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The Queen of Sea Glass

Since returning from the desert Ihave immersed myself in all things sea glass in preparation for the Seventh Annual Cayucos Sea Glass Festival,March 11-12 2017.

It will be great to once again venture out of the Pacific NW rainy season, (although this is perfect weather for staying in the studio and losing all sense of time at the workbench!)

Sharing here some recent work that will debut at the festival soon.

 Harujuku earrings, with sea glass ohajiki pieces found in Japan and inspired by my travels there last summer.            

Harujuku earrings, with sea glass ohajiki pieces found in Japan and inspired by my travels there last summer.        

The beaches of Japan have the most interesting array of old pottery pieces, sea glass and ohajiki (flattened glass disks used in a children’s game similar to tiddlywinks) I wrote about my Japanese sea glass hunting adventure in an earlier post here:  In search of: Japanese Sea glass

Barbie Ball Stovall with a bonanza ohajiki finding day during a super low tide on her local beach in Japan.

Sea Pottery and sea glass earrings with silver tassles, from Tokyo to Tokeland!

 

Heart of Glass pendant necklace, Japanese sea glass heart, naturally formed by the sea and shore, with inset diamond and silver chain and tassle.

 

The Queen of Sea Glass

I have been obsessed with crowns and tiaras this winter, part of it has to do with research I am doing for a novel. This inspired the making of two sea glass crowns. They are modeled after British Arts and Crafts style designs from about 1908. They are made of silver with sea glass jewerls from England, Japan and California and moonstones from our local beach here in Westport Washington.

 

Sea glass crown as modeled by Timber Uitto

 How to grow a Queen...Tokeland Style! photo by Eric Fitzpatrick   

How to grow a Queen…Tokeland Style! photo by Eric Fitzpatrick  

 photo by Eric Fitzpatrick  A queen braving the 46 degree temps to model with panache!   

photo by Eric Fitzpatrick A queen braving the 46 degree temps to model with panache!  

photo by Eric Fitzpatrick

 

     

   

It was a magic moment, one that surpassed the original goal of getting good photographs of the crowns. These girls rule!

     

   

I hope to see those of you who can make it Cayucos for the festival. Its a great little beach town, just North of Moro Bay. And remember, Spring is coming!

 

 

 

 

Tucson or Bust!

Last week I happily left the rain and darkness of the PNW for the dry sunshine of Arizona. It was a sacrifice, but “somebody has to do it” as the saying goes…Destination: Tucson Gemshow!

 Raw Aquamarine, ready to be cut into gemstones-this piece was priced at $4,000.

Raw Aquamarine, ready to be cut into gemstones-this piece was priced at $4,000.

During the later part of January to the middle of Feb, the city of Tucson plays host to gem, mineral and fossil displays that are unparrelled. Huge tents spring up in motel parking lots, or entire floors of hotels are turned into storefronts, rented by vendors traveling from countries all over the world to vend their wares. I talked with ( and bought from) Brazilians, French, Ethiopian,Chinese, Peruvian,and Finnish gem dealers as well as locals from Colorado who mine and cut their own turquoise. I saw buyers from Vienna to Los Angeles (and points in between) buying everything from rocks, to beads and pearls, to finished jewelry.

 Acres of gemstone beads in a rainbow of colors.

Acres of gemstone beads in a rainbow of colors.

 Crystal balls abound-many from Brazil.

Crystal balls abound-many from Brazil.

 Towering crystal sentries

Towering crystal sentries

 Dinosaur and fossil displays are king at the 22nd Street show   

Dinosaur and fossil displays are king at the 22nd Street show  

 A fistful of fire agate

A fistful of fire agate

I’m back home now, the torrential rains of an “atmospheric river” are bringing inches of rain as I write. But I have a sack full of brilliant opals, rare turquoise and Peruvian opal to keep me focused, and memories of clear blue skies and dry desert air to get me through the rest of this winter. If you get a chance to go-DO IT.

