First and foremost, I am an avid collector at heart. I truly love everything about it! I think what serves me most as an artist, and more specifically a sea glass artist, is that long before I ever thought of making my first piece of jewelry I was fascinated with sea glass. I still find the most satisfaction learning what these historically significant pieces of time have to tell us about our past.
My family first moved to the Outer Banks in 1985. It was around that time that I came under the spell of the sea, and knew that I was home. Shortly thereafter, my curiosity got the better of me, as it does many teenagers, and I began looking for 'treasures' on the beach. It started innocently enough, in that I was simply enjoying my hobby of fishing from the beach, and doing what most people do when they are fishing from the beach... waiting. To help pass the time, I began to scour sections of beach north and south of where I had set out my lines and fill my pockets with shells, pebbles, driftwood, and anything else I could find with absolutely no idea of what I was going to do with any of it. When I'm out walking on the beach, my motto has always been, 'If it looks cool, or weird, put it in your pocket!'. The funny part to all of this is that now the hobbies are reversed. When I go to the beach nowadays, I will first scour the sand for sea glass and only when that is done will I try my luck at fishing.
Although I didn't feel the bite of the sea glass addiction initially, I occasionally collected a cool shard here or there, not knowing what I was finding, and put them in a clear dish when I got home. I laugh when I think of this because I believe those of us who collect sea glass all begin on the same path. That is, we start by putting it in a dish.
Over time, my curiosity grew and I began to research what I was finding. I started buying bottle dating and identification books, gaining knowledge about the shards I was finding and the actual life history of those who lived and worked in this area. I never tire of finding something really specific to our rich history here on the Outer Banks ...sure they could be something so simple as shards of a broken Coke bottle that a child left on the beach in the 1970s, or they could be something more sinister, and give us a glimpse into our storied past. Blackbeard the pirate, WWII U-boat sinkings, thousands of documented shipwrecks, hurricanes, rum-running during Prohibition of the 1930s, etc.
About 10 years ago, I had a bump on the head moment. I don't know how to explain it other than that. I began to see the shards in my mind as something like pieces of beautiful puzzles. My only relief was to try to make the things that were appearing between my ears. I tried a few crafty things, but found a fascination with jewelry-making.
I started buying books on using simple hand tools and, although I have a BA in Philosophy, went back to school and enrolled in a metalsmithing class at my local community college. I became hooked on the torch overnight. I like the idea that whatever I can think of can be made with fire and metal. However, what distinguishes my work from most others is the finish process. As a goldsmith, the ultimate goal of my work is to give the pieces a pristine organic look, as if the metal has grown from the focal point of the sea glass, and that human hands could not have done something so precise and exquisite. I hope you like my work.