Friday, April 11, 2014

New Design: Octopus

What is it about Octopus's that we all love.  I think it's because they are amazing animals.  This may sound silly, but isn't it amazing that they actually exist?  I recently watched Oceans, a Disney documentary, and the Blanket Octopus was briefly mentioned.  That's a different story, but if you want to see something else in the octopus family that really exists check out the blanket octopus.

Now for my post.

My Momma called this morning and wanted to order a baby blanket for a baby girl.  And, she asked if I would try and make an octopus design.  I love an artistic challenge, even when I am screaming at my paintbrush or computer in the design process.  

I first sketched the little critter.
Octopus Sketch


Then, painted it pink, for obvious reasons.

Pink Octopus

And, designed in Photoshop this design.

Octopus Design for baby blanket

If Momma approves, I think we'll give the blanket and framed watercolor as a gift.  

And, the octopus project in a nutshell, or collage rather.

I hope you are all doing something outside today.  It's gorgeous!



Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Motivation for Cleaning Shells - Simon Pearce

Most of the time I love cleaning the shells that I find.  What makes it difficult right now?  The fact that winter won't seem to leave.  It's cold outside, and that takes away from the joy a little bit. 

Cleaning the loot

Most of the sea urchins I found were ripped from their homes.  And, they all took a beating.  Some cracked in half as I started the cleaning process.  Every time a sea urchin or sand dollar is broken, my heart breaks a little bit.

Battered, still intact, (and still gorgeous) Sea Urchin
These sand dollars are the ones I found in Kiawah.  They were also ripped from their beds by the severe current and new moon, so they needed a lot of sun bathing to get to their pristine whiteness. 

Sun Bathing Sand Dollars
So, you wonder, where my motivation for this labor intensive task came from?  This insanely awesome Simon Pearce Lamp that was a wedding gift from one of my favorite people.  You can see why.  And who would put lemons in a lamp when you have shells? 

Nantucket Lamp by Simon Pearce
I can't wait to get these babies all cleaned up for their new home.  The lamp can't wait either.  I think I'm the most impatient of all the inanimate objects I just gave feelings to.  :)


Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm dreaming of Sea Fans

Two days ago I posted some pictures of the sea urchins I found at Cape Fear Point on Bald Head Island.  At the end of the post, I snuck in a picture of a sea fan I also found.  I was dumbfounded when I found the beauty.  Many of the "fans" or what looks like a sea fan, are actually made up of a spongy material.  And as this material drys out, it turns brown, and it stinks.  It stinks almost permanently.

Spongy Sea Fan (no idea what it's actual name is).
I like the smell of low tide, but I think I am the only person.

Bald Head Island Sea Fan Loot

When I found this sea fan, I was overjoyed, because it is not the same specimen.  The fan part is firm, and keeps it's color.  I have dreams of putting it in a shadow box and looking at it everyday.  Since I don't feel like motivating to go by a shadow box today, I instead decided to make a design with it in mind. 

Sea Fan Design

What do you think?  Not only would this be great fabric for a scarf, but also perfect bathroom wallpaper.

If you find yourself wanting this design in any capacity, please contact me and we can order it, and even customize if you wish.  Email me at, and as always check out my other designs at


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kiawah Island - a sheller's paradise

Three weeks ago, my best friend Eliza had her bachelorette weekend at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.  I had never been before this trip.  I know it's hard to believe, but when you grow up on an island, you really have no reason to leave.  Not only are Eliza's friends lovely, and hysterical, but I was also treated with some of the best shelling of my life.  It's also a good lesson to keep in mind - sometimes you don't have to go far to find your next treasure.

If you are visiting Kiawah, or frequent the island and have never shelled via bike, that you rent one for your shelling adventure.  The best shells are north, and the point was pushing up sand dollars left and right.  Pushing up so many that I couldn't pick them all up.  Also, bring a bucket, and if you have the option of a basket for your bike, choose that option.

Great Tun (I almost started crying when I found it) and sand dollar.

Holy Sand Dollars!  I love the flat ones in the background.

Kiener Whelk at the point at the north end of Kiawah Island.

Wonder what is hiding under the sand washed over them?

Gorgeous Kiawah Sand Dollars!
One of many treasures going home with me.
 I would love to hear about what you find on Kiawah Island.  I can't wait to go back!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not so scary - Sea Urchins washing up on Cape Fear

It's no secret I love Bald Head Island.  But, it's not the most welcoming place when it's 37 degrees and raining.  The silver lining:  the shells that wash up during these cold storms.  Somehow I know, the more mean the weather, the more fruitful the shelling.  And, thankfully, I was correct.  Not only have the sea urchins been washing up in mounds, I also have a bit of color from the severe wind gusts.  Check out some of the pictures I captured.