 Taking a break in the barrio of old Tucson   

Taking a break in the barrio of old Tucson  

In Search Of: Japanese Sea Glass

     

   

As a child I grew up on the beaches of Southern California, where my siblings and I spent long summers collecting shells, sea glass, and other treasure.  I was always fascinated by stories like Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson. The idea of improvising for your needs with what the sea provided seemed a fabulous challenge. 

There were lots of beachcombers but I don’t know how much general appreciation there was for sea glass in those days excepting an old lady who displayed jars of sea glass in the windows of her beach shack. She lived alone and after she died, her house was torn down. Who knows what became of her glass collection.

Fast forward a few decades-sea glass is now being recognized as a disappearing resource worldwide. There are signs proclaiming it an “archeological resource” at a famous Northern California beach (another post on that soon). What was once trash has been elevated to treasure, and the prices for certain kinds of glass has skyrocketed according to its beauty and scarcity.

The first sea glass jewelry I made was with glass I found on my beach here in Tokeland. I was introduced to Japanese sea glass by a neighbor who traveled to Hokkaido Island to hunt for sea glass for her jewelry business. Liking my designs, she commissioned me to make a ring for her in exchange for a box of Japanese glass. It took me a long time to use any of the glass because I couldn’t imagine parting with it! Eventually I used most of it and hoped that maybe someday I would go to Japan and find some of my own.

 

 Ohajike, collection of Barbie Ball Stovall

Ohajike, collection of Barbie Ball Stovall

The next best thing to going to Japan was finding an online source to buy sea glass. I discovered Barbie Ball Stovell through a sea glass website/auction and bid unsuccessfully on her Ohajike pieces. Resembling flattened marbles, originally used for a children game similar to tiddlywinks, they are even more beautiful after tumbling in the sea for decades. Always outbid, I never did win any of them at auction, but did get some tiny heart shaped glass pieces from Barbie. Even better, we struck up an online friendship, never dreaming that one day I would actually visit her, get a private tour of her beaches AND find my very own ohajike!

 Barbie found this miniature glass tea cup on the first of many beach walks we took together.

Barbie found this miniature glass tea cup on the first of many beach walks we took together.

As in England (and everywhere) the best beaches to find sea glass are kept secret. Short of blindfolding me, Barbie let me know that this applied to her beaches as well. I know I was lucky because her husband, Robert kept remarking in surprise-“Barbie never takes ANYONE to —–Beach!”

With full respect to Barbie, I will not be divulging longitude or latitude, let alone beach names or signage. But I can say we were on the coast about an hour from Tokyo. Even if I had come as a tourist, there is no way I would have found these places on my own. Some of them were non nondescript stretches of sand along the highway, others were lush secluded coves. Each is known for being a good place to find specific types of items-pottery shards, sea marbles, ohajike, and other treasure.

 Old pottery and ohajike in cobalt blue, photo by Barbie Ball Stovall

Old pottery and ohajike in cobalt blue, photo by Barbie Ball Stovall

To backtrack a bit….In late June Barbie contacted me about making a ring for her. I mentioned that I was going to Fujirock with my brother Joey and his band in July. Hearing that we would be in Tokyo after the gig, she invited me, Joey and his girlfriend, Amy, to visit her family at the beach. Learning that Fujirock was on their musical bucket list, Joey arranged for free passes for Barbie’s family. (They brought their tents and camped on the ski slopes with thousands of other fans, having a GREAT experience. ) None of us had met in person yet, but we were discovering we had some major interests in common-music, sea glass, and junk stores!

 Robert and Barbie at the entrance to FujiRock 2016

Robert and Barbie at the entrance to FujiRock 2016

After the three day festival was over, we took a train from Tokyo to the coast and were met by Barbie and her husband, Robert. After a stop at the 99 yen store just for fun, we headed straight to the ohajike beach while the tide was still low.

 Local fisherman checking out the gaijin taking their photo.

Local fisherman checking out the gaijin taking their photo.

 Sea marble hiding in the rocks.

Sea marble hiding in the rocks.

 I am looking for another marble!   

I am looking for another marble!  

