“Jesus is my Rock” is the t-shirt Trevor Looney often wears when selling his beautiful natural rock picture frames, handmade one-of-a-kind polished stones and steel decorator items.
The picture frames are by far the most popular product but the product line is slowly expanding to include coasters, clocks, candles and even license plate frames.
He also has a beautiful story of redemption and second chances.
Currently his business, Miniature Masonry, is a one-man operation.
“It is me and God,” he said. “God is the artist, he makes the rocks beautiful, I just give them purpose.”
Looney lives in Stevensville and sells his items at Stone Cottage in Hamilton, occasionally at Hamilton Farmers Market, at Dillard’s in Missoula and Billings, at Madison Home in Spokane, Washington, online at Amazon, Etsy and on his own website www.miniaturemasonry.com.
Looney travels to big shows across the country. Most of the rocks are from Montana but has an occasional one from his travels.
All the frames hang horizontally and vertically, so that the picture and orientation can be changed as needed. They all come with a stand and a 50-pound drywall anchor.
“So, you don’t have to find a stud,” he said.
The frames are made by the natural shape of the solid stones.
“They are ultimately natural edges on all sides,” Trevor said. “I have had some shaped close to the shape of Montana but they don’t sell any quicker.”
The prices are set in relation to their size, type of material and rarity of stone. Prices range from $80 - $400 for the frames and the largest is always getting larger.
Looney creates beautiful unique show pieces.
“A picture can be one of the most important items a person owns, or one of the most enjoyed pieces of art, and rarely does a frame come close to matching that beauty,” he said. He uses “the God-given beauty of real stone and couples it with excellent craftsmanship to create a piece of work as unique and beautiful as the owner.”
Looney’s unique story about why he is in business gives him a purpose.
His goal is to glorify God.
Four years ago Looney was traveling a different path.
After graduating from the University of Montana with a Bachelor's in accounting and a Master's in Business (MBA) he got into drugs, was arrested for robbing casinos all over the state of Montana using fake payout tickets.
Looney said that at his lowest point after being arrested he opened a book his grandmother had given to him about 20-years earlier called “God’s Promises.”
“It had the scripture for 2 Corinthians 4:9. ‘Cast down but not destroyed’ and that made me feel like God was telling me I could turn my life around and do better,” he said. “I started going to church in the jail and was there for 13 months.”
After serving 389 days in jail, he was released.
“After over a year not seeing trees or grass, focusing on anything more than 30 feet away, wearing anything other than orange, turning a door handle or flipping a light switch it was an intense experience, overwhelming for sure,” Looney said.
He was released and went to work for the jail minister who had a stone masonry company.
“God has done some much for me,” Looney said. “It was not easy work, but I learned how to work and how to craft stone.”
Looney said he grew close to his grandma and was baptized by her church in the Columbia River.
“I felt that being baptized with her was right since it was her spark that lit my fire,” he said.
He started a company to sell do-it-yourself stone masonry kits then decided to make stone masonry items and sell them on his own. His business started small then grew.
In addition the frames he sells cross rocks which are the cutouts from the frames with a cross symbol chiseled onto them.
“They represent ‘Jesus Rocks,’ or ‘Jesus is the Rock’ because he is my rock,” Looney said. “I’m just going to give God glory with them.”
There are seven quarries near his home so he has access to many different types of rocks.
Looney also makes clocks from diamond blades used for cutting rocks and concrete. First he polishes the blade then adds color with a blow torch and design a rock to set it on.
He shared that selling his work in person at craft sales or farmers markets always feels like he’s taking a risk as often there is a “stigma attached to Jesus” and he know being bold for Christ may cost him sales.
“Sometimes it is disheartening to get that judgmental look from people,” he said. “Ultimately, I owe all my success to God. If they had any idea what I have been through, who I used to be, what I have done, and what He pulled me from, I don't think they would judge so easily. With God on my side, I can handle whatever comes and know if I do my best the outcome is ultimately in His hands.”
Looney said fellow Christians complimenting him on his boldness is “always a blessing.”
He is still repairing his credit, making restitution and paying other expenses from his old life but is going forward and walking with His Lord and Savior.
“It gets easier with time as you walk with God in your life,” Looney said.
As for Miniature Masonry, it has been an immense blessing financially and Looney is always eager to try crafting new creations if a customer has a special request.
“If you have something in mind we do not have examples of, please reach out,” he said. “I would love to try new things and promise it will turn out beautiful.”