Wednesday, June 29, 2011


                                                                   EQUAL`S A NEW DESIGN

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


In this blog I will explain what a blue ribbon means to me. In this picture, the category I entered was listed as, “A Traditional Sailors’ Valentine” at the Sanibel Show and as you can see, out of all the entries in that category in 2007, I took first place.

Again, in 2010, I entered the same category and was lucky enough to repeat with the same results, first place!  I am very happy and honored to know that the judges felt I was worthy again of the same result, but there`s a lot more to my story than just what the judges felt.
  When I look back at the first pocket watch I ever produced, I remember the experience vividly as if it was yesterday. I struggled and reconstructed it three times and on the final try even though I was not satisfied with it, it took first place in my very first show.  Sanibel Shell Art Show in 2002.

 At that same 2002 Show, I entered this small eight inch tall Apple Blossom tree and it also took first place. I could not believe how I lucky I was to receive first place in the two categories I entered!  So I’m standing there and I see this trophy for “Best First-Time Exhibitor” and low and behold it was for my art work!!! To say I was surprised was to say the least. What made these awards all the more special was that I knew I did not need to share them with anyone, I was a self-taught artist, who had never taken a class. It was a great first step into the World of Shell Art.
But the best award came later in that Show when a lady came by and was bending down taking a close look at my eight inch Apple Blossom Tree. She would look at the tree and turn her head and look at me, then look again at the tree, then again at me. I knew something was going on and finally turned and looked directly at me, this six foot, two hundred pound guy standing there with my hands in my pockets and asked, if I created the it and answered,"yes”. Then still standing there she asks if I could do her a small favor and I said "sure what would you like to know", and say`s, “Can I see your hands?”  Well here it is 2011 and I can still see her standing there asking that question like it was yesterday.  From that time on, I have learned a lot, not only about shell art but the reactions I receive from the public. 
I can humbly say I have won many awards, but to me the best blue ribbons come from the public's reaction and personally feel, that they are the true judges of my art. On a number of occasions I have received requests from budding artists asking me to critique there art. The first time this happened I did not know what to do or say but looking back over the years of experience in shows, and at times hearing comments from artists such as, “I don’t know how that artist could get first place over my entry,” I came up with my answer to the critique question. "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, even thou the judges are blind". So to close this blog, the reaction on peoples faces and what they have to say is the greatest blue ribbon any one can ever receive, as it was with the lady who asked “Can I see you hands” in my first show. So no matter what you may feel about the art you have created always know that it came from your heart and always be the first to award yourself  a Blue Ribbon, the first of many "Blue Ribbons" to come. B.

Monday, June 20, 2011


There are times working in my studio when it is so quiet you could hear a very tiny shell drop. It is during these times when I have chosen to have all man-made noises that surrounds us every day in the turned “off” position. In these times’s while sorting out shells for my next creation, it is when my mind will start to wander. I have to say that I am very “well traveled” and have logged many miles of wandering over the years
So while I am what others’ refer to as in the “zone” while sorting a collection of shells by size and color, this one particular story would always seem to come to mind. So here it is…

There was this old time mason installing round beach stones finishing up a fireplace inside the new dinning room of the restaurant that I worked in. At one point, the owner of the restaurant came around the corner and stood in the doorway and saw the mason creating his work of art. He watched the mason meticulously look over the stones on the floor that surrounded him, picked one up dabbing a little mortar on it and carefully setting it in place which was always a perfect fit. Then the mason turned his head looked again at the stones on the floor picked one up dabbed a little mortar on it and set in place, yet another perfect fit. After watching this process a number of times, the owner said in amazement “how do you know which stone to choose knowing that it would fit perfectly each and every time?”  The mason half looked at the owner and said…………… SORRY, this is where I have to stop the story to tell you how it relates to shell art. I promise you, it will be well WORTH the interruption.
Now I am going to set the stage for my second story and I promise to get back the first one.  So here I am at a shell art show demonstrating and answering questions in my usual, inviting manner when three ladies walk up to my table. The conversation is pretty much routine viewing my art work when one of the women asks, “What are those little green shells you are installing in that Sailors Valentine?”  

 So I answered, “These shells are called Emerald Nerites.” She quickly responds, “it’s amazing how you have installed them in perfectly straight rows and all the same size. How are you able to do that?” In that one SPLIT SECOND the masons answer FLASHED in my mind and I knew I was in trouble! 

So I picked one of the little Nerites with my tweezers held it in front of my Visor and said “with this magnification you can see that they are all…………. And the masons answer JUMPED RIGHT OFF OF MY TOUNGE ……… there all numbered!”
Well at least the women did not walk away without a word, as the Restaurant owner did after hearing the mason’s answer. I was quick enough to say to the women, “if you believe THAT, I can offer you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge”. We all laughed and now that I have told you the story, I have no need to try that CRAZY experiment ever again. All’s well that ends well. 

