So I'm planning a trip to the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina July 21-25. The plan is to visit family, rest and relax. The beaches will be packed, but I'm still planning on regular beach treasure hunts to see if I can find any shells, pieces of sea glass, or other items to turn into fantastic, beach inspired jewelry.
The OBX is famous for many things. My favorite are the wild horses. On my last trip, my partner in crime, Erik, and I explored the 4 wheel beach and we were lucky enough to find some horses (see picture). The horses make their home on the beach and sometimes locals will find them squatting in their garages if the doors are open.
What's best about these trips is that I get another perspective. There are different colors, people and impressions that I can work into my designs. Where do you find inspiration? Feel free to share your thoughts!
Mermaids...beautiful, graceful, lovely sirens of the seas. When I imagine a mermaid, I think of long flowing hair and shimmering tails. But what about mermaid style? Here are my top 5 tips to creating a modern mermaid style:
1) Show off your inner mermaid - To me, mermaid style can be literal. There are some gorgeous charms like the mermaid earrings I made above. Images of mermaids can be whimsical, colorful, and fun.
2) Make an impression - Mermaid style can be relative. What do I mean by that? Think about the attributes of the mermaid. I love the image of long flowing hair and shimmering tails flashing in the ocean. Take one attribute of this iconic ocean legend and use it to create a mermaid feeling in your look. For example, drape yourself with long flowing chains to mimic the long flowing locks of hair. Add some subtle sparkle or shimmer to your makeup, outfit, or accessories to reflect the shimmering scales of the mermaid's tail. (just be cautious here; too much sparkle and shimmer can be over the top)
3) Color: Sea - ing is believing - Where do you find mermaids? If your answer included the ocean, sea, water, etc. then you are correct. This lovely lady lives in the sea, so use a watery palette to create your mermaid style. Various shades of cool blues and greens work well together. It doesn't matter if you prefer a minimal or romantic style, color can help you be a modern mermaid.
4) Be Beachy - Shells, sea life (like starfish and sea horses), and other beach items can promote a fun, coastal mermaid style. Whether you love the natural look of shells or the bright colors of man made items like beach balls and umbrellas, think about how to add beachy elements to your look. Since I live at the beach, this is easy for me. I love hunting for things on the beach to turn into jewelry.
5) Materials make the mermaid - When I imagine mermaids, I picture an elegant beautiful figure. So this makes me think about what a mermaid would wear when it comes to her style. You can add instant mermaid style to your look by choosing jewelry and other accessories made of materials that a mermaid could fashion into something beautiful.
Pearls immediately come to mind. Lots and lots of pearls if you're feeling fancy. You can also add sea glass, shells, and surf tumbled stones.
See my jewelry below for some examples of my modern mermaid style:
I love the look of sea glass. When I view my collection, it's like looking at a firework display of color! I've been lucky enough to find many excellent pieces on my own or I've been given some great pieces by friends. Most of my collection comes from various North Carolina beaches.
Sea glass is also called beach glass since that's where it usually washes up. It's also called mermaid tears. Legend has it that mermaids lure sailors into the sea for companionship or more sinister purposes depending on the story. The myth behind mermaid tears is a romantic, sad story of course. One mermaid loved a ship's captain. When that captain fell into the sea during a storm, the mermaid calmed the sea and storm to save him. This was forbidden by Neptune.. As punishment, she was banished to the bottom of the ocean, never again to swim in the sun or see her beloved captain. Her tears are said to wash ashore as beautiful pieces of colorful sea glass gems.
It's a romantic tale for sure, especially if you are drawn to the ocean. Sea glass hunters like me seek out these bits of glass for various reasons. I love finding a piece, feeling their weight, examining their texture and finish, imagining their histories and stories. But the truth is that most sea glass comes from trash.
That's right...most of what you will find comes from broken beer, wine or soda bottles. Sometimes though, you may find sea glass that comes from a shipwreck. This means the glass comes from an older medicine bottle or perfume bottle. This is where you get some rare colors such as blue and pink sea glass. I was lucky enough to find a delicate pink mermaid's tear with a lovely vine pattern.
Hunting for sea glass isn't hard. Simply grab your sunscreen, and hit the beach. What you are looking for is a small piece of glass that has been tumbled in the ocean and sand for while. This process gives the glass a matte finish and rounds off the sharp edges. You can usually tell the difference between genuine sea glass and man made sea glass because genuine sea glass is not perfectly finished. There should be chips, nicks, and texture to the glass. This is why I love to work with sea glass in jewelery. Every piece is unique.
Now, spotting sea glass on sand can be tricky because there may be a lot of things around or, if it's white or brown glass, the sea glass may blend into the beach itself. It's very easy to walk right by these hidden gems. Let's test your sea glass spotting abilities. Below are two photos of sea glass on the beach. Can you spot both pieces?
Great job! Simply look for that matte finish and translucent rounded shaped. If you're lucky, you'll spot a piece of sea glass in a brilliant color. Now what do you do with it? You can save it and decorate with it. I've seen vases and lamps filled with brilliant sea glass. I've also seen beautiful frames for mirrors and pictures covered in sea glass. There are also sea glass mosaics made by some fabulous artists on Etsy. Me? I love making jewelry out of it.
As a jewelry designer, part of the fun with sea glass is finding the right piece and finding the right setting. Smaller pieces work better as earrings. Other larger pieces make better pendants and necklaces or even bracelets. It's all about being creative and letting the sea glass take center stage. I don't like to cover up the sea glass too much. I really want the sea glass to have presence and be a focal point. But I admit, I'm loving pendants the most. Here are some of my current offerings - all available at ModernMermaidDesign.Etsy.com