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Sea Glass Safari

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“I tramp a perpetual journey.”-Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

My sixteen year old daughter Sophia and I just returned home from a trip to the California coast. It was our first road trip together. We were headed to a Sea Glass Festival in Cayucos.

I was one of forty other sea glass artists, writers, and photographers, showing their sea glass creations in this idyllic little town, located close to Moro Bay and San Simeon.I met some of the sea glass world’s icons, like author Richard La Motte, and artist Monica Branstrom. The show was well organized and blessed with perfect weather and large crowds. It was a big success for me, due in no small part to my excellent helper, Sophia, whom I relied on in every way. She did not disappoint!

It has been a trip I will always hold dear, for so  many reasons: renewing bonds with childhood and high school  friends, seeing my brother and our eighty six year old father,(who drove up from Los Angeles with two accordions, two mandolins and a bouzouki for us from dad’s personal collection-I mean, his closet.) I got to meet Al and Celia, online customers who live in the area face to face for the first time- (they brought me gifts of almonds and wine!) The enthusiasm of new customers was wonderful-and promising for next years show.

Add to this the magic of the California coast, Carmel, Big Sur, Glass Beach, and the REDWOODS.

I will let the pictures tell the story, because I don’t have adequate words yet…

 

RbF8zC1NkKKD9A4fytLwgHMMoN5kmolYTplcK4fOcMgLAYspN Sophia on the rocks near Monterrey, CA

After two days of driving from Tokeland WA, we reached Pacific Grove, CA-John Steinbeck’s old stomping grounds. We spent two nights in the area near Cannery Row, going to the tide pools, hanging out with Monarch butterflies, and gallery scouting in downtown Carmel. At Rumble Seat Guitars we drooled over the vintage guitar display. When the sweet owners asked us if we would like to try any of them out we dropped to our knees simultaneously and shouted “We’re not worthy!” (Not) We left with free picks and lots of inspiration!

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BIG SUR

When I was Sophia’s age, I visited Big Sur for the first time, on a high school backpacking trip. The beauty I beheld then sort of split me apart. It continues to influence my art and spirit to this day….

cqOeBBo2OrbxIb6eCYSbO7ynVXCAJRZc2H5Z-vtLR1wLAYspN11058373_804991602921584_5754519074376785053_n Jewelry shoot on the beach at Big Sur where brown kelp, blue green water, craggy rocks, are my photographic muse.

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e-4UgrCA9-isyXSS-acLp_uK4BvTgb6kkXdoBvZEAwwLAYspNSophia on the porch at Nepenthe, Big Sur- a world class view of the Pacific and great food too!

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Warm sunny weather induced us to ditch our motel reservations and camp on the beach that night at LimeKiln Campground.

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We slept to the roaring of the ocean, a starry sky and half moon hanging over the ocean…

Cayucos

11033082_806663962754348_4549991225272723418_n Sophia and I before the show opened…

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11050234_806664009421010_297643368121479576_n Etched Mermaid drawing by our five year old friend Timber was a great display piece (and must have brought us luck, because Cayucos broke my previous sales records.)

10995749_974796942532942_949833681248639085_nThis sea glass, touted to be the world’s largest, was on view at the festival. It weighs five pounds four ounces and   was found on the NE coast of England.

 ramona girls reunion

Some of my Ramona Convent class mates, came up from the LA area-it was the first time we had been together in 37 years…( and we still look exactly the same 🙂 ) It was so moving to hug these girls after more than three decades!

Glass Beach

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I have been given sea glass from the famed Glass Beach in Northern CA, and am often asked if I have ever been there. This trip had to include a detour to see it for myself.

We arrived on a very foggy afternoon, after a day of driving North from Cayucos, through the Bay area and some very twisty roads in Mendocino County-wine county. After checking in to our motel we headed directly for the beach.

Fort Bragg has three historic dumps sites spanning from 1906-1967. Because of the rock formations and how they affect the tidal flow, nothing gets washed out to sea there. This is why there were multiple dump site, after one was filled another was started. Wherever there are dump sites, there is bound to be lots of glass. Glass that in this case did not get washed out to sea, but was sanded and shaped by right there, becoming buried under slag.

There are three beaches to find sea glass, each located at a former dump site.The most popular is called Beach Three.

beach one

I must say, after all the photos and hoopla I have heard about this place I tried not to expect too much. It is visited by thousands every year, many taking away buckets full of gravel and glass. We found tiny chips of green, white and brown colors in isolated areas.

