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What Does the Ocean Mean to You?

Beth Shady, Founder of SeaweedArt with Dr. Sylvia Earle

This past week I had the good fortune to attend a lecture by legendary author, explorer and oceanographer, Dr. Sylvia Earle, who spoke on the topic, “Oceans, Life, and Survival,” as part of the sixth Fred Keeley Lecture on Environmental Policy.

Dr. Earle has earned a stellar reputation in the world of  ocean discovery and conservation and to say I was in awe of her would be an understatment. Here are just a few of her honors: Named the first “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine. National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998.Chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1990 to 1992 and has led more than 100 research expeditions involving more than 7,000 hours underwater. The New Yorker and New York Times have dubbed her “Her Deepness;” the Library of Congress calls her a “Living Legend.”

After the lecture I got to meet her, but with the throngs of people waiting to speak to her, we did not get much time to talk. The following evening my husband Bill and I attended a private reception at Fred Keeley’s house. It was a benefit for and celebration of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation that is opening an Exploration Center in Santa Cruz this summer. I was invited because I partner with them and donate 10% of my profits to their fundraising campaign. In addition, and this was a real thrill for me, my SeaweedArt cards were used for the invitations.

Fred’s house was packed to the gills (sorry, pun intended) of some pretty influential and high powered ocean advocates– a former state senator, famed photographer, Frans Lanting, the director of the California Coastal Commission, the board members of all the sanctuaries, and of course, Sylvia Earle. I thought to myself later that I should have been intimidated, but I wasn’t. Why? Because as Fred so eloquently stated in his opening remarks, “It doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian or vegetarian, we all care for and are passionate about the ocean.” What really struck me was how everyone present had their own personal ocean story.

Later, when I spoke to Sylvia I told her how much I had enjoyed her talk the night before and what had resonated with me the most was her  reminiscing of  her childhood growing up in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. That got me thinking about my own childhood with summers spent at the Jersey shore digging for clams and building sand castles with my brother and sisters. This is something we can all relate to.

Sylvia stated that there are a lot of things about the ocean that we still do not know, therefore we must continue to discover and explore. This is true, however, I think the starting point for galvanizing support for ocean clean up and preservation is to build on what we already know… summers in the sand, boogie boarding, hanging 10 and catching waves.

What is your ocean story?  The first five people to comment here will receive a free set of SeaweedArt greeting cards.

 

SeaweedArt Prints Coming Soon

Since I have received so many requests for prints, I will be adding them to my line in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for updates or sign up for my mailing list and I will let you know when they go on sale. Here is a preview of some designs. Also, original SeaweedArt pressings are available as rewards for investors who make a pledge in my Kickstarter Campaign.

'image of pressed seaweed green"

 

"images of pressed seaweed in pink"

Seaweed Art Reading List

SeaweedArt is Suitable for Framing

The SeaweedArt greeting cards that appear on my Home page are suitable for framing and would make wonderful unique gifts for all of the ocean nature lovers on your holiday gift list. The finished size of each card is 5 x 7, and sets of two, three or four would make excellent wall groupings.

I know there are many types of frames available online and in stores, including glass and metal, but I personally prefer Wood frames for my pressed seaweed collages. I feel that they best complement the natural feel of the art work and I especially like to choose colors that enhance and bring out the vivid colors of the seaweed. Pale pinks, maroon, tarragon green and warm browns are all excellent choices.

The next step is to choose a coordinating mat color, one that will work as an accent. This a highly subjective decision because there are so many choices; whether to pick a mat that is the same color as the frame, for a monochromatic effect, or an opposite color that is more of a contrast. It is no surprise that I find the act of framing my work almost as creative as the process of creating it.

There are many resources online where you can read more about choosing the right frame and mat.

Help Give a Child the Unforgettable Gift of Camp

The Fresh Air Fund is still in need of  host families for this summer. If you could help get the word out it would really help us place these wonderful children into a loving host family for up to two weeks of a fresh air experience they will never forget. If you would like to host a child in your home this summer that allows him or her to have an unforgettable experience you can sign up to host a child or donate to the Fresh Air Fund. To learn more about what you can do to help the Fresh Air Fund click here. Spread the word.

South Beach Harbor, San Francisco

My husband Bill and I spent the 4th of July weekend on our friend’s boat in South Beach Harbor. While he worked on the boat, I lounged on the deck reading books. It was a much needed respite for both of us. Excellent sailing weather too. Here is one of my favorite photos taken at dusk, just when the sky is starting to turn pink.

