You're Going to Love 'Beachcomber Art'

Being an author means, you constantly question yourself. “Is this the right idea? Or should I have chosen another topic?” There’s no way to tell if you are working on something really cool…or if you picked a lemon. And your confidence suffers accordingly.

I’d had a bad, sad couple of days where my doubts got the better of me, when the Universe decided to send me a sign. A detour on the highway took me right past Debbie Brookes’ charming shop
 “Beachcomber Art,”

I walked through the front door, took one look at the kitchsy mermaid with her shell bodice, and told Debbie, “I’m in love!”

Debbie’s art is EXACTLY the sort of work that I had envisioned for my new heroine.

“I use nature’s timeless elements to create art that reaffirms beauty and individuality,” she says. Here she is next to an old screen door that she re-purposed by adding a mirror and a cross-section of seashells.

She started with decorative boxes for her friends. See the two above? Note the amazing cluster of shells on top.

And moved to a variety of home decor items, such as this chest, mirror and the candlesticks.

Along the way, her sense of whimsy played into her pieces, as with her fish. (Be sure to click on the photos so you can see them as larger images.)

Her light fixtures are simply divine, especially this one with seaglass.

Now my heroine will also do work that’s much more simple. I plan for her to share projects that anyone can tackle at home. In addition, she’ll be an avid DIY (Do It Yourself) type that loves to hunt for flea market bargains and turn them into treasures. In fact, that’s the name of my new series: The Trash to Treasure Mystery Series. It’s about a woman whose life is trashed, but who turns “lemons into lemonade” and winds up creating treasures.

I’d love to hear your feedback!

Dead Armadillo Vase Brings $120 at Auction

Yep. Read it and weep. Today I auctioned off my precious armadillo, which I turned into this gorgeous (cough, cough) vase, for $120 to benefit the Boynton Beach City Library. Needless to say, the grand unveiling (in which I pulled off blue masking tape and a green garbage bag) brought a tremor of oooohs and aaahs from a stunned crowd of Friends of the Library. Never had they seen such splendid artistry!

The winner asked me to autograph the base, and I happily did.

My sister didn’t believe I would ever part with this priceless momento, but knowing that my dead armadillo, the corpse I rescued from the side of the road and a flock of turkey buzzards, was going to a good home made it soooo much easier.

My friend Nancy took this stunning photo. I threw in the silk flowers as a small gesture of graciousness. Nancy said that each time she looked at the ‘dillo, it reminded her how important it is to eat FIBER.

After the auction, another woman approached me. “If you make another vase, I’ll give $200 to the library. I would have bid on your vase today but I left my checkbook in the car.”

Anyone know where I can find another dead armadillo?

Directions for Making a Shell Mirror

Start with a mirror, of course, but don’t do as I did. I bought a mirror in a frame with a beveled edge. That meant an uneven surface for gluing shells. Buy a flat frame. Glue on the shells. Yes, it’s that easy. Here are a few tips. (Learn from my mistakes!)

1. Sort your shells in advance. I rinse mine with tap water and set them on paper towels to dry. Then I sort them into plastic baggies with ziplock tops. Having them sorted makes it much easier to find what you need. Sort by size, type and color if possible. Sorting by size is particularly helpful!

2. Boil any coiled shells, especially whelks and spirals that might have small critters in them. I try never to take a shell with an occupant, but it can happen. If you don’t boil these ASAP, you will have a huge stinky mess. Trust me on this! You can pick out flesh with tweezers or a straight pin.

3. Include broken shells, large and small shells. Oddly enough, broken shells work very well because you can cover up the missing area, and their unusual shape makes them perfect for nestling against your big shells. Small shells are particularly desirable for snuggling into empty spots.

4. Play with location, putting down your large or most spectacular shells first BEFORE you start gluing things down. I set down an initial layer of shells and built on it.

5. Ventilate your work area. After I finished, I had a colossal headache. I didn’t realize how the fumes were building up.

6. Ignore the “Oh, crud” moment that occurs when you think, “This isn’t going to look right.” It will. I had that moment, but I kept working, even slipping bits of shells under the larger pieces.

7. Let your work dry thoroughly. Otherwise, the pieces can slide.

The glue I used was Quick Grip. I bought two tubes at Ace Hardware and used both tubes. It cleans up with acetone (nail polish remover). It dries clear. It was good and bad. Because it doesn’t completely “set” for 24 hours, I could move things around. It did get stringy, which was bad. I definitely used too much, but I decided to paint my shells with clear nail polish so the extra glue was less noticeable.

Cost: The mirror cost $10 at Walmart, the two tubes of glue came to $8, and the nail polish was about $5. So the total cost of the shell mirror was $23. Pretty nifty when you consider you can’t touch a smaller sized, similar mirror for less than $60.

Here’s another photo. This one is before I cleaned off the excess glue, but it gives you a better look at the shells.

How to Make a Book Safe and More from Angela

Angela Daniels wrote a neat post about her visit to Bouchercon. You can read it here. And that’s a picture Angela took of one of the book safes she made in her second session.

You can go directly to this LINK, and see her how to info. Isn’t this just the cutest thing?