I remember the first time I became aware of the importance of eelgrass. I had seen the stuff growing on beaches, but usually it was only a few strands poking out of the sand, nothing abundant or appearing fertile, and I certainly didn't know what to call it.
While in Haida Gwaii a few years ago, we were on a sailboat, approaching a village which had been named after the eelgrass that grows in abundance there: T’aanuu Llnagaay. Haida ancestors knew the importance of eelgrass and named a village after it--this thought kept moving around in my head, thinking about the implications of giving a place a name. Why was eelgrass important? I studied up.
Eelgrass is home to young and old creatures of the sea, providing food and shelter. As the ocean’s nursery, eel grass anchors eggs of many species, keeping them moist and creating shade at low tide for small fry to hide from predators. Eelgrass prevents erosion, and even filters polluted runoff. I became inspired to make a necklace honoring the eelgrass as a universal nurturer.
I began with a very crude sketch of an idea...I decided to use silver and gold layers to give texture to the frame of my piece. I wanted it to have surprises and detail that would speak to a walk on a beach, discovery, and the many ways eelgrass connects land to sea.
Walking my favorite beach here in Bellingham, I smile to see large swaths of eelgrass now. The grass is a nursery ground for many species, it is susceptible to damage from human activity, it is food and shelter. Sadly, the day I started work on "Nurture", I read an article on the seizure of more than 12 million dead seahorses from a boat off the coast of Peru. I was more determined than ever that the main figure for this piece would be a seahorse.
I found side-drilled aquamarine cylinders ranging in color from yellow and green to blue. They speak of water and seagrass, and I love the shapes they create when strung together. I used peridot and citrine gems for the "bubbles" and inlaid micro-mosaics in each of the double-sided components.
Nurture features imagery of sea stars, a crab, sea snail, flounder, seahorses, and of course, eelgrass.
The suite consists of a necklace, earrings, and a bracelet/necklace extender.