This and That
The stuff that inspires me, everything from seaweed to patinas on old train cars. I’ll continue to add more photos to this page.
Corallina is a general term for a red algae with about 1600 species. It forms the basis for many reefs in tropical waters; the branched form seen here is generally found in colder waters. Before it was classified, it was once thought to be a genuine coral.
I’m fascinated by its “skeletal” segments of calcium carbonate. It’s a deep rose color when fresh, and then it quickly bleaches to white after it washes up on the beach. As it dries it becomes very brittle and easily crumbles with handling. With warming oceans, the health of this algae is declining (seen by the greenish color). True coral reefs are also bleaching. I wanted to depict this ominous change in my electroformed piece “Warming Trends”.
Coralline algae adheres to just about anything in thick clumps - limpets, mussels, rocks, sometimes other kelp. As it bleaches on the beach, it goes through a beautiful range of colors, losing its deep red rose within a few hours.
The Sand Collection
The collection started in 2000, when Ieft my childhood home on the beach for the last time, and I collected a bunch of sand from in front of the little house. I wanted something tangible that would be from that exact spot where I stepped off our front porch.
Later that year I noticed all the different colors of sand that made up an ocean headlands cliff face near where I live now. I collected those sands too, and found some apothecary vials. When I arrayed them it became a color project.
I collect sand from deserts, rivers, beaches, even road cuts, anything that’s from a naturally occurring source. I’m not interested in stuff that’s been hauled in for golf course sand traps or artificial white tourist beaches, or mined for construction purposes. Some “sands” are made up of coral and shell fragments, and even coralline algae fragments. Soils don’t make it into the collection, since they are largely made up of decayed organic matter.
While I love colored sands, color is irrelevant to whether a sample is collectible. Even the grays and browns are all unique, and the subtle colors play off of each other in the collection. As to grain size that qualifies as “sand”, I have everything from gritty silt to teeny pebbles. I ask, “would it still feel like sand if I walked on it?” The goal is to collect as many locations on the globe as possible. I have about 400 samples so far.
A local roofer let me dumpster dive in his stash of copper sheet that he’d torn off of old buildings here on the coast, and that were destined for recycling. These pieces of copper flashing are imbued with decades of stories: our wild storms, the salt air, chemicals they were exposed to, the nails used to attach them to a building, shingles that might have overlaid them. They are paintings in their own right.