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The next morning was sunny. We started the day with a visit to the Sea Glass Museum. It showcases well organized displays of sea glass found locally and around the world. It’s chock full of information about glass-how the color can change over time-such as sunlight turning clear glass purple, rarity of certain colors, and a black light display of ultra violet glass that glows green due to its uranium content. In short it is a great museum. We talked to it’s curator Capt. Cass about the local beaches. He marked the way down to beach#2 on a map. After purchasing his informative book, Beaches of Glass, we were on our merry way, back to the beach!

qmKpKPSJgX_BcLE-jMm8lGiUFkC_RdqxK5hDcsEYZygLAYspN Climbing down the cliff to Beach Two

N9dFmHZblHOdznMZ59K9b6eZ6VWNpiO7yzaIih_eCY8LAYspN This beach was nothing but sea glass! Crunching underfoot, glistening in the sun-I felt like I was in Ali Baba’s secret cave….

oZGylcqdV-brXwWkNOLFH7oUl1Vhe7jTe980wcLyXvkLAYspNDisclaimer-we did not remove any glass on the state beach or above the mean tide line.

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I tried to remember to breathe as we took it all in…I selected a few pieces of glass to bring home, being careful to take nothing that I would probably not use later.

10906065_10205271063389590_3450426046080873653_n “Mom are you done yet?”

I was completely sea glass satisfied, as we climbed back up the cliffs and headed on the the redwoods…

 

11009203_808556369231774_1196157412295245540_n Goodbye Ft Brag-until next time!

Avenue of the Giants

1497473_10205274294230359_159791877566701636_n There is nothing on earth quite like the redwoods-they are the tallest living things, and some of them are the oldest too…

10403001_10205267511620798_1804912203058670373_n World Famous drive- through wonder~ The Chandelier Tree. It is 2500 years old and appears to be thriving. It was worth the five dollars to drive through it!

The drive on the Redwood Highway, US 1 and 101 is a unique mix of history and natural wonders, seasoned with folksie roadside attractions. (Most all of it is free, with no admission charged.)

inside tree Inside the Chimney Tree-hollowed out inside for a great hobbit hole!

inside tree sophiaExiting the Chimney Tree

11018916_10205274293390338_672180339485177581_n Bigfoot lives!

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Pure Burlesque!

10882093_10205274293230334_5576228761421886947_nPaul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox at the Trees Of Mystery near Klamath, CA

There is a really great Native arts museum here. Walk through the tourist shop and take some time to go through the extensive displays of Native American artifacts. They have a wonderful collection of Northern CA tribal basketry and more…in their bookstore I bought a copy of Ishi, the Last of his Tribe for Sophia, a book I read at her age and never forgot.

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11081083_10205267537261439_6756248442824203054_n Sophia in the Avenue of the Giants-redwood root behind her…

sophia redwoods At the LadyBird Johnson Memorial Redwood Grove, near Orick CA

All Good Things…

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After we left the Trees of Mystery and got in line behind other cars following a pilot car past road construction, I saw a piece of cardboard in front of me and had no time to move around it. So I drove over it. As I did, I saw (to my horror) spikes coming out of one side-and it was plywood, not cardboard. Our car thunk thunked over the plank. I was telling myself I had imagined the spikes, when Sophia said “Mom-that board had nails coming out of it!”

There was no place to turn to the shoulder, so we stayed in the line of cars and kept driving until past the work site. I pulled over to take a look at the tires on the right side. They looked okay. So we continued driving, listening for the thumping sounds of a flat for another 80 miles, hoping to make it to the nearest Les Scwaab in Grants Pass, Oregon. That drive was pretty tense, as I thought about how everything in the trunk of the car, including our luggage, the  heavy glass for the display cases  and  an  accordion, was loaded over the spare tire. I REALLY did not want unload everything on the side of an isolated highway…But at least it wasn’t dark or raining. And…we made it to the tire shop, they checked it out and said we must have been lucky-no leaks!

That night in the hotel I dined on leftover kettle corn and wine, while watching Dance Moms on TV with Sophia. (Don’t worry, she had been properly fed.) The next morning we left Sutherlin OR for a nine hour drive to Tokeland-easy all the way!

11088391_357043457835709_5186675655956176216_n “There’s no place like home.”

Hope you have enjoyed this recounting of our road trip/sea glass sojourn. There is more I have to share, but will do that through the jewelry I plan to make!

If any of you happen to be in this SW Washington area, you might like to come to out 9th Annual Tokeland Studio Tour, Saturday April 18th from 10:00-5:00.

Thanks for joining us~

10314697_10205259860349521_8101924545776206772_n “That’s All,, Folks”

 

PS: Yesterday after I posted this, I got a call  from Jason at Three Crows Garage, in Westport WA, After fifteen months of restoration and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, She was finally ready to come home!

ghia Stopped at Washaway Beach to take this photo-Ready for the next road trip? You bet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Are Here

timbers mermaid Copper etching of Timber’s Mermaid

I am writing this post on the Lunar New Year-goat or sheep-take your pick. (I choose goat.)

Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are at a seasonal crossroads. The last weeks of winter linger, while the days grow longer and warmer.

Everywhere signs of Spring are emerging: the sounds of frog choruses at night, cherry blossoms in bud, robins singing in the early morning. The sap is moving in the trees and I feel a corresponding awakening within.  Winter’s sequestration is nearly over and it feels good to be outside again!

Something I do when the weather is good and the garage doors can stay open is etching metal (copper and shibuichi) in acid baths. The drawings of five year old Timber, daughter of Jeffro and Zela, were among my first projects.

In less than a month I will be in  California for the Cayucos Sea Glass Festival, where the theme is mermaids. Timber’s drawings will translate into great display pieces for my booth.

Here is a sneak peak at what I will be showing there:

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After a long period of grey skies and heavy rain, when the sun comes out its a call to action for beach photo shoots!

Like the changing seasons I have been developing two lines of work-one sunny and bright (the sea glass) and the other deeper and more mysterious. This has been my Winter’s endeavor. Time consuming, skill challenging, pushing my vision further. It is only the beginning, but I share it here with you:

Bacchanal Rings~

dionysus coinphoto by Marcy Merrill

Dionysos ancient Greek coin (3rd Century B.C. ) with 22kt gold, ruby, reticulated silver and 18kt hand formed band.

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Honey Bee coin, Ionia c. 305-288 B.C. with 22kt and 18kt gold, reticulated silver and yellow diamond. Photo by Marcy Merrill

stagphoto by Marcy Merrill

Artemis-Greek coin from the 2nd-1st Century B.C. featuring stag. 22KT,18KT gold,reticulated silver.

octo coinNymph- ancient Sicilian coin with octopus on reverse side, 22KT and 18KT gold, reticulated silver, diamonds. Photo by Marcy Merrill

In closing, I would like to share two  photos taken this past week on our beach here in the Center of the Universe!

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Daybreak-Cat Henge!

tokeland skyine1Sunset, Tokeland Skyline-Sophia and Raleigh

 

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Time to get back into the studio-hope to see you at Cayucos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the not too distant future

sunrise 1 7 2015 Daybreak Tokeland, WA

The month of January is well underway now-I hope everyone made it through the holiday season intact. I love the beginning of a new year, the clean- slate state of mind where plans can be formed or  momentum regained. This post will be a brief sharing of recent events and a road map for upcoming activities.  I promise to be brief as I have some projects upstairs in the studio waiting for some attention!

First: some new pieces to share:

pauls coin pendant My friends Mark and Paul went shopping for antique Japanese furnishings in Astoria, OR and discovered a cache of Chinese coins in a wooden treasure box Paul purchased. Knowing my patina fetish, they offered the coins (many had a beautiful green patina) to me. As a thank you, I made this pendant for Paul.

 

Meanwhile back on the beach…

chris silver cuff

This is a custom made cuff for Chris of North Carolina. She brought the large silver stone to me last summer when she visited the Washington coast. I designed a cuff for her of etched silver with a small pieces of green sea glass, recycled diamond, and 22kt gold rivets, spread out like constellations across the surface.

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The next ring was a birthday surprise commissioned by Al, from California,  for his wife. Deep blue English sea glass with reticulated band, 22kt gold and  diamond. I hope she loves it!

 

al finished ring

And a custom ring for a lady from Olympia, WA, who found this gem- like sea glass on our local beach….

norma wallace ring

The following two shots are of an ancient style ring of rolled silver with a Victorian era bottle stopper from the NE coast of England.

bottle stopper ring2bottle stopper ring

Speaking of sea glass-exciting news to share: I was accepted into the Cayucos Sea glass festival  to be held in March in California. I learned about this show from the Queen of Sea glass herself, Penny Parker, while visiting the coast of England last summer. It promises to be a world class showcase of sea glass and jewelry. Now is the time to make plans to visit this beautiful part of the central California coastline and see the show!

cayucos poster

And finally…one year ago, I dropped off my 1971 Karmann Ghia to have the body restored and painted at Three Crows Garage, a local shop in Westport, WA. It was a Herculean effort for the aptly named Jason, who took every pitfall and challenge in stride. The car was unveiled on my birthday last weekend….

ghia

In Tiffany Blue, of course!

It’s time to close this here, and get back to the studio. I am finishing some new chasing tools in micro sizes for  jewelry-scale designs, and sorting through sea glass for a new body of work...I hope the new year brings you excitement and resolve in all your endeavors!

sunset 1 13 2014

 

 

 

 

Winter Solstice 2014

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The shortest, darkest day in the Northern hemisphere is today. It is a powerful time for going inward to reflect, dream and plan. Add a rare new moon (in Capricorn) on the same day and you have something really potent for making positive life changes. So dive deep and reconnect with the source of what you really love-and who you truly are.