South Beach Sea Urchin

Gorgeous East Beach Treasures

Old Baldy

Hide and Seek!

Treasures mixed with good storm gunk; gunk, technical term, usually brings goodies!


Baby Starfish.  I threw him back; hope he made it!

Doesn't this Sea Fan look fake?

I will post more pictures later when I can; after I clean the 104 sea urchins I found.  So excited to stock up.  Now I have more to give away!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Whelk Wonderland

Last spring I thought of the brilliant idea to "decorate" my garden by lining the outside of it with conchs.  Not that brilliant when you start thinking about what kind of animals will build their homes in them.  After all, that is exactly what a conch is, a home produced and inhabited by the aquatic animal living inside it.  That is until for whatever reason it leaves or dies and the lovely empty home washes on shore.

I finally did the deed of removing them from the garden, and rinsing them all off.  I let them sit out for a while thinking that it may take more time for all the new critters to leave.  And, then it iced and snowed.  On my conchs.  Which actually ended up being great because I got this fantastic picture of my babies in the snow.  (Conch's are resilient amazing shells, and a storm like this is nothing to them).

Winter Whelk Wonderland

I will not put my beautiful whelks in the ground ever again.  Promise.

Maybe because of this small task, I was inspired in the freezing cold to check out the beach the past couple of days.  Low and behold, more whelks were waiting for me on the beach.

Kiener Whelk

Kiener Whelks

Kiener Whelk

Kiener Whelk

I love these whelks.  I love how heavy and structured their spines are.  Initially, and I suppose all my life up until now, I thought they were all Knobbed Whelks.  But after some research, I have come to the conclusion that these are in fact Kiener Whelks.  But, very similar to the Knobbed Whelk.  I have been going through all my whelks trying to figure out the difference since, and it's not easy.  I searched Google trying to find a definitive difference between the two, and all I could find was that the lower part of the body whorl is thicker on the Kiener Whelk than on the Knobbed Whelk.  Well, most of my whelks body whorls are a little chipped there, so not the best indicator.  As I studied my whelk collection, it became obvious that across the board, the Kiener Whelk is a much heavier shell, and the spines are thick and highly structured.  The spines on the Knobbed Whelk are smaller and more worn.  Even though it may not be easy to figure out if your whelk is a Kiener or a Knobbed, it sure is fun to try.

With that said, I thought I would post a handful of pictures of the different types of whelks I have on hand, so you may also get to know the differences.

The biggest difference in all the whelks occurs with the Lightning  Whelk.  Lightning Whelks are the only whelk whose aperture is on the left.  How cool is that?!

Lightning Whelk

Knobbed Whelk
Kiener Whelk

Channeled Whelk

Pear Whelk
That was enough schooling for me today.  Happy hunting out there, and stay warm!


Monday, January 27, 2014

I left my phone in Captiva

I left my heart phone in Captiva.  I'm getting married in March, and for my bachelorette I chose to go to Captiva Island in Florida.  I have always wanted to go to Sanibel and Captiva (Sanibel is the island just south of Captiva) for the shelling.  It did not disappoint.  What did disappoint - my phone was stolen the second night there.  Unfortunately, that meant I wasn't able to photograph the majority of my shells as I found them, which is one of my favorite things to do.  So, I instead set up a photo shoot of my Captiva finds by filling a Pyrex dish with sand, and shooting them in my kitchen.
Ravenel Scallops, and one of my favorite shells to find in Florida.

Sea Urchin - looks similar to those I find in NC and SC, but the spines are shorter.


Murex, Turban, and Scallop; there are loads of scallops in Florida. Scotch Bonnet's should be happy since they feed on them.


My cousins lovely Tulip find.

Paper Fig, and slightly broken, but I brought him home regardless.


Florida Fighting Conchs

Florida Fighting Conch (I did manage to get a few location photos before the phone was stolen).

Day 1, five minutes of shelling, and found all these gems.


Captiva Sand Dollar

Calico Clams


Gorgeous Lightning Whelks

I can't wait to go back.  Maybe by myself, so I can shell the entire time.  I think I'll want to explore Sanibel more also.  Here is one final picture of me shelling Blind Pass Sanibel.  You have never seen so many shells.

Cheers and Happy Shelling!

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