After visiting a couple beaches, we settled into a comfortable guest house and got ready for the evening’s entertainment. We happened to arrive on the date of the town’s annual fireworks celebration. Walking from their house to the nearby beach, we were joined by friends and neighbors of the Stovalls to eat, drink and watch the firework show.

Barbie and Robert’s home is a treasure trove of sea glass finds, artfully displayed in table tops and pretty much everywhere else!

 

It was a warm and beautiful evening, we walked around the area surrounding the beach as the sun got ready to set. Street vendors sold all kinds of delicious food and treats, the atmosphere was festive and fun!

 Many residents dressed in traditional wear for the festival.   

Many residents dressed in traditional wear for the festival.  

 Enjoying Japanese cocktails on the beach at Hanabi Festival (L-R) Me, Barbie, Amy and Joey.

Enjoying Japanese cocktails on the beach at Hanabi Festival (L-R) Me, Barbie, Amy and Joey.

Day Two: a whirlwind of beaches-and junk shops!

 

 Amy finds treasure!

Amy finds treasure!

 One of the most beautiful beaches we explored...

One of the most beautiful beaches we explored…

 Beach etiquette, Japanese style

Beach etiquette, Japanese style

 Beautiful lemon drop marble, photo by Barbie Ball Stoval   

Beautiful lemon drop marble, photo by Barbie Ball Stoval  

 II FOUND AN OHAJIKE!   

II FOUND AN OHAJIKE!  

 The cuff that started it all-made with sea glass (except for the red) purchased from Barbie. Photographed on the beaches where glass was found.   

The cuff that started it all-made with sea glass (except for the red) purchased from Barbie. Photographed on the beaches where glass was found.  

Its been an amazing trip, now that I am back to my studio, I look forward to many happy hours this winter making new pieces with my Japanese treasure!

 

 Local shrine we visited after sea glass hunting      

Local shrine we visited after sea glass hunting    

Domo arigato Barbie and Robert for the amazing hospitality and fun-I am sure we will be back to continue this adventure and friendship!

PS: I just published this post and the mail truck delivered a box from Barbie! She shipped my junk store ‘finds’-silk kimonos, knick-knacks and extra sea glass that would not fit into my over stuffed suitcases…Perfect Timing. 🙂

Until next time…Mata ne!

From Tokeland to Tokyo

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Its hard to describe the impact the travels in Japan have had on me. It was an amazing journey. On so many levels it was inspirational-and the friendships I made are at the top of these experiences!

In a series of blog posts, I plan to share the highlights with you. From traveling with a band to Japan’s largest rock festival, to picking up sea glass with a wonderful local guide (and friend!), the trip included many milestone moments.

So let this brief post serve as a prelude to much more-as soon as I get back down to earth!

 Tokyo manhole cover and made in Tokeland belt-a match made in heaven!   

Tokyo manhole cover and made in Tokeland belt-a match made in heaven!  

 Sea Glass finds from a Japanese fishing cove.

Sea Glass finds from a Japanese fishing cove.

 Jared Meeker rocking one of my ancient coin rings at Fuji.

Jared Meeker rocking one of my ancient coin rings at Fuji.

Auld Lange Syne Again

sunset 1 13 2014

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot

and never thought upon

summer solstice 2015

The flames of Love extinguished

and fully past and gone:

 

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Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,

That loving Breast of thine;

santa cruz

That thou canst never once reflect

on Old Long Syne?

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Robert Burns immortal poem reminds us to appreciate the virtues of reconnecting with old friends and memories. On this last day of 2015, I want to let everyone out there know how much I appreciate your interest and support in my jewelry endeavors. I look forward to the journeys  that 2016 has in store!

 

The Spirit of Materials-Earth, Water, Air and Fire

metal etched and chased.2jpg

MATERIAL ~The Matter from which a things is or can be made.

The dictionary definition of material lists it as a noun or adjective, a name or a description. Used as an adjective, it describes something that is “important, essential and relevant.” 

Recently I have been a participant at several art events where the material shines through and guides the process of art making. This post will be about those materials -clay, paper, metal and wood, and show the process by which they are transformed into something new.

