Summer at the Beach 2015

Serving SpoonsHere in the sunny south it seems as if summer is winding down. The pools are closing during the week. The kids are going back to school. The temperatures are a scorching 90 plus degrees. Oh, wait. There are still a couple of months of the season left. Because of this sweltering hot weather, I still dream of a beach vacation with the sand and the salty surf and vivid sunsets.

Alas (does anyone still say that?), my beach vacation is not to be this year, but I can still enjoy a bit of the beach life in my own home.

I have a new challenge from Znet Shows.  This summer’s challenge was to use their wonderful cultured Sea Glass to make non-jewelry items.  My first instinct was to make something that (while not jewelry) was similar in nature, but I like to stretch.  I have been playing a bit with wire wrapping and a year ago I had seen someone wrap serving spoons using wire and some small gemstones.  I had wanted to try this ever since.  That gave me the idea to create my own table decor using the cultured beach glass as my theme.

Table setting 1

I went to a discount store to find high quality (and highly discounted) serving spoons.  I chose a pattern that was plain and reasonably flat.  From the Znet Shows website, I chose cultured glass items that resembled shells, starfish, fish, and some irregular pieces that look like sea glass anyone might find.  I love the color choices, so I had to show real restraint to avoid selecting the whole rainbow, instead choosing warm colors for my beach table.

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The next items for my table were votive candle holders.  A table at the beach is not complete without a little candlelight.  I lucked out in this area.  My friend was in a local dollar store and found two glass holders that sort of resemble tiny hurricane lamps for a dollar each!  This project was coming together.

Votives (view of both)

The next element is napkin rings.  Even a beach table can be elegant and refined.  Some of the best hosts I know always cloth napkins on their tables.  I don’t entertain very much but I knew I wanted this to be part of my decor.

Napkin Rings

I had one more item that I attempted.  I will bring it up now, because someone else may be tempted to try a centerpiece.  Hopefully you can avoid my mistakes.  I bought a large glass vase with the idea that I would use it to hold a pillar candle and sand.  In the sand I was going to decorate along the vase with the cultured glass pieces. I was envisioning an underwater tableau in a glass “aquarium”.  I had everything I needed, but as soon as I added the sand the glass pieces became buried treasure.  It didn’t matter how I fixed the pieces, the sand filled all the available space and covered the beads.  I wanted the beads to be the star not the candle or the vase or the sand! so I ditched this idea.

For the votives and the spoons I took a rather simple approach.  I used a small gauge wire (22g) using a non-tarnish silver wire.  I did NOT use sterling or argentium because of the trial and error aspect of my beginner efforts and, frankly, I didn’t want the added expense if it wasn’t needed.  I used the small gauge because the wire had to fit through the holes of the beads, although I did use a larger gauge (16 g) around the votive to provide a base to wrap the wire around.  I did not try to match each piece exactly.  If I had to change anything I would have used flat wire on the spoons so that the wire would get a better grip on the handle, but I only had round wire in a fine gauge.  The photos also showed some wire ends that I thought I had tucked completely, but this is easily fixed.

The napkin rings were my favorite project for this round.  I found a small cylinder for a base and 16 g wire and created the basic napkin ring.  This took a few attempts to get something that would work.  After a little careful hammering to work harden the wire in strategic places so the circular shape wouldn’t bend too much and I was ready to wrap the sea glass pieces.  A larger gauge wire, 14 g or 12 g, might have been a better choice for the base, but 16 g is readily available at most craft and bead stores.

Overall, this challenge has been one of my favorites.  The cultured sea glass from Znet Shows is inexpensive and easy to to use.  The variety of shapes and colors was another plus, even though I kept my palette relatively small–green, gold and tangerine.  I am also a beginner at the wire wrapping and I didn’t find this to be too challenging.  I am sure the more skilled artisans could give this a more professional flair, but I was happy with the results.

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Now all I have to do is set the table and light the candles.   Ahhhh….can you hear the surf?

Please take a look at the Summer 2015 edition of the online magazine Creative Spark.  I’m on page 104! My work is featured as well as many other artists who took on various challenges using the cultured sea glass from ZNet Shows.  A quick note about Creative Spark, if you are using Mozilla Firefox, you will have to allow Adobe Flash and for that reason you cannot view on most mobile devices.  Also check out the website for ZNet Shows.  They have a great selection of beads including gemstones and Chinese crystal.

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