A powerful visual reminder for me to dive deep is a block print that hangs in my studio by artist Stirling Gorsuch, titled Undertow Woman. It brings to mind  the book  Women Who Run with the Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Dr.Clarissa Pinkola Estes. A reoccurring theme in it is the “rio abajo rio”  the river beneath the river. To get to this deepest place of self,  we have to leave concerns on the surface- and dive! Far below the  obligations, distractions, and interruptions that we often place in our own way. Maybe not the easiest thing to do, (but interesting how the world can manage when you are not available.) The river beneath the river is a place of deepest inspiration and clarity. Even a short time there can result in a purging of the unnecessary. A realigning of self.

undertow woman.2jpg Undertow Woman

In addition to being a wonderful muse, Undertow Woman has had a symbiotic effect on the patina process, resulting in a much bluer colors…I don’t ask  why, I just say thank you!

some pieces from the journeys of 2014

jennys cuff3Jenny’s Cuff-etched copper with silver lining, ancient Roman coin. Photo by Marcy Merrill

gorgon cuffMedusa Cuff-ancient Greek coin with etched shibuichi and gemstones. Photo by Marcy Merrill

crab and fishCancer and Pieces pendant-ancient Greek coin (circa 400 B.C.)  reticulated silver and 18kt gold. Photo by Marcy Merrill

athena cuff marcy 2Athena Cuff-etched shibuichi with amazonite and gold. Photo by Marcy Merrill

athena cuff Electra Cuff-etched shibuichi with sea glass and 22kt gold. Photo by Marcy Merrill

blue labrynth pendant Blue Labyrinth Pendant-chased shibuichi with seaglass.

tidepool uk Tide pool ring-photographed on an English  sea glass beach last summer.

 

A few favorite shots of my jewelry paired with fashion by Kucoon Designs of Los Angeles

 

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kucoon burning man

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 some photos of what inspires me everyday:

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Happy Solstice~Enjoy the return of light and with it a renewal of dreams, ideas and passion!

Made in Tokeland 2014

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Mark your calendars now for the second annual Made In Tokeland art happening, Saturday December 6th at the historic Tokeland Hotel, from 11:00-6:00 PM.

Featuring photography, wood carving, sculpture, miniatures, painting and jewelry by five Tokeland based artists; Jeffro Uitto, Earl Davis, Marcy Merrill,  Judith Altruda, Paul Havas and Mark Murphy of Astoria, OR.  A special treat will be live music by acoustic trio All In, with special guest Dinah Urell.

The Artists:

Though based on the tiny peninsula of Tokeland, Jeffro Uitto’s (Knock on Wood)  reclaimed wood furniture and sculptures have gained worldwide recognition. His US shows include the prestigious SOFA show in New York and Chicago. His work is always evolving and there will be new pieces on display.

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Earl Davis, of the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, is a carver who works in the style historically known to the Lower Columbia River, Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Earl was the recipient of the 2014 Governor’s Art and Heritage award for Young Arts Leadership. He will be showing carvings and silkscreens.

earl davis

Judith Altruda traveled to Ireland this summer to take a class in Celtic chasing with master Brain Clarke. Known for her jewelry featuring sea glass, Judith visited the beaches on the NE coast of England to hunt for sea glass and marbles. She will be debuting new jewelry that is inspired by her journey.

labyrinth log marcy

Marcy Merrill, photographer and beach cleanup crusader, has been documenting the random beach finds that wash up (or are left behind) on Washaway Beach. The images range from the sublime to the visceral (literally dead animals with their eyes popped out.) Working in alternative processes, including pinhole photography, she will most likely have her hand beaded vintage cameras on view as well.

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Mark Murphy, is a master craftsman/maker of miniature furniture, specializing in 18th/19th century pieces with a special focus on arts and crafts movement and Japanese designs. His work can be seen in museums in the mid-west and private collections worldwide.

marks

Paul Havas, 1940-2012, was a painter of light and landscapes. He taught painting at the UW, Idaho State, and Stanford, and was one of the founders of the NW Figurative Artists Alliance in 1993. He and his wife Margaret lived in Seattle and had a beach home in Tokeland, where he was inspired by to create beautiful and atmospheric paintings of local landmarks. His widow, Margaret, will have some of Paul’s paintings on display and also books about his art.

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The Tokeland Hotel  2964 Kindred Rd. (360)267-7006, is the perfect gathering place, with full restaurant, cozy lobby, and very reasonable rooms available for this event. The live music starts at 5:00, with a jam session following at 6:00. Good art, good friends, good food-Why not book a room now make a night of it?

More about this event on Facebook events, Made in Tokeland  Or call: (360)267-2326

marcy copper spiralscropped

Hope to see lots of friends from near and faraway! 