 

Sophia and I attended a cultural exchange workshop in Astoria, Oregon that featured six indigenous Maori clay artists from Aotearoa, New Zealand. The accompanying art exhibit, art lectures, and hands-on clay workshops were called Uku-Aotearoa-The Spirit of Materials.

baye riddell

Artwork by Maori clay artist Baye Riddel

I have not really worked with clay before, except for an ash tray I made in second grade. It was made with coiled rings of clay. It had a green glaze and marbles melted in the center. ( I gave it to my grandfather, who smoked.)

It was a good opportunity for beginners mind, also known Shoshin. This is a concept in Zen Buddhism that refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject. Also inspiring was the opportunity to see experienced  artists build clay sculptures using age old techniques. There was a grace in watching coils of clay transform into an abstract angel, the artist’s hands building and smoothing every bit of it inside and out. The workroom filled with the energy and camaraderie of students and professionals, each making something with their hands. Maybe it was process that informed the final shape, for some it was an idea wielded and realized through process. The heart beat of it all was the building of a paper kiln. Like paper wasps building a home, the group slathered paper and mud to make a giant hive that breathed fire!

paper kiln7Step one: shelves are assembled to hold ceramics

This is an ancient, changeable and customizable method of kiln construction. The paper kiln uses simple materials-tree branches, paper and mud to construct an oven around stacked shelves of ceramics. These low-tech, versatile kilns are used in India today.

paper kiln6Wood is stacked tipi-style around the shelves.

paper kiln2

Sheets of newspaper are dipped in mud, then wrapped around the frame

paper kilnA fire is lit outside the kiln

The heat is from the fire is drawn into the structure. Coals are shoveled inside and a close watch is kept, repairing the walls as needed and keeping the fire stoked. (It was lit around 4:00 in the afternoon). Flames shot out of the top before it collapsed into itself around 1:00 A.M.

paper kiln opened up

Aftermath-a pile of burned paper, mud and wood coals surround the fired ceramics

paperkiln fired potOne of the fired pieces-organic material including mosses and shells were attached to the piece with copper netting to produce the random color and markings.

After returning home, steeped and stimulated by what I experienced, I started texturing sheet copper for a wood and metal sculpture collaboration with Jeffo . It feels great to work big-much bigger than jewelry mode. I will share more on our project in a future post.metal etched and chased

metal etched and chased.2jpg

Last week, Jeffro and I showed at the studio/ showroom of HIIH Lights in Astoria, Oregon.  Lam Quang and Kestral Gates are a husband and wife team who make handmade paper light  sculpture at their wonderful farm.

hiih barn

hiiih jeff photo

papermaking hiih 3Lam demonstrates paper making…

papermaking hiih

Wet mulch drying on the screen

 hiih papermaking

a few hours later, it starts to look like paper.

hiih show me

I need some of their lights for my display!

jeff horse hiih

Jeffro with Arabian Horse Bust, constructed from driftwood with his partner Zela Dove

jeff and zela

 

And more raw materials: piles of small wood that will eventually become part of Jeffro’s art:

woodpile

woodpile3

 

“From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.”

-Hokusai Katsuhika

 

This quote was hanging on the wall of the ceramics classroom at Clatsop Community College in Astoria. It certainly expands the art and age horizons!

Going to close post with a photo of a recently made pendant, featuring an ancient Greek coin.

artemis on the beach

Artemeis Solteira. on the beach- ancient bronze coin from Syracuse, Sicily 317 B.C

bud namaste Bud, my studio mate

Until next time-may you be inspired!

Low Tide/Lunch Break

Low Tide/Lunch Break

11:30 this morning there was a minus tide. Perfect time for a studio break. This is the view of the beach on the “mainland” side, before crossing the small channel and walking to the island.

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Our dogs are always ready for a beach run.

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The weather is what you would expect for living on the Washington coast in the Spring-clouds, sun, showers, wind, and beautiful light. We cross the channel.

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While the dogs chase ravens and eagles, I look for the elusive perfectly round black stones -so far I have only found three. They make beautiful prong set pendants. I will keep looking and let you know when I find one again!

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