And there you have it, the intersection of two stories that complement each well enough to share the same answer!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Along time ago at the beginning of my Sea Shell adventures, I wondered what it would be like to create tiny shell flowers. I don’t even want to think about all the hours, of trial and error I went thru to come up with this system. Even with what I just stated, it was only last week I thought about a modification that might improve the process. I recall a quote from the past, “If you don’t succeed this fist time try, try, try again,” so that’s what I did. I can say with certainty that this NEW and IMPROVED EASEL painted flat black to cut down glare helped. I wonder if this will be the last revision or will someone reading this blog suggest a totally different approach?  So much for musing, it’s time to get on to making Shell Flowers the only way I know how at the moment.
Pictured here is nothing more than a piece of plywood painted flat black with a piece of
Glass glued on top. This is my easel or should I call it a “hot grow house” to make the flowers bloom?
Shown here is a grouping of small shells of different colors, shapes and sizes. Some have been stained and some are in their natural state as nature provided. In the center of the picture are mustard and poppy seeds which will be used as stamens along with Tweezers, a small pin to apply glue and my old friend Tacky Glue, to help the flowers grow.
In this picture I have picked up one of the shells with my tweezers and I`m just touching the hinge end of the shell to the surface of the glue. In other words, a little goes a long way, so you only need to use a very small amount. At this point, I can hear whispering in the background saying “what’s the deal with the bottle cap attached to what looks like a hinge?” Well it’s an invention of mine and as long as I`m handcuffed to this bench, I will do a blog on it before long, so stay tuned. But for now it’s on to making flowers. So I dipped the end of the shell into the glue and in the next picture I`m setting it on the glass.
Here you see the numbers 1 thru 4.  I have set this picture up in this manner to avoid having four separate pictures to show the process of creating the flowers.

Number 1: I have placed the shell I had dipped in the glue on to the glass easel.

Number 2: Using the same process again I have placed two shells together on the glass.

Number 3: Now I have placed three shells together on the glass and created a three petal flower.

Number 4: Repeating the same process if you wish to have a larger flower or a different style I placed five shells together on the glass.

Number 5: Well as you can see, so far so good! 
In this picture you see I continued on creating flowers until I came full circle to the point where the flowers are ready to receive stamens.

In the next picture you see all the stamens installed. I applied a tiny amount of glue in the center of the flower using a small pin then with the tweezers I dropped the seed into the glue. As you can see, the poppy seeds fit well in the small flowers and the mustard seeds fit better in the larger ones. WOW! I am closing in on the end of this blog and I may not be late for supper after all, now that is a first!!!
Well here I am rounding the turn to the home stretch…with a single edge razor blade sliding it back and forth in very short strokes in a sawing type motion the flower will pop free from the glass. So what do you have to say, do you think you can do it? 
Well the rest is up to you.  You can create a flourishing vine as in my “Beach Scene” project or in the picture below using cloth coated wire create a Royal Poinciana Tree. Either way, I will leave your unique creativity up to you.
Now that you have mastered the art of making flowers, the possibilities are endless. I can hardly wait to see your creation at the next Shell Art Show. I hope to see you there and please stop by my table and say hello.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Pictured here are three different items. Do you know which one is an egg case?

It’s a sunny day and I’m walking along the beach minding my own business and a few feet in front of me I spot what is in the following picture.   I said to myself, what in the world is this. Actually I used different words than that, but never mind. So I picked it up and what ever it was it did not bite so I felt,so far so good.  So I’m standing there looking at it and people are stopping and asking “what do you have there?” I answer “I have no idea.”  

Well my first mistake was to hang it on my “Official” Government approved shell collecting basket. I continued on my beach walk and as people were passing by not one of them asked me my name or who I was, it was “what do you have there?” I kept repeating my answer over and over, “ I have no idea”  to the point that I was thinking about letting the ocean have it back, when all of a sudden a woman passing by said “I see you found a Mermaid’s Necklace!” So before she could get away I yelled at her “a Mermaid’s what?” She replied, “A Mermaid's Necklace, egg cases. Inside each one of those disks there can be as many thirty or more baby Whelk Shells”.   I was grateful for the answer so I continued on my beach walk and when people asked “what do you have there” I answered “A Mermaids Necklace, there can be as many as thirty or more baby Whelk Shells inside each one of these disks.”, as if I was now the authority on the art of shell collecting.    
So back to the question “Which one is an egg case?” The answer, all three!
Baby Whelk, Baby Tulip and an empty egg case from last weeks breakfast.

I guess some of you would like to see what they look like once they are removed from their egg cases .( Before I go further I do not collect these egg cases if they are in the surf, I only collect them if they are dried out up on the beach.)
Pictured here is a Whelk case with few of the baby shells removed along with what they would have grown to be if they had matured in the Ocean.
Pictured here is another type of egg case called a Tulip with babies removed and a matured Tulip Shell.
So now when you take a stroll on the beach you can point and say to your friends. “That’s a Mermaids necklace!” But if you pick one up and carry it along as I do people will come up to you and ask all kinds of questions about “what do you have there.” So I came up with a quick answer! They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I glued the answer to my beach hat.
Last but not least, since I learned that what I was carrying was a Mermaid’s Necklace, I made a point of going to the beach earlier and earlier each morning, even at times with a flash light. Sadly she leaves me her necklace on the beach but is always gone before I arrive!