot of stones found in Florida, but she collects fossils down in Okeechobee, where she finds calcified clams in an old quarry pit. “They’ve been fossilized to the point that other stones have crystallized and grown in the fossilized shell,” Genie said. “I like them because it’s a combination of the stones and shells.”
Genie likes talking about her craft with people of all ages. “Kids gravitate to stones and shells because they like things out of the earth and the sea,” she said. “I enjoy working with kids because they have natural wonder and curiosity.”