"image of sailboats in South Beach Harbor, San Francisco"

Surfboard Art

I’m not a  lager drinker, but I am a big fan of creative advertising. This photo was taken on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz just a few weeks ago.

"image of Longboard graphic on surfboards"

 

About SeaweedArt

Beth collecting seaweed

My name is Beth Powanda Shady. I am a nature lover and artist who’s lucky enough to live in Santa Cruz, one of the world’s most beautiful places. Ever since I was a child, I have been creating arts and crafts from objects found in nature– flowers, foliage, leaves, herbs, sticks, driftwood, seashells and seaweed.

collage of seaweed pressed on paper

I live  with my seafaring, surfer husband Bill and our five kids.

Bill holding surfboard

Our quaint, beach community is celebrated for its temperate climate, pristine beaches,

stretch of Santa Cruz beach known as Pleasure Point

rocky shores  and surfing.

I created this blog a few years ago to write about the joy and pleasure I experience living by the beach.  I moved here from the East coast 23 years ago and I am still in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds me. I want to share my love of the sea and coastal living with you.

All of the seaweed used in my SeaweedArt cards has been sustainably harvested from the Monterey Bay in accordance with the regulations for seaweed harvesting along the West Coast of North America.

Press

See it in the sea, buy it on a card — Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 4, 2012.

Featured ocean advocate in SeaWeb’s Ocean Voices.

Our Mission

"sea turtle"

SeaweedArt is committed to raising awareness and funds for the protection and preservation of our beautiful oceans, beaches, coastlines and marine habitats. For every item purchases, 10% of the profits will be donated to charities and non-profit organizations dedicated to our cause.

The Process

"seastar at Pleasure Point tidepool"

The art of pressing seaweed dates back to the Victorian Era when aristocratic ladies made seaweed pressings as a hobby to collect specimens and decorate their homes. The process may seem daunting and time consuming, but I can assure you it is quite satisfying, peaceful and relaxing and you will be amazed at the beautiful works of nature art you will create.

How to Press Seaweed

Materials Needed:

  • Seaweed
  • A container for collecting, Tupperware with lid is best
  • Tap water
  • 100% cotton rag paper (available are art supply stores) Cut into standard frame sizes like 5 x 7 or 8 x 10
  • Colander
  • Two small dishwasher tubs. large pots work well too
  • Tweezers
  • Cheesecloth
  • Paper towels
  • Blotting paper (available at art supply stores)
  • Heavy books for weights
  • Fan

Step 1. Collect the seaweed. Rocky shores at low tide are the best spot. Look for seaweed in different colors, shapes and textures. Put the seaweed in a container filled with a bit of clean seawater. You should add enough water to cover the specimens and keep them moist.

Step 2. Take your seaweed home and put it in a colander and rinse thoroughly with tap water. Place in a dishwasher tub with tap water. This will be your sorting tank.

Step 3. Fill the second dishwasher tub half way with water. Place the paper in the water so it is submerged. Choose seaweed from your sorting tank and place on top of the paper. It should float slightly above it. Think about the result you want. The variety of seaweed’s shapes, colors and textures naturally lend themselves to beautiful abstract designs. Put your hands under the paper and remove quickly from the water. The fast movement should capture the fluid motion of the seaweed. Adjust with tweezers or your fingers if necessary. Tilt the paper from side to side to drain excess water and blot gently with paper towels.

Step 4. Place your design on a stack of blotting paper. Cover with cheese cloth and more blotting paper. The paper will absorb the excess moisture. The wax paper prevents sticking to the packing paper. Stack heavy books or weights on top. Set a fan in front of it on a low setting. Every other day change the packing paper until your paper is completely dry. This can take up to two to three weeks.

Step 5. Once your masterpiece is completely dry you can frame it. Seaweed has a natural glue in it that causes it to stick to paper. If there are some loose pieces you can glue them down or laminate your piece. Keep out of direct sunlight and the color should last a long time.

Endangered Species Day

"image of a whale shark"May 20th is Endangered Species Day. This is a day to raise awareness about the every day actions we all can take to protect our disappearing wildlife. To learn what you can do to help, check out this list of the top 10 things you can do at home to protect endangered species.

Tidepool Assortment