 

Celtic Chasing in Ireland

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In August I traveled to Ireland to take a class in Celtic chasing with Brian Clarke. He is a world renowned silversmith who in the past has taught classes all over North America. However nowadays  if you want to take a class with him it requires a trip to his studio in Ballinaclash, Co Wicklow. He teaches 3 one week classes per year, all in the month of August. I felt very lucky to get one of four spaces in the class. I learned about Brian from my friend and teacher Bill Dawson of Mud Bay, WA who has been to Brian’s twice before for classes and study.

IMG_20140808_090353224_HDRBrian’s studio aka The Old School House

I stayed in the nearby  village of Rathdrum. A small town with two butcher shops, seven pubs, (not all currently open) a post office, druggist, small grocery store, two bookie shops, two takeaway shops, (one Chinese, the other fish&chips) two B&B’s, and two Churches on either end of the main drag. Also a beautiful park.

IMG_20140804_072308931_HDR Main Street, RathdrumIMG_20140804_072538315 storefront window display

IMG_20140803_163312254beautiful water main hole covers along the sidewalks!

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Moores Family Butcher Shop. I suggested they have t shirts printed with their logo for tourists like me to buy-I got a bemused smile in return….

IMG_20140804_073147758 The Stirabout Inn offered a full Irish breakfast, cooked to order by inn proprietor Daphne. She even picked me up at the train station when I arrived from Dublin. A true home away from home!

Meanwhile, back at the schoolhouse:

We were learning top down chasing-an ancient technique using various metal punches and a hammer to create a dimensional design on the surface of metal. The metal (copper) was stuck into a bowl of warm tree pitch. when the pitch cools it holds the metal firmly as it is hammered.

Two examples of top down chasing by Brian

brians chased design 2

brians chased design

Beginning the first project:

 

IMG_20140804_144602720_HDR The first project was to chase a concentric circle design in copper. First an outline is chased…

IMG_20140806_162247913 Brian positioning a metal punch onto the copper.brain demoanother view

 

heating pitch

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Brian demonstrating heating the pitch (carefully) with a torch until soft, then embedding copper into it. He is using a cold metal tool to apply pressure so no air pockets form beneath the copper( the pitch doesn’t want to stick to cold metal.) The heated pitch has a wonderful pine smell!

We worked steadily, the sound of metal tapping forming a hypnotic rhythm, silenced  only for occasional breaks for biscuits and tea or coffee. The breaks gave our fingers a chance to rest-this is pretty intense stuff. (Pushing through the hours was a good thing-my left thumb went from soreness to numbness after a day or two…) Everyday around 1:00 the class stopped for a lunch at Brian’s house. His beautiful wife Yvonne prepared  delicious meals and joined us at the table for some great conversations.

Back to the studio:

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Brian’s wall of hammers

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tree stump work stations (not for our class)

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My third project, a Celtic knot, in progress measures about 4×4 inches

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To remove the piece, the pitch is heated up again and metal is lifted out. Sometimes a cool design imprint  is left in the pitch, like this one…

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The metal is carefully flattened on a sandbag to even out the edges. It can be remounted into pitch for further refinement or reshaped, patined, or polished as a finished piece.

The “commute”to Rathdrum:

I took this snap from the passenger seat of my classmate’s Porsche-funny to be passing a horse and wagon on the highway!

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Other nearby sightings:

IMG_20140806_181956693_HDR Roadside shrine

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The nearby Wicklow Mountains were once home and hideout to Ireland’s rebel fighters:

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I was taken to the mountains after class one night by Liz and Trevor, friends of friends back home. They pointed out some of the sights along the way as the sun was setting. We had a delicious dinner at the historic Glenmalure Lodge. One of the best sights there was a ninety year old retired sheep farmer named Jim, playing cards with a table of ladies. They used matchsticks to keep score. Apparently he comes there every night!

old jim

 

 

Back to the Schoolhouse:IMG_20140808_143516425

Brian gave a toolmaking demo, using old tool steel an (allyn wrench) to make a liner punch…

 

chasing tool

Two different types of puncheschasing tool 2

Basically punches are used to create lines or texture. Brian said he could get by with seven different punches, however his studio has thousands of them!

Some of our finished projects after five days of class:

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IMG_20140808_170619409 Fellow classmates (minus one) and teacher…

dragon cloud

As I rode the train back to Dublin Friday night, I knew the trip had been worth it in so many ways-too many to put into words right now…Since returning home I have been putting the lessons learned into practice.

Here is a recent piece, chased in silver:

silver spiral earrings

A few pictures from Dublin before we part:

IMG_20140802_135221527 National Museum

 

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The Brazen Head-Ireland’s oldest pub-it came highly recommended  and did not disappoint!

