FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2005 ART BEAT
"Under the Oaks" features authentic beach glass
by Mary Ellen Riddle
Pizza boxes are stacked beside Linda Jereb's work table in her Nags Head studio. But trim Jereb hasn't been snacking on pizza while burning the midnight oil. She has turned the clean boxes inside out to hold hundreds of pieces of beach glass. She has myriad colors, including mounds of cobalt blue, red, green and white. Even within those colors are many shades. "You wouldn't believe how many different kinds of white there are," said Jereb, 43.
The self taught artist selects from her glass stash various colors and shapes to make silver and gold-filled wire-wrapped pendants, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Her signature "squiggle" wrap design is inspired by wind- and sea-blown sand. Her compositions also are influenced by the Art Deco movement and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Lately, she's been working the intense process of drilling sea glass, which allows alternatives to wire wrapping.
Jereb uses authentic beach glass complete with pores, pitting and the telltale "c" shapes that can be seen under a microscope. "Water breaks down the glass," she said. "You can't imitate that." She knows that beach glass imitations do exist and are marketed as the real thing. "If you see red glass earrings being sold for as little as $25, they aren't real beach glass",she said.
But the artist is not a snob when it comes to using anything other than her beloved beach glass. The phrase "Genuine Sea Glass" is used to differentiate between her natural sea glass creations and her trademarked Fanta Sea Glass label, jewelry made by tumbling rough or large beach glass pieces or antique glass from bottles or jars. Any piece that is altered receives the Fanta Sea Glass label. The latter line allows her to use rare colors at an affordable price.
Check out her Web site at www.bytheseajewelry.com and notice the varying prices depending, in part, on_ rarity. Jereb coined the term "Genuine Sea Glass" before it became used in the industry. She knows that people can be particular about having the real thing, hence her careful marketing of her lines under separate names.
"Beach glass is such an obsessive thing," Jereb said. She revels in the hunt for the sea-worn beauties. She mourns the diminishing finds on the beach, which she attributes to recycling, plastics, beach re-nourishment and storms that have changed pebble beds and sloughs. She has been highlighted on national television, doing a demonstration and an interview with Asha Blake about beach glass on the "Later Today Show" filmed at Rockefeller Center .
She said she has enough of the real stuff in her studio to last a lifetime. Beach glass is not just confined to pizza boxes and the many plastic tubs and drawers in Jereb's studio. Glance about her home to find pieces nestled here and there, including a prized handful of red beach glass found locally and stored in a tiny handmade box that sits in her living room. She shakes out the contents and smiles at the rich colors and many shapes.
It can be a challenge to find shapes and sizes that work well together especially with earrings. Yet her work appears clean and flowing, wavering back and forth between gently organic and mildly classical. It has a distinguished grace that is not heavy handed, allowing the beach glass to have its day in the sun.
Sometimes Jereb uses charms, vintage beads and gems in her designs, such as pairing turquoise beads with a green piece of glass to form a necklace, "as long as it goes with the sea glass," she said. She's made plenty of jewelry for weddings - especially bridesmaids - and is ready to design made to-order pieces and matching sets.
Jereb's glass comes from across the globe, including the Outer Banks, Hawaii , Nova Scotia , San Francisco , Maine and Puerto Rico . She finds her own and also orders glass in bulk. She came across Puerto Rican glass marbles that are said to once be used as ballast in ships. Their round shapes make lovely pendants, enhanced by the childhood nostalgia marbles lend. Jereb's favorite glass pieces are patterned, bearing letters or writing, making it easier to trace what they once were.
-Contact Mary Ellen Riddle at email@example.com