Tag Archives: judith altruda jewelry

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

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.

Summer 2016

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice and a rare full moon to boot-I was lucky to wake up to a beautiful visitor (two of them, actually) coming in off the beach.

In a few weeks, I will be heading to Los Angeles, and then Japan. Inspired by the upcoming travel, I am making rock star pieces for photo shoots in Tokyo, and Fuji Rock. Japan’s biggest outdoor music festival, the line up features The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Lee Scratch Perry, Wilco, Courtney Barnett, and many more! I will be traveling with my brother and his bandJump With Joey (playing the theme song in the video below)

Recently Jeffro, Spencer and I got out the big guns to texture some copper  for a sculpture project. We tried different calibers and ranges to see what kind of patterns we could create.  As everything seems to be interconnected, the “scraps” from the sculpture are being made into some “killer” cuffs and buckles. 

 Our target was copper sheet, which we shot full of holes at various ranges.

Our target was copper sheet, which we shot full of holes at various ranges.

 Shot through the heart!

Shot through the heart!

Belt buckles, detail of texture

 Lichen Buckle- buckshot texture, acid etched copper with sea glass

Lichen Buckle- buckshot texture, acid etched copper with sea glass

Here is an in-process shot of our Kingfisher sculpture…. 

 After being shot, the copper is etched in acid, then cut into smaller pieces...

After being shot, the copper is etched in acid, then cut into smaller pieces…

 Jeffro uses the torch to selectively char the wood.

Jeffro uses the torch to selectively char the wood.

Our process began with a shotgun blast, followed by an acid bath and fire…we can hardly wait to see what happens next!

 

 I have been doing a lot of etching this Spring, including a series of the Major Arcana.

I have been doing a lot of etching this Spring, including a series of the Major Arcana.

Here are some recent jewelry projects:

 Custom ring for Jessamyn

Custom ring for Jessamyn

 Ammolite pendant, photo by Marcy Merrill

Ammolite pendant, photo by Marcy Merrill

 Gemini ring-ancient silver coin, Greek. circa 280 B.C.photo by Marcy Merrill

Gemini ring-ancient silver coin, Greek. circa 280 B.C.photo by Marcy Merrill

 Crown buckle, fresh off the bench!

Crown buckle, fresh off the bench!

 I will end this post with the promise to update my blog from Japan, and the hope that you have a magical summer !