In the early 1960s my father's company sent him to work on the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. I was around 6 or 7 at the time and could not fathom where in the world this was or what he was doing in this far away place. I recall with vivid clarity during his absence, the large heavy boxes that would arrive on our doorstep, much to my mothers dismay, with treasures from the beaches of Kwajalein Island. I'm not talking about a few tiny trinkets but large netted Japanese glass fishing floats, a fractured glass and brass porthole from a warship and other miscellaneous finds. I am so thankful he had the foresight to see the value in washed up sea-drift.
As you would imagine, seashells were in the mix but not just the expected types. My favorites were these interesting aubergine colored sea urchin spines. Those pointy little shells were like nothing I had ever seen before and I found them mesmerizing. I remember crafting a handful of them into wind chimes I am sure hung somewhere in my childhood home. After a time, those unique spiked shells were packed away and forgotten.
Fast forward 50 years later and my mom hands me this vintage, draw string, cotton bag containing dozens of those shells my dad foraged so many years ago. She unearthed these somewhere in her home and cared to share them with me, expecting I might do something creative with them.
I removed them from the bag and immediately added some to a little display on my coffee table and the rest went into a vintage bowl in my studio. As I considered these special shells for several weeks I became inspired to fashion a piece of jewelry to celebrate their sentiment and create something truly unique. Many had holes in the tops and I am uncertain if they appeared naturally or if my father perhaps drilled them as I assembled my wind chimes. In any case that tiny void provided the perfect anchor point for my idea.
I created several free form wire shapes, hammered, attached and finished them with a leather cord, in keeping with the natural and bohemian vibe. They are whimsical, unique and special in so many ways.