Category Archives: Inspiration

The Best Things in Life are (nearly) Free

“Will brake for sea glass” photo by Eric Fitzpatrick

Recently I was headed down the coast with my sister to a sea glass festival on the central California coast. Along the way, we stayed a couple nights in Ft. Bragg, to visit world-renowned Glass Beach. This post will include highlights of that journey down Highway 101 through the beaches and redwoods of Oregon and Northern California.

We began in Astoria, Oregon with a thermos of coffee and about a year’s worth of conversation stored up between the two of us.  Our last road trip, the previous March, had been to place our dad’s ashes inside a niche at Forest Lawn.  We had a lot of catching up to do.

 

Netarts, Oregon

Whatever Happened To? 

We hadn’t driven very far from Astoria when we took a side trip to find Lex’s Cool Stuff  in Netarts. We had not seen Lexi since we were living in Sunset Beach, California, way back in the seventies. Back then she made candle holders and other crafts from shards of broken automotive glass and surely must have been at the forefront of upcycled art. Our brother told us that Lexi had moved to Oregon and opened a shop. We found her tiny place on a road that overlooked the sea. Unfortunately, it was closed that day.

 

 

Lex’s Cool Stuff, Netarts, Oregon

Having many miles to travel, we moved on down the highway, vowing to return at a later date. Our drive took us through the towns of Newport, Lincoln City, and Gold Beach with scenic points of interest in between such as Devils Punchbowl, Devil’s Lake and Boiler Bay. Just before spring break, the towns were quiet, the highway uncrowded, perfect timing.

Pt Orford, Oregon

We stopped for the night close to the Oregon/California border, in Pt. Orford. This is a magical little place, with an amazing restaurant and art gallery nestled on the bluff above the small commercial harbor. We took a sunset stroll before checking into our room and then heading to Redfish for dinner. We knew this would be a special dining experience and were so glad to make it there before the final seating of the night!

Daybreak, Pt.Orford harbor

We slept with the sound of crashing surf coming through the open window and woke to a colorful sky at daybreak. We started the day with a walk on the beach as the sun cleared the hills.

 

Beachcombing

Beach at Pt. Orford

Another Roadside Attraction

We had barely said goodbye to Pt Orford and crossed the California border on Highway 101 when we had to stop again-for dinosaurs.

To my sister’s great disappointment, this roadside attraction was closed. We will have to visit the lifesize T Rex and brontosaurus another time, I guess.

We continued south on Highway 101 which offered sublime views as it hugged the cliffside high above the sea before plunging into misty stands of ancient redwood groves. Sprinkled between tiny towns, art galleries and quirky roadside attractions offered everything from redwood burls and bigfoot carvings to monumental metal sculptures and more.

The art of Val Polyanin, it was closed the day we drove by but had a telephone number on a mailbox at the side of the road. Maybe next time?

The Redwood Highway

Trees of Mystery, Klamath, CA. Monumental Paul Bunyon and Babe statues oversee the entrance to gift shop and End of the Trail Native American museum.

We stopped here to stretch our legs and for my sister to buy a redwood seed at the gift shop. The museum is really worth touring, especially if you admire Native American basketry. We drove along the Redwood  Highway, the twisting road flanked by massive trees, dark and moody. It is indeed a “Place of Wonder”.

Ancient Redwood Grove

We stopped to picnic in the LadyBird Johnson Grove.

In  Humbolt county, as we drive through the towns of Fortuna, Scotia, and Garberville, there were ample opportunities to stock up on redwood in many forms for those seeking a souvenir.

Humboldt County

Or maybe something larger?

Bigfoot Country

At the end of a long day’s drive, we emerged onto Highway 1 and reached Fort Bragg at sunset.

Without Further Ado; Glass Beach

Glass Beach, CA

We timed our trip to coincide with the tide, knowing we would have two low tide mornings to explore the beaches. We woke early the next day and drove to the Glass Beach approach. We left our car there and proceeded down to the trail along the bluff. For those who don’t know, what makes Ft. Bragg a major destination for sea glassers is the fact that it had four city dumps located right there on the beach from about 1895 to about 1969.

Our mission was to shoot some of my sea glass jewelry on location at the beach. I did see a few people on the beach picking up glass, but it is highly discouraged by the city of Ft. Bragg, which seek to protect this amazing treasure for all to enjoy. I recommend a visit to the International Sea Glass Museum, operated by Captain Cass. It will give a better understanding of what makes Ft Bragg’s beaches so unique and has well-organized sea glass collections from all over the world on display. As an extra bonus, Captian Cass will mark the best beaches to hunt for glass on the maps for sale in the gift shop.

Sea glass rings by Judith Altruda, at Glass Beach.

