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!
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
What have I been working on lately? An earring extravaganza (and some sea glass pendants)! I created all these earrings, which will be offered for sale at Lighthouse Bagels in Corolla, NC (Go OBX!)
With earrings, I love to focus on simple, light, easy to wear designs. Of course, I also like to add some additional visual interest. I love adding color or sparkle to fun elements such as sea shells or charms. Beach style should have a sense of fun and/or whimsy. If you ever feel "stuck in a rut" when making earrings, here are my Top 5 suggestions to get you on a new path:
1. Simplify - if you have a beautiful larger focal, such as a charm or pendant for your earrings, let them take center stage. Here, these gorgeous sea shells really shine. Plus, there are light weight so they're easy to wear.
2. Don't be afraid to make a statement - Statement earrings are really on trend. Go bold with your focal and add some length to your earrings to let them sweep down toward the shoulders. I loved these large lampwork glass starfish. Adding the aquamarine bead really lets them swing and attract attention.
3. Shine baby shine - I'm a sparkle girl, so I love crystals of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, i just need to add a little extra glitter to an already nice element. Take these mermaid earrings. The reversible mermaid charms are really nice. To make them a little more glamorous, I added some Swarovski flat-back crystals to the mermaid's tail. Since I wanted to carry on the mysterious feel that mermaids evoke, I dangled the charms from Swarovski vitrail crystals, which flash with a rainbow of colors.
4. Twins can be fraternal - In other words, don't be afraid to mix and match. Your earrings do not have to be exactly the same. Find a common theme or color to bring it all together. My theme in this example is all about the sea. I paired a seahorse with a sand dollar. As you can see they are also different sizes. No worries, I simply found the right size beads in my color pallet to help even everything out.
5. Going green is gorgeous - I'm big on recycling. One of my favorite weekend events is hitting the beach for treasure hunts. I look for anything and everything that I could recycle into cool jewelry. I'm always fascinated (or disgusted - people leave so much trash on the sand) by what I find. It's always a treat to find sea glass in any shape, size or color. Here, these sea glass earrings are wire wrapped in copper and paired with fresh water pearls. It's organic looking with a lot of warmth.
So, if you're ever at Ft Fisher beach, NC on the weekend, say hello. I'm easy to find. Just look for the lady in the neon pink hat who's carrying some bags and a net.
If you happen to be in the Outer Banks, stop by Light house bagels, say hello to everyone there, and ask for a french toast bagel (that's my fav!)
Below are some more earring examples to enjoy.
Each week I try to hit the beach. My favorite activity is trolling the beach for any treasures. To me, this means shells, sea glass, and any bits and pieces that catch my fancy.
My favorite spot for a treasure hunt is the 4 wheel drive beach at Ft Fisher. I find more sea glass and bright shells in this location than any other beach in Wilmington, NC.
This week, I found some fun things! Yes, I even found some dinosaurs! :-)
Meet my newest friends Calvin and Hobbes who I rescued this morning. Hopefully, they'll give me some great inspiration.