|One of my latest felted jewelry collections, "Coral Reef" |
with real coral, starfish, and conch shell as props
Jill Newman © 2017
But something changed two years ago. As a felting artist with a love for shells, I made some attempts to incorporate my "perfect" shells into felted wool jewelry. (I will add photos of these efforts at the end of the post.) I experienced some disappointing failed experiments. Then I had an epiphany. It occurred to me that if the shells had holes, it would be easier to incorporate into my felting, as I could loop wool through the holes to create strong connections. I briefly thought about trying to drill holes into my shells, and then I remembered all those imperfect shells I had discarded over the years.
|Me showing my husband my haul of broken shells :-)|
I had some transcendent moments there on that beach. It felt truly enlightening and uplifting to suddenly see the beauty and usefulness of things that I had previously viewed as "broken." In how many other areas of my life have I dismissed or overlooked the value and beauty in things that were damaged or not whole? Actually, I often save broken things in the hopes of making them into something new. Honestly, I had considered this a bit of a "hoarder" tendency, but now I see this as a virtue. It can be very rewarding to give old things new life. And it is a good attitude to have about life in general.
|My array of gorgeous and useful shells with holes|
Ok, so enough deep thoughts: here are the photos of my initial failed attempts to incorporate shells into my work and then my successes with the shells with holes.
These initial attempts failed for a few reasons. For one thing, the sand dollar did not survive the wet felting process. I crushed a few before giving up. Second, and more importantly, although I could enclose the seashells in the felt, once I cut open a window to view the shells, they just fell out. No matter how small I cut the openings, the shells were not secured and found a way to escape. By the way, after crushing all those sand dollars, I felted some wool ones that were far more durable.
Once I had those shells with holes, the process of incorporating the shells into my work was much more satisfying and successful. Hopefully, you can see that I was able to form strong connections and points of attachment by threading the wool through the holes. I was especially happy with the earrings and the clasp on the necklace. I look forward to finding more holey shells this summer and exploring more creative ways to give them new life.
|Felted "Caribbean" collection -- necklace, earrings, and sand dollar brooch. Jill Newman © 2015.|