Tag Archives: judith altruda

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

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  

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!

Good Morning October!

017

 

It’s been awhile since my last blog post..September has come and gone and with it, the summer season. When you live in a beach town there are definite signs of the season ending beyond the obvious (shorter days, cooler temps)  My neighbors for example- most are summer people, who spend the blissful season here in vintage cottages and deluxe RVs. For about a week or so in August a flurry of activity goes on: cleaning rain gutters, pressure washing porches, scrubbing moss off the roof with bleach, mowing lawns and killing gorse…. All this while I am lying on a beach towel in the back yard reading Yes I Can by Sammy Davis Jr.  I am soaking up sunshine for my internal solar battery. This is an essential part of winterizing for those who live here year round. We wait to clean out gutters, maybe the patio never gets pressure washed, but we are tanned!

We know IT (IT meaning the rainy season) is coming and we face it with a strange sense of surrender and relief. Yes there will be rain and more rain (more on that later) but there will also be peace, solitude, a beach with no footprints….the drama of storms (more on that later) the coziness of evenings spent feeding a fire….

For me, the days are especially great now that the kids have started back to school. Raleigh is a 7th grader, and Sophia is a freshman in high school this year. Both are running on the cross country team and both play in the school band. We spent a lot of time together over the summer and I treasure it. But I am also treasuring these long days alone at home, back in the studio, returning to projects that have been in my mind for too long. Keeping a balance is never easy, but right now there seems to be a good balance between surface level living (keeping food in the house, chopping firewood, picking up the kids from practice everyday) and below surface level~the deepest place of creative dreams and manifesting them.

We’ve already had a walloping three days of rain and wind blow through here. Nearby Astoria, Oregon reported ten inches of rain for September and 75 MPH wind gusts were clocked here over the weekend. Let the games begin!

What follows are some photos taken today in honor of October. It felt great to get out on the beach in between rain and hail showers…

046        025 salmon fishermen

023    020 new cuff I just finished

047     051

Fifteen minutes later a hail storm. Seen from inside my studio….light is from a fishing boat

053  after the squall…sunshine feels extra good!

Hope your fall season is a time of positive transition~I will keep you posted!

places and traces

tokemao

For over thirty years I have lived in this place called Tokeland in Washington state. It has been the longest lasting relationship in my life, not counting my family-none of whom live remotely close to here (but they do enjoy visiting in the summer.)

I came up here from Southern California when I was in my early twenties and found a way of life in a small rural community that continues to evolve. Sometimes I am in love with this place. Other times it is a test of endurance. Fourteen years ago I became a mother. My children, Sophia and Raleigh have enriched my life beyond compare (more about them in a future post.)

Somehow I am managing to raise my two children and still serve the needs of my muse (she is sort of a bitch if I don’t!)

I do love a challenge.

Here are a few pictures of places that inspire the jewelry I make…

IMG_5387    king tide, November 2012.

IMG_6357    IMG_6364

 

The highest tides of the year are called King Tides-we get them in roughly Fall and Spring. This was an 11.5 ft tide as seen from the beach where I live on Willapa Bay.

About three hours by car to the north, on the Olympic Peninsula,are rocky beaches that play host to all kinds of sea creatures. I love the shapes, colors, movement and life on display in salt water pools.As a child I was fascinated by tide pools-still am.

IMG_4899                              ane3

tide pool, Ruby Beach, WA                                                            sea anemone ring

 JUNE 2012015

Salt water rings on a kelp bed-photo by Marcy Merrill, my very special photographer friend who lives in the neighborhood.But more about Marcy in a future post!

Salt Water Jewelry

A beautiful, clear sky this morning in Tokeland. Days like this are too rare for studio work.or computer time…but before I head off for the beach, I would like to share a few very recent pieces of new work with you.

 

IMG_6345                     IMG_6362

All of these are made with sea glass found in the UK. The shapes of the glass are used ” as found”.That means, no reshaping of the sea glass has been done. That makes finding a piece that is suitable for jewelry and has a unique shape a real score!

I love heart shapes.In this pendant, a tiny pale green heart is surrounded with textural silver layers and a rich pink sapphire dangle.

The burgundy red sea glass in the ring is set in 18KT gold, with a small diamond sparkling off to one side.The shape of the sea glass is suggestive of a heart (maybe it’s the color) or a shield- is there a metaphor there?

IMG_6375   Salt Water earrings: I could see  Aceta, the Nereid of the Shore in ancient Greek mythology taking these earrings off and leaving them on a rock to go for a swim….especially on a day like today.

May your day be full of wonder!