Climbing down to the beach, feeling the crunch of sea glass underfoot and seeing the ground shimmer as the sun comes out, is an out-of-this-world experience.

Abalone

Ravens at Glass Beach

Sea glass and Fiesta ware pottery shard

Sea Glass cove

Sunlight intensifies the carpet of glass!

Farewell, Glass Beach

After two days it was time to move on to Cayucos for the SeaGlass Festival, which will be the topic of a future post. And speaking of the future… those attractions that were closed when we passed by? Perhaps just as well, as it gives us another reason to return.

 

Sister Shadows

What I did for Sea Glass-Part One

 A Seaham stroll A Seaham stroll

On the last day of 2017, I am finally sorting through the hundreds of photos shot on a sea glass trip to the UK this summer, with the goal of sharing some highlights with you before another year goes by. My friend Jane, who I visited in Sunderland in 2014 (read more in archived blog posts) generously penciled in three weeks for my return visit, which included sightseeing in London, sea glass hunting on England’s Northeast coast and a glamping road trip through Scotland, stopping at every beach or charity shop that crossed our path (not to mention pubs). I traveled by plane, train, car, bus, ferry, and foot-walking an average of 17,800 steps a day, or about fifty-two miles in one week, (thank you fit bit.) Dining experiences ran the gamut from swanky gentleman’s tea in Wynyard Hall to microwavable haggis at a Scottish hostel on a very rainy night, too exhausted to go out, lovely Indian takeaways and delicious home-cooked comfort food prepared by Jane’s husband, Trevor.

Drinking experiences were decidedly egalitarian- in London, Jane and I drank canned Gin and Tonic purchased at a nearby Waitrose store under the Tower Bridge, and also enjoyed the decidedly nicer and more expensive G and T’s in the Kings Cross railway station bar, (almost missing our train to Sunderland.)

 Cheers! Cheers!

When we weren’t on the beach hunting for sea glass,  we were using the scenery as a backdrop to photo shoot jewelry I brought along for this purpose. It was especially fitting because the sea glass used in making the collection was found on the English coast, some of it by Jane and Trevor. Jane was a very good sport about it, especially when her crazy American friend used the very food we ate as photo props!

There are so many great memories in all of it, that I must simply stop for a moment and thank Jane and Trevor again for their wonderful hospitality and friendship.

 Gentleman's tea at Wynyard Hall, with scotch egg, piccalilli, sandwiches, scones, and more-a great setting for a sea glass ring. Not pictured: the glass of whiskey that was included with meal. Gentleman’s tea at Wynyard Hall, with scotch egg, piccalilli, sandwiches, scones, and more-a great setting for a sea glass ring. Not pictured: the glass of whiskey that was included with meal.  Faceted sea glass marble and Big Ben   Faceted sea glass marble and Big Ben

From London we go to the source of some of the world’s best sea glass, the beaches of Northeast England.

 In keeping with protocol I will not be naming beaches, but this is in the general area of Sunderland.   In keeping with protocol I will not be naming beaches, but this is in the general area of Sunderland.

Jane and I had the entire beach to ourselves on a very warm August day. As the afternoon wore on a few other glassers rounded the cove and came into view. I was already friends with one of them through a facebook sea glassing group and it was a pleasure to meet in person. Jane and I flying the flag of Tokeland that day, and our mutual friend took this photo of us.

 Sea Glass Sister. Jane and I examine the sea glass she she picked up that was lying at our feet! Sea Glass Sister. Jane and I examine the sea glass she she picked up that was lying at our feet!  A very rare purple sea glass nestled in kelp near the beach where Jane originally found it. A very rare purple sea glass nestled in kelp near the beach where Jane originally found it.

A view from the top-the beach is accessible by a steep path winding down through the tall grasses.

The reason there is so much sea glass found in along the Northeast coast is because it was perfectly situated to produce glass, having the natural resources of sand and lime and easy transport by rail or ship. Factories disposed of waste glass by dumping into the rivers or sea, which was transformed by the action of tide and time into sea glass.We visited museums and the Glass Centre to learn more about the history of glass making.

 There are many fine example of the glass produced in the Sunderland area in the museum and the Glass Centre, both are definitly  worth visiting. There are many fine example of the glass produced in the Sunderland area in the museum and the Glass Centre, both are definitly  worth visiting.

Coalmining was a major enterprise here, with mines tunneling out under the sea. I am standing in a now defunct elevator, that would transport miner down to the tunnel where they would work off shore. The film Billy Elliot was shot in the nearby village of Easington, and the death scene in Get Carter, the original film with Michael Caine, shot further north of here. I walked along a path with markers outlining the history of the mines, accidents and strikes that ended in the early 1990s when the last mine closed. The environmental damage wrought on the beaches is being reversed, slowly but surely.

