My Materials and Process
All of my sea glass mosaics are one of a kind, handmade by me in San Clemente, CA
Each sea glass mosaic I create has a story to tell. All of the sea glass I use in my mosaics is tumbled only by the surf, the shells are all found on beaches up and down the Pacific coast of the Americas and the wood I use is entirely re-purposed.
Some people call it sea glass, others call it beach glass, and a few even call it mermaid tears. Any way you say it, I only use the kind that I've found in the sand - glass that has been tumbling in the surf for years. I've been collecting my sea glass since I first learned about it back in college - over 16 years now! I will never use any machines to tumble any of my glass.
I'm fortunate to be able to travel often to pursue my passions. My trips have taken me to places up and down the West Coast, from Costa Rica to Washington, and out to the tropical Pacific too. My shells come from all of these journeys.
Use what you have, and keep it simple. Some of my most beautiful wood came to me looking rough and battered. I use old cedar fencing, decking, pallets and construction site leftovers - anything that was destined for the landfill. With some grinding and cleaning, I've given new life to these pieces of weathered wood.
I want to make sure that all of my sea glass mosaics will last. That's why I coat the front of all of my mosaics to seal and protect them. This gives the sea glass a shiny finish, like it's been just picked from the edge of the ocean. Each piece of wood soaks up the seal differently, so many pieces will have a uniformly shiny finish in the background while others may have a more rustic, patchy finish.
I know many people will hang them in their bathrooms or on their front porch - mine is on my front door - so I've come up with this seal to ensure the sea glass will never fall off even in damp conditions. That being said, if you choose to keep your piece outside, I recommend it stay under the cover of a roofline or awning to help protect it from harsh sun and pouring rain.
Once I've prepped the wood, I hand paint the piece, then mosaic over the painting using mainly clear sea glass, and in some cases green sea glass and brown sea glass as well. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle - I sift through my vast collection of beach glass to pick out just the right shard to build the final picture.