 

IMG_20140803_114031631_HDRPeople watching…

IMG_20140801_165432244Temple Bar district on a bank holiday weekend- it is rather quiet during the daytime hours.

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Until next time-Cheers!

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Sea Glass

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I dreamed last night that I was on an English beach with my mother and sister. The tide was coming in, but I took a quick look on the beach and instantly found two fist- size pieces of sea glass. Both were globular shaped with blue stripes and frosty pitted surfaces. On the ground at my feet were sea marbles sitting on top of the pebbles. I picked those up and some smaller deep blue pieces of glass. Went back to get my mom and sister to join me…

I had planned to start writing about my recent trip to Ireland and England in chronological order-starting with Ireland, where I took a metal smithing workshop with Brian Clarke, and then a second post about hunting sea glass on the NE coast of England. After last night’s dream, I am changing that.  I rarely dream about my mother. She has been dead for twenty years now. But everything was so vivid in that dream-sharing my excitement with her at finding the sea glass made everything fresh again-so here goes….

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First off, I have to say that the sea glass was not easy to find. Also-as I tell my tale, the names and locations of the beaches visited will not be revealed!

I have been buying Victorian era sea glass and using it in the jewelry I make for years now. The glass is found on the NE coast of England and Scotland. It was once factory waste from the many glass manufacturing plants along the coast. Over the years of buying glass from a few collectors who live along the beaches there, I became especially friendly with a woman named Jane-(aka Jazomir sea glass.) We seemed to share certain things in common, and struck up an online friendship through Facebook. Jane generously offered to host me should I make a trip out to her part of the world. (In preparation for this, I developed a taste for Newcastle Brown Ale…)

newkie brown aka Newkie Brown

Last month, I flew from Dublin to Newcastle, and Jane met me at the airport. Thus began my up close and personal introduction to the world and culture of English sea glass. I saw some of the collectors I knew from online  sites like Esty, Ebay and Pinterest, strolling the beaches in search of glass. It was a true Who’s Who of sea glass folk..it was almost dream like to see names connect to actual people, many not at all as I had envisioned.

hunters note the sea glass stance-it makes for a sore neck after hours of this on chilly beaches!

 

At a party that night at Jane’s house, I met the Queen of Sea Glass herself, Laurel , She brought a gift to me of a huge champagne colored orb of sea glass, larger than the palm of my hand. Laurel has been collecting sea glass on the local beaches for twenty years, and has coined a lot of the terms used to describe its many shapes and forms. There are also highly specific names for colors, as I was to learn…

But more than the physical properties of sea glass, there is a philosophy to collecting-at least according to Laurel. She abhors those who use sticks to poke through the deep layers of pebbles to uncover glass as it causes damage. She holds those who actively seek it by sitting down on a pile of rocks and covering every inch with distaste. Laurel’s method is to stroll down the beach at a reasonable clip, letting the glass catch her eye. It finds HER.

Laurel’s tiny dog, Pepper, is also good at finding glass-as are Jane’s two border terriers, Poppy and Levi…They both laughed about the times when cleaning up after their dogs they find an especially fine piece of glass that they hadn’t noticed earlier.

levi    Levi (with rock in mouth) Heidi

Another huge no no is to name the beaches where glass is found. Laurel joked about blindfolding me before going to a very private beach, but it wasn’t ALL joking. The popularity of English sea glass has created a market  and determined collectors who are out rain or shine to harvest sea glass and sell it for ever rising prices. The old timers say it is not as easy to find, and lets face it, there is no more dumping of glass factory waste to create a new supply. The average time glass has been tumbling on the rocky shore there is about one hundred years or so.

As a beginner, I saw white and green glass on occasion, while next to me, Jane would pick up a beautiful multi colored purple and blue piece, or a sea marble. Jane said that you learn to filter out the extraneous things like rocks- and see the glass. I was absolutely thrilled to find a small rose colored piece-a rare color indeed, raising a heartfelt “well done!” from Jane instead of her sweet “that’s nice” response to my previous finds of green and aqua shards.

jane Jane

sea marble a sea marble-as found on rocks

me first marble On my last day I found my first sea marble!

The next day we went to the secret beach, lets call it Hex beach. Earlier that morning we had been to two other more popular beaches. We walked about 45 minutes through beautiful fields overlooking the beaches to get to the trail approach. As the low tide was nearly over, we knew there wouldn’t be a lot of time to spend on this beach. You had to wind around  rocky outcrops which lead to a series of small beaches. At high tide it would not be possible to get around those rocks. If we did get stuck by the tide, there was an escape route that Jane knew about-an almost vertical goat trail leading up the muddy cliff side. I did not fancy taking that route!

