Tag Archives: 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

places and traces

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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!