Jane and I planned a road trip to visit sea glass beaches in Scotland which included glamping in a “posh pod” along the way as we drove from east to west along the Firth of Forth. In Oban we would take a ferry to the isle of Mull, where further adventure awaited…

 Arriving at Lower Largo as the sun sets. Arriving at Lower Largo as the sun sets.  St Monans St Monans

My new “happy place.”

 St Monan's church St Monan’s church

 Empire Biscuits After several hours walking along the beaches we were ready for a coffee and treat. I love the Scottish bakeries! Empire Biscuits After several hours walking along the beaches we were ready for a coffee and treat. I love the Scottish bakeries!  This was one of the best pieces of glass I found in Scotland. This was one of the best pieces of glass I found in Scotland.

Inside our posh pod, glam-camping with all the comforts of home and a pub within walking distance nearby!

End of Part One-Stayed tuned for Part Two, Isle of Mull and Beyond

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?

dec4

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!

 

Into the Wild

aldar eye

Right now, the signs of Fall are everywhere in the  Pacific Northwest. Lately I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the woods, witnessing the changes of the season. And extra lucky to have as a forest companion an 84 year old man who has spent his life working in the woods. His name is Marv Jones. His son, Bruce, who has been taking us on weekly excursions into the wild, compares his father to the original Jeremiah Johnson.

Marv reads the forest both as a living journal of current events and history book. For example, the faintest scratch along a logging road tells him a good sized buck deer was here, the direction it was headed and how long ago. Once a professional bear hunter for the State, he points to Cascara trees with bent branches, a sure sign that bear were here eating berries within the last day or two. He explains to me why one tree is left standing in a clear cut, (as a seed tree) and  recalls planting trees in the 1960s for a timber company, using tree planting machines (that were later discarded because humans do it better.) He shows me  where the timber camp was located. It’s hard to imagine that buildings once stood here, the only marker now is a tree stump with a rusty bucket perched on top.

He gives me a bear tooth for a good luck piece, which I now carry in my pocket.

Marv, photo by Bruce Jones

Marv, photo by Bruce Jones

An avid photographer, he has a keen eye for the beauty of dew coated  spider webs shinning in the sunlight or mushrooms freshly popped up from the forest floor. Speaking of fungi, the first rains of the season have spurred overnight mushroom growth.  I think about the campy Japanese horror film MatangoAttack of the Mushroom People, as I encounter mushrooms of incredible size and colors.

matango

We pick chanterelles, a highly prized seasonal mushroom by the bucket fulls…

chantrelle mushroom

chanterelle mushroom

What follows are some photographic highlights from these “sashays”, as Marv would say…

Bear claw marks

Bear claw marks

Elk graffiti-marks left on tree from where elk polished his horns

Elk graffiti-marks left on tree from where elk polished his horns

mushroom

fungi

fungi

The forest provides an inspirational photographic setting for jewelry…after years of shooting on the beach I am excited by the filtered light and moodiness of the woods.

men's copper cuff

men’s copper cuff

musroom rings 2

Mist Ring on alder leaf

Mist Ring on alder leaf

copper cuff and lycopodium moss

copper cuff and lycopodium moss

 

cuffa and mushrooms

so many mushrooms, so little time!

labrynth and mushrrom

 

black beach stone ring and maple leaf

black beach stone ring and maple leaf

After several  weekends spent tromping through the woods, I dive back into the studio with fresh ideas that practically explode off the bench!

And speaking of new work...I will be showing at the fabulous Santa Cruz Sea Glass Festival   November 7 and 8th. To see more new work , I invite you to follow me on Instagram

in progress on the bench

in progress on the bench

sea glass and eel grass

sea glass and eel grass

I have to thank Bruce and his father Marv for giving me a real insider’s tour of the forest that I have lived so close to and yet never really known before. I hope to share more photos in future posts with you.

October sunrise by Marv Jones

October sunrise by Marv Jones

In closing, hope you are having a terrific Autumn, and taking some time to enjoy the changing of the season.

 

 

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!

WtGFnYV88nC6CkUbIi-sZjZPDwaAI1M7eJM4I5Avi1ILAYspN

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…

vWNGW8H6nJbOl5UG_E1REIcah5F_F6xtPbnefFOGucgLAYspN

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.

coin shirt tribal

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:

caycous ringblue

scott2

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.

beecoin 2

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!

cathenge

Daybreak-Cat Henge!

tokeland skyine1Sunset, Tokeland Skyline-Sophia and Raleigh

 

scotsunset

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.

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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!

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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

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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…

 

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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…

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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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