Mythical stories of finding treasure in secret coves or caves as hot lava flows or angry gods approach were going through my mind as every beach led to more incredible sea glass. With one eye on the tide and the other on the ground, I enjoyed the thrill of knowing how close we were cutting it. It was raining and I was thoroughly drenched but didn’t even realize it!

As we timed our way back around the rocks to the brief ceding of wave motion, I knew the thrill and sport of extreme sea glass hunting! (okay, others would argue that diving off the N California coast is the true extreme sea glass hunting, but I will NEVER be doing that)

jane mud prints Jane looking smashing in her mud printed leggings, as we climb off the beach.

I brought along some finished pieces of jewelry with the intention of photographing them on the beaches where the sea glass was found-a full circle, if you will..

Here are a few photos:

pink sea candy pink sea candy ring

saltwater ring england Salt Water ring

IMG_20140811_102245724 Infinity ring

IMG_20140811_110140619_HDR Gauntlet cuff

trevors beach Trevor’s Beach

I must say that the genuine friendliness that Jane, her husband Trevor (aka Ocean Wanderer on Etsy) and their family showed to me was something i will always treasure. We made a real connection via our love of the ocean and  sea glass. We discovered we also shared a love of gangster films (thanks for introducing me to British gangster genre, Trev) good food and drink, music and so much more.

After four days of beach combing, it was time to say goodbye…I never did make it to the local museum which would have given me more information about the area’s industrial roots in coal mining, glass making and more. Guess that means I will have to make another trip….

As Jane and I sat in the Newcastle airport, sipping cappuccinos and  spending a few  minutes together before I boarded for London (my suitcase loaded with sea glass and rocks) we vowed to meet up next summer and take a road trip to Scotland. I will drink to that!me Cheers!

Trippen

labrynth garnet earrings detail Chartres Labyrinth earrings, photo by Marcy Merrill

It seems somehow appropriate to start this  post with an image of recently completed earrings. They represent the sum of my explorations into etching and using Japanese patina on shibuichi alloy-and the image of the Labyrinth, which is etched on the metal surface, is highly symbolic of my own creative quest.

Long used in spiritual rituals world wide, labyrinths can be walked or danced, representing an initiation-a transformative, mysterious and universal awakening into a “universe larger than our inspirations, richer and more complex than all our dreams-it is the call of the larger cycle, the dance of the larger life.”-Helen Curry

labyrinth eaaling st marys

The long anticipated journey to Ireland and England begins this week! I am beyond excited at the thought of exploring Dublin, taking a week long workshop in Celtic Chasing with Brian Clarke, and meeting my sea glass friend Jane  in Newcastle, England. The timing for hunting sea glass couldn’t be better, as it coincides with a Super full moon on August 9th (this wasn’t intentionally planned by me-or was it?!)

I will be taking an assortment of sea glass jewelry with the plan to shoot it on the beaches in England where the glass was found. To see some stunning photography of these beaches, check out the link of photographer Ray Etchells.

Here are some shots of recent work  taken by my dear friend Marcy Merrill in her North Cove Washington studio:

sea candy collection 2 Sea Candy rings in rare shades of Victorian era sea glass with reticulated silver, 22kt gold and small diamonds.

sea candy blue 2sa

bee coin ring ancient Greek coin with honey bee, circa 350 B.C.

labrinyth earring turqs

Labyrinth shield earrings-etched shibuichi with 22kt gold rivets and turquoise.

And…here are two shots from Spring and Summer2014 as featured by Kucoon Designs, Los Angeles:

!cid_C9027FF2-5E8C-4DC6-B7A0-1B4686DD048E@socal_rrCrusader Cuffs-etched copper with sea glass and moonstones, photo by Daniel Jung

kucoon burning man

If you would like to see photos of my adventures, check out my facebook page for updates when on the road-unless that is, I decide to unplug until my return!

In the Good Old Summertime

gothtini

Summer began with a family visit that is still partially going on…this post will be brief in words ( I think) but hopefully show through photos that which has been keeping me so busy that I haven’t had time to share much via my blog recently. In the last post I was preparing for my Los Angleles based family to arrive for an extended stay. My brother Joey, his girlfriend Amy Jo and her 13 year old son, Jaydon made the trek to the great Northwest by car with our 85 year old father as their precious cargo. Joey likened the 1200 mile  trip as a cross between the films The Long Long Trailer and The Grapes of Wrath…

wrath

Arriving safely, we began a very pleasant round of  barbequed meals, beach walks, playing guitars, campfires,  movie watching,  and two visits to Astoria and Cannon Beach, Oregon. And yes, summer rain just for the Angelenos!

astoria rain ecola beach 2 Ecola Beach, Oregon

On our small island in Tokeland, Joey found an old bottle with cork intact. In raised lettering on the front side of the bottle is the inscription:  “Dr. Price’s Delicious Flavoring Extracts”.

