In retrospect, it seems unsurprising that I should end up in the niche occupation of sea glass artist! I grew up by the sea, in the Scottish Highlands, and my earliest memories are of daily strolls along the beach with my mum to collect ‘treasure’ to turn into art projects.
One M.A. , two children, three sensible jobs and four decades later I have returned to my earliest preoccupation.
Whenever possible I spend my holidays combing the beaches of Cornwall, Northumberland and Scotland for sea glass, driftwood, sea pottery, rocks and shells that I use to create original artwork. I was one of the first artists in the UK to use sea glass as a medium and many of my designs have inspired others makers.
There are certain themes that I enjoy working and reworking, but often the images I produce are one-offs, never to be repeated. My work is often described as whimsical and fun, though not all of my pieces are light hearted. Some of my earliest work reflects my environmental concerns such as the plight of the polar bear or the North Dakota pipe line. Other pieces have been created in memory of someone special or reflect the transitory nature of life.
An image can be made from 4 pieces of sea glass or 400. You might think more pieces of glass equals a better picture but achieving simple perfection is often deceptively difficult.
Sea glass is just ordinary glass that has found its way into the sea and over many years has been smashed and pounded by the waves into lovely smooth shapes. It washes up as either frosted, irregular flat shapes or pebble-like marbles.
The sea glass I work with is genuine beach-combed glass and has not been tampered with in any way: I do not colour it, tumble it or shape it. I enjoy the challenge it creates though this can be frustrating at times!
Some of the glass is a couple of centuries old and some of it is very rare. Only 1 in 10,000 pieces of sea glass collected off the shore will be pink, red, purple or orange. Sea glass is disappearing from our shores and being replaced by plastic so it is a finite resource. Collecting the sea glass keeps our beaches tidy and reminds us of our industrial heritage. Keep your eyes peeled for this beautiful treasure next time you take a stroll by the shore!
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