When did you first start making your Sea Glass Jewellery, and who or what inspired you to begin?
I first began tinkering around making simple sea glass jewellery as a hobby about 10 years ago, although I have collected it since I was a kid. A couple of years after that, a friend and fellow jeweller referred me to a metalsmithing instructor. Although I took many classes in metalsmithing, I found the most satisfaction in making fine jewelry and, in particular, the finish process. Almost overnight, my jewellery began to take off in a new direction and I quickly developed a reputation as one of only a handful of goldsmiths in the world making fine sea glass jewellery.
I was inspired to start selling my work out of necessity, really....Although I had been told by some friends and family that I should be selling my jewellery. I had been more or less afraid to even show my work to the public, much less offer it for sale. However, I was laid-off in 2007, and after several months with no real prospects had a 'now or never' moment. In 2009, it became a full-time operation and I haven't looked back since.
Sea glass is also a major influence on my work, and I will often spread many shards out on a table and wait for them to speak to me (you can see evidence of this methodology in my workbench pic). I have never been want for ideas when I have sea glass around, my problem is deciding which one(s) get attention first!
Do you have a studio space you work from, tell us about it?
I still work from the same re-purposed coffee table I picked up at the thrift store several years ago. It is all I could afford when I first began my business, and is as simple as it gets...it is a daily reminder of where I have come from.
What mediums or techniques do you work with?
Although professionally trained in many metalworking and professional jewellery-making disciplines, I am regarded most for my artistically designed work with authentic sea glass, and for its professional finish, which is perhaps the trademark of my work. Although I still use simple hand tools every day, and love every part of the jewellery-making process, I am most comfortable working with my torch (acetylene/oxygen). I have worked with it for so many hours over the years that I find myself switching from right hand to left without so much as a passing thought.
Are there any new mediums or techniques that interest you?
I am fascinated with Mokume Gane! As a rule, I'm always interested in new techniques, and I think that artists are always re-inventing wheels anyways, so anything that's new and artsy is worth learning as far as I am concerned. My philosophy has always been that you won't know whether something is for you unless you first try it.
Mokume Gane Sea Turtle
What is the main inspiration for your designs?
The main inspiration for my work is sea glass. To a collector, and I think I speak for them all, sea glass shards are alive. I truly get a feeling of the life of the thing, and what it may have been, and how it found its way to me. I know that not everyone feels the same as many collectors feel so, when I make jewellery, I strive to make settings that help everyone else see the life in the shard.
Do you have any anecdotes about your work?
One interesting anecdote about my work is that I have thousands of pieces of sea glass that I have personally collected along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and very little of it I would classify as 'fine jewellery quality'. As such, I began specialising in and importing rare shards from all over the world several years ago, while my collection now sits in boxes.
What has been your favourite piece that you've made?
My favorite piece(s) of jewellery is always any big project I am currently working on. I like to do things that haven't been done before, so it is so much fun for me to figure out how to get what I see between my ears into something everyone else can see. Sometimes that process takes months, and the anticipation in getting it done so you can show everyone else is just awesome. The elves in the workshop however, don't like me to talk about anything we're currently working on, so you'll just have to stay tuned!!! (...but you can get a peek in my workshop pic at all of the current ongoing projects)
Essence of Cobalt
What keeps you going while you work?
I have a number of things that are constants when I am at the bench: Coffee or Dr. Pepper, my cat Iggypop Corns, music and the tv news on silent.
Iggypop Corns, loungin'
Tell us about where you sell your work and any upcoming exhibitions.
I have an exhaustive schedule of fine art events that I attend during the summer months, and during the winter I put inventory on the website (www.SeaSandAndHand.com), and on my Facebook business page of the same name, while I spend much of my time making new works. Year-round, my jewellery is featured at the only artist's co-operative on the barrier islands (KDH Co-Operative), in addition to one other local art gallery specialising in fine handmade works (Made in OBX).
Do you have a favourite tool?
My two favorite tools are my torch, and an old re-purposed toothbrush that I fasten to my index finger and use to form metal. I learned a few years ago that just because someone calls it one thing doesn't meant that that is all it can be used for. It's also a good way to save money not buying tools that you can make or refashion yourself.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to someone wanting to start up their own jewellery business?
Develop a thick skin and keep at it. We all start in the same place with our very first set of pliers ...do what you feel without regard to the criticism of others, and remember, hard work does pay off!
What's next for Sea Sand and Hand?
I hope to begin incorporating authentic sea glass with more precious metals and gemstones in the future. I will also be making more extensive one-of-a-kind ensembles like 'Galaxy'. With a little bit of luck and exposure, I hope to one day see my jewellery on the red carpet! :)
A huge thanks to Pembroke for sharing his beautiful work with us.
If you're interested in the wonders of Sea Glass, get down to your nearest beach and see what you can find., there's many a treasure to be found!
If you're looking for inspiration on things to make with sea glass, need some help in knowing where to find it or want to know how to drill through sea glass to make pendants and earrings for example, have a read of our various articles.
Diamond Core Drills for Drilling Sea Glass
If you would like to be a featured artist, review tools or be a guest article writer, then we'd love to hear from you.