dr price bottle

After some internet-searching, we discovered that Dr. Price was the inventor of baking powder. He patented a line of flavoring extracts at the turn of the century (1910-1915). There were flavors like cherry, vanilla, orange etc. We also learned that Dr. Price was the grandfather of the actor Vincent Price. As with most beach finds, there is no clear answer as to how that bottle ended up in such pristine condition on our beach-where had it been all these years? Is the caramel colored liquid inside it the remains of an original delicious flavoring? We decided to leave it corked-for now….

vincent p(Vincent Price)

 

During this time I continued to work a few hours every day in the studio, preparing for two trunk shows in the same week. My good friend Jeffro modified some beach-salvaged wood stumps to create workstations for metal smithing. I can work comfortably at standing, sitting or kneeling positions. As I am preparing for my Celtic Chasing class in Ireland in August, this is perfect for having a good place to practice before the workshop begins.

work stations 2 workstaions3

Before the trunk shows I wanted to get some photos of just finished pieces. Amy Jo was an inspiring model/ collaborator for the shoot…

Summer Solstice Photos

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131solsctice earrings

blue set

sky cuff

moonstone necklace amy

I am going to close this with one family photo and the promise to keep in touch as the summer progresses. I hope that  you have some time to reconnect with those that bring you joy, some time for solitude, and plenty of adventures!

summer bbq

Seeds of Summer

 

1956 The Bad Seed McCormack The Bad Seed 1956-there is a tie in to this teaser photo-just keep reading…

 

The past month has been one of seasonal (and personal ) transition. As the days are getting longer and warmer we prepare  for the setting in motion of ideas, goals and long held dreams…

To start with the most literal: This week the kids and I  planted our vegetable  garden. This always take longer than expected-weeding and digging, waiting out the rainy weeks and digging some more.

garden 2014Sophia (my very own Bad Seed) and Bud, planting a row of sweet peas in a small corner of the garden plot

This year we have expanded the size of the garden area because my dad is coming up from Southern California to spend the summer with us. He is 85 years old, in good health and has loved gardening his whole life. The big plan is for him to relocate permanently nearby-and the garden is one of ways we are hoping to entice him to stay beyond September. My theory: If an older person has more family interaction and social stimulation their aging process may be reversed to some degree. He still has a lot to contribute and has said he will probably live for another 15 years. So let’s keep him busy and off the streets!

Other exciting news: I have bought my plane tickets and am traveling to Ireland and England for two weeks in August. In Ireland I will be taking a workshop with renowned silversmith Brian Clarke. The class is called Celtic Chasing. Chasing is an ancient technique used to achieve a dimensional or sculptural relief on the surface of metal. I can only imagine how this will expand the direction of my jewelry…

banner9example of Celtic chasing by Brian Clarke

Following the workshop I will travel to the NE coast of England to visit with my sea glass friend Jane and her family. This is going to be a dream come true-to hang with some cool English folk and actually get to set foot on some of the beaches where the sea glass is found! (Not to mention being taken to the Workingman’s club) I plan to drink some Newcastle Brown Ale in Newcastle  and hopefully find a few treasures on the beach to take home with me. And of course, gather memories that will last forever!

ne coast of england Jane’s beach (which shall be nameless)

The photo below shows some larger size sea glass specimens from the NE coast of England. These are pieces I have bought and kept just to look at…there is also a fossilized clam from our area in the group.

sea glass and clam

And here are some recent jewelry pieces made with English sea glass:

 

sea glass stopper ring

Bottle stopper fragment set in ancient style ring band-photo by Marcy Merrill

green sea glass ring marcyprong set seaglass marcyProng set sea glass with etched copper and silver-photo by Marcy Merrill

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

jaws marquis

There is a much loved and recently renovated theater (vintage 1929) in the city of Hoquiam. (about 35 miles from where we live.)  It plays classic films and hosts live performances on occasion. I never miss a chance to take my kids and their friends to see films like The Bad Seed, (as pictured at header) Them, The Wizard of Oz, The Planet of the Apes, Psycho, La Cage Aux Folles (with live drag show!) and The Sound of Music. Last weekend we saw JAWS on the big screen. I remember standing in line to see this movie when it was first released in the summer of 1975. How fun to revisit it again on the big screen with my own kids-a rite of passage as summer (and swimming) approach!

jaws selfieL-R Leah (good friend) my son Raleigh and me…

Only a few weeks left of school for the kids-as for me-I am working daily in the studio and enjoying this last bit of solitude.

 

faceted marble ring marcy Something new: ancient style ring design with faceted cat’s eye marble-Marcy Merrill photo

In Closing….

spring sunset

As  family visits and international travel loom, I promise to keep you updated on all of the above-it should be an interesting summer. I hope you have some great adventures planned as well (and that they do not include winning a penmanship medal!)