Beach Combing

All my life I have loved the beach. It is not because I want to catch up on my tan, I actually can’t stand to just sit on the beach. BORING. I love the beach because the things that I find on it. I can go hours on end combing the beach. Some of the things that I enjoy to search for include sea glass, sand dollars, moon shells, and sea urchins. Johnny always hated the beach. Once he met me he learned how he could enjoy it.
Not everyone has the opportunity to go to the Caribbean on a cruise but for our honeymoon Johnny and I were given a gift for just this. For our honeymoon we ended up on a Princess Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. The port was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and we visited Princess Cays Bahamas, Grand Turk, St. Thomas and St. Martin. Our favorite island was by far Grand Turks. Instead of doing the island excursions we decided to explore the beach. We found what we refer to as a graveyard of conch shells.
 They were everywhere. Johnny and I gathered four to bring home with us. When we went to board the ship we were told to dispose of them. Thankfully, Johnny kept our favorite one! We also found a lot of sea glass at Grand Turk.

Someone on the island had a little art in their heart!

Digging for the perfect conch shell!

I can find sea glass at almost any beach I go to. I’m not lucky, you just have to have the eye for it and know where to look. You could go miles without finding anything but once you find that one rocky area on the beach you’ll be sure to find sea glass. Some of the beaches that I find a lot of sea glass at include Scarborough Beach and Dunes Beach which are both located in Rhode Island. Also if ever you get the chance to go to Block Island the state beach has quite a bit of sea glass. All you need to do is find out what time low tide is at and you will be sure to find some. When I get home I usually put the sea glass I find in jars or I use it for jewelry or art pieces. In Maine you can find sea glass at Fortunes Rocks beach. This year I found my first piece of purple sea glass.

Johnny and Me collecting sea glass at Scarsborough Beach in Rhode Island.
Handmade seaglass necklace.

Sand Dollars are my favorite thing to find. They are beautiful but they are so fragile. I have found them at Dunes beach in Rhode Island but I have found the most at Gooserocks beach in Kennebunkport Maine. In the summer of 2010 I spent everyday searching for sand dollars. I was successful and came home with about 15 pieces. I would wake up at the crack of dawn to meet with low tide to find the sand dollars. I became possessed by it! I actually spent two full nights dreaming about searching for sand dollars. My in laws later stopped at the local artist’s gallery, Mimi Gregorie Carpenter and bought a piece of her artwork for me. It was a water color painting called “Sand Dollars”. Mimi even signed it “Remember the sand dollars of 2010 when you combed the beach at Goose Rocks! How many sand dollars did you find?” Mimi Gregorie has been an inspiration for some of my art work.

 I was inspired to do these two colored pencil drawings after seeing Mimi Gregorie's artowrk. I also did some in water color paint.

Later during that following March I would learn something that I wished I had known before.
Johnny and I got married on March 14, 2009. For our 2 year anniversary we went and stayed in Biddeford Maine at his aunt’s house. The weekend that we went it happened to be the same weekend as the biggest full moon in 20 years! The moon has a lot to do with controlling the tides. On a regular full moon you will find that the tides are at their extreme but seeing that it was the biggest moon in 20 years meant that the tides were at their absolute extreme! At low tide Johnny and I decided that we would go down to the beach and see if we could find any sand dollars. Much to our surprise they were everywhere! We were practically stepping on them. I don’t know if you know what New England is like in March but it is freezing. Especially by the ocean. And I was so determined to get as many sand dollars as possible that I was even going in the water to grab them. By the time we left the beach my fingers felt frostbit and I could barely walk because my toes felt like they were falling off, but it was so worth it! I can home with 89 large sand dollars! Never again will I go sand dollar hunting during the busiest time of year. I will just wait for the next full moon in the off season. And I will also remember to double up my socks and bring warm water proof boots!

The weekend of our two year anniversary Johnny picked out the two heart rocks for me from the beach!

Gooserocks beach is also known for its moon shells which you can gather by the bucket full. I usually like to use these on the picture frames and mirrors that I cover with shells. I have yet to find out where all the sea urchins are but I have been fortunate enough to find one this summer.

Sand Dollar Frames
What would you do with 89 sand dollars if you had them? I'm not sure - but I better figure out something to do with all the sand dollars that I found back in March so tonight I decided to do a quick 5 minute project. I decided to frame some of my sand dollars.

What you will need:
Construction Paper
Picture Frame
Sand Dollars
Glue Gun

Tape the Construction Paper onto the back of the mat board. You may have to cut it to fit.

Shake the sand dollar to get all the sand out of it. Once it is clean apply hot glue to the back of it.

Place the sand dollar on the construction paper. I decided to center mine. Don't press to hard on the sand dollar because they are very fragile and you could break it. Then you'd have to start all over again! If you wanted to you could choose to bleach the sand dollar before framing it to make it a pure white. If you do decide to do that make sure you let it air dry before putting it onto the construction paper. The next step after glueing the sand dollar onto the construction paper is to put the frame together.

I decided to make two for my walls. I like this one a lot because it shows the different sizes and colors that you can find a sand dollar in.

Seashell Frame

Like this mirror? How much do you think it costs? $995.00! I know I can't afford it. So why not do it yourself! This post is about the set up for begining your own seashell mirror, and it costs close to nothing. The next time you find yourself at the beach try to make sure that you bring home a bucketfull of shells. That's what I usually do. When I get home I then wash the shells. You can bleach them, but if you do that it will take the color out of them.

I usually take all my shells and I put them in a large strainer and clean them with regular dish soap and hot water.

I really move the shells around when I clean them to make sure that I did a thorough job to get rid of the sea shell smell. After the first time of rinsing all the soap out I pour them out of the strainer and put them back in again to move them around. Then I repeat the process. When I'm done I put them on a cookie sheet with paper towels to air dry.

I let the shells air dry in a safe place where my cats won't get to them. I make sure that they are completely dry before starting my project.

For this project you will also need a glue gun, make sure you also have enough glue inserts so that you don't have to go out to get them again. You also need a wooden frame. It can't be the fake plastic wood because the shells won't stay attached to the frame. If you buy the frame at the store they can be kind of expensive. The best place to find them are at a tag sale or a consignment shop. This is the frame that I will be working with. A friend was cleaning out their garage and they were going to throw it away. I said I'd take it!

This is just to help you prepare for your project! In a future post I will show you what to do next!

Three days later:

A lot has happened in the past few days! Johnny and I have been looking at homes for over a year now...... and we finally put a bid on one! We are just patiently waiting to hear back to see if our bid has been accepted. I am really excited and I hope we get this home. We wanted something that is in liveable conditions, and also in a decent neighborhood. We also wanted one that needed some work so we can use a little bit of our talents to fix and decorate! In the mean time I didn't want any of you to think that I have forgotten about the seashell mirror so here is the progress!

I began by making a border around the entire frame with small moonshells.  Then I lined the moonshells with tiny orange rocks that I collected from the beach. Unfortunately I ran out of small shells for the border - that means sometime soon I will have to make a trip out to the beach! After working on the border I randomly attached the larger shells to various areas on the frame. I did all of this with a glue gun.

It doesn't look like much now but I know when the frame is complete it will be beautiful. As for right now my next step will be to fill in all the gaps with smaller shells until the frame is complete! Then I have to buy a mirror that will fit in the frame.