“More? More shells? You’re collecting more shells? What are you going to do with those ones?”
He had a point. I had a LOT of shells. Put me anywhere near a seashore and I will bend down, rummage around and find treasure. Then I will bring my treasure home with me.
At the time, home was a 27’ sailboat. It was not a big boat. Did I mention I had a LOT of shells?
“Um.... I’m going to make jewelry with them, yeah, that’s it, I’ll make jewelry”.
The fact that at that point I did not know how to make jewelry was irrelevant. A cruising friend did and over a few sunsets and beverages she showed me how to drill holes in the shells and string them together. As we were in Cuba where there are no shops to buy supplies from we used what we had. Twine and dental floss. It worked, I loved it.
Fast forward a few months and I was back in Canada with my shoe boxes full of shells. I discovered jewelry supply stores, and oh what a slippery slope that is. I also discovered that as lovely as my shells were they were somewhat monochromatic. I began buying glass beads to add to my shells. I also discovered that shells are very fragile and that glass beads are very bright and shiny and colourful. Soon the shells were no longer part of the jewelry I was learning how to create.
One day I walked into a local bead shop in an industrial area of the city. I wondered why the shop front was so small and in such a weird location. The owner explained that she needed to be in an industrial area because of the torches. I looked puzzled and she opened a door to the back room of the shop. I peeked inside.
And that my friends was the first time I saw people flameworking. Playing with fire. Melting glass. Creating little works of art.
I took an introductory class. The moment I sat in front of that flame and stuck a rod of glass in it I was hooked. A giant hammer hit me over the head with the thought, “this is what you are meant to do.” I have always found it wise to obey giant hammer thoughts.
16 years later I still feel that magic every time I fire up the flame and stick a rod of glass in it. I adore creating my little works of art. I think of a story and I sit down to tell it in the glass.
Oh, and to this day I still bend down on any seashore you put me on. And I will drag my treasures home with me. Who knows what will come of them?
Here's one of the things that did come out of all my walks, I found a beautiful shell with a smashed side. Inside I saw a perfect spine, all curves and ridges. I carefully carried that shell home, filed it down until I had a perfect sliver of spine, made a rubber mold and had it cast into sterling silver.