Tag Archives: English sea glass

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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

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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!

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!)