I surround myself with seashells. I have shells and beach bling in every room of my house, my yard, my car, my pockets and even my dreams. So now I wear one around my neck as well. For my birthday this year, Clark bought me the sweetest little ALPHABET CONE necklace from our talented friend Wendy Miller.
It truly feels like a simple walk on the beach with the juvie cone shell, a small piece of driftwood wrapped with my fave color turquoise (amazonite) and a leather cord.
Since I’ve had sooooo many compliments and questions about my necklace, I thought I’d introduce you to the artist… Meet local jewelry artist Wendy Miller!
Clark and I had such a great time shelling with her last week at Blind Pass because she gets excited about finding the same types of shells we like. For most shellers, finding a FLAT SCALLOP is an amazing find but she also loves to find the cutie little KITTENS PAWS, colorful CARDITAS (she uses as clasps), orange SCALLOPS and she is especially crazy about finding the perfect piece of driftwood.
Each piece she makes reflects her love for beach combing. Like you and me, she not only receives shells as gifts from the sea, she told me she receives inspiration from the sea every time she walks the beach. Isn’t that why we all love shelling so much?
Like each beach day and every shell, each piece of jewelry has such a unique look and organic feel. Love that!
Shelling is beach therapy. I love a long walk along the water’s edge searching for wildlife and picking up a few beautiful shells.
Yesterday at Sanibel’s Bowmans Beach, the crowds disappeared as we walked passed the families set up for their beach day with umbrellas, coolers and beach chairs. The further we walked, the quieter my mind became. Everything else on the planet slipped away other than seeing a big wide open beach with shells, sand, water and sky.
Then the trance began. It’s like I’m being hypnotized each time I’m at the beach when I hear the waves wash up on the sand with jingle of shells rolling back and forth.
When I walk along the shell line from a recent higher tide I’m searching for shapes, textures and colors of the shells I know so well. Aha! A SHARK’S EYE hidden among the ARKS, KITTENS PAWS and VENUS CLAMS.
There are days when the shells are piled high or washing up at your feet in droves but long walks like Clark and I took yesterday are my absolute favorite. It’s what keeps me going back time and time again. It’s my beach therapy.
Amazingly enough when we got back, I got a little surprise in my email inbox. I’m in a short little film about shelling! I was asked in an interview back in February about what I love about shelling. Well…. everything actually! But then it all boiled down to how it makes me feel- I’m just so dang happy when I’m on the beach and shelling takes my mind to another galaxy. It makes me appreciate how beautiful this life is. It’s just that simple. The Beaches Of Fort Myers and Sanibel did an A-MAZING job on this film and I am over the moon shell, humbled and honored that I was asked to participate in it.
I hope you enjoy!
PS- Oh and yes- That’s Elliot Sudal (Shelliot- heehee ) in the film too. See? I told you he isn’t just a fisherman, he’s a sheller! CLICK HERE to read my post about him.
The shell world is a fascinating adventure to learn about the lives of MOLLUSKS and the people who collect their shells on the beaches across the planet. Because I am one of those people obsessed with living my life in the world of shells, I love to hang out with people who love to share their knowledge about them too. The Sanibel Shell Festival is a great place to do that.
I’m thrilled Sunnye (TX) shared her colorful shell collection she found beachcombing in Eleuthera, Bahamas (top photo).
Her sister Lisa (TX)had some awesome displays too for which they both won awards.
Lisa EXHIBITED this gorgeous SMOOTH TELLIN…
But I looooved this cool display Lisa did showing the difference between the SHARKS EYE and the FALSE SHARKS EYE. It explains and shows the difference in detail (for more info check out my post Sanibel Shark Week… Featuring The Shark Eye Shell).
And then there’s Stef! I’m so happy for her- she won a blue ribbon for her double FLAT SCALLOP she found by Sanibel’s Island Inn.
Wait… did you miss what I said? Okay, lemme slow down… she found both sides of her FLAT ZIGZAG SCALLOP still hinged together. Exactly like she displayed it… on Sanibel… and with amazing color. Wow! Years ago, I was thrilled when Clark found just the other half of a FLAT (the right valve) since it’s rare to find them here (CLICK HERE to see what the other side looks like) … and she found both perfect valves still together. Shellzam! Congrats Stefanie!
There were lots of displays showing ALBINO shells this year but this one by Ken and Joyce Matthys was really very cool. Here they shows tons of ALBINO FLORIDA PRICKLY COCKLES they’ve found through the years…
In the next case they show FLORIDA PRICKLY COCKLES which are ALBINISTIC. They explain… “Some shells lack their normal color, but they are not pure white. Instead they may be pale yellow, cream-colored, or have other hints of color. These are referred to as being albinistic”. Hmmm Haven’t you seen some like this? I have and now we’ve learned a name for this color form… ALBINISTIC.
Anne Joffe’s seashell emergency room display was hilarious and voted best for People’s Choice award. Freak and damaged shells that repaired themselves to form in odd shapes were propped in mini doctor’s offices, emergency rooms and surgery rooms with bandages, crutches and doctors notes.
Check out this PALLID CARRIER SHELL with an attached GLASS SPONGE (from the Philippines) by exhibitor Robert Linn. Wildly beautiful.
Last week I posted about the artistic side of the show with SAILORS VALENTINES, shell frames and all sorts of shell artand craft but when you look at some of these shells like these ATLANTIC TRITONS exhibited by Holly Nordyke, you realize you are looking at the most perfect work of art ever made. Stunning.
Hope to see you next year at the 80th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival!
There are days on Sanibel when hundreds of COCKLE shells… or DOSINIA shells… or PEN SHELLS wash up on the beach. Well, this past week (and lots of random weeks this year) there were hundreds- if not thousands- of SAND DOLLARS washing up on the beach.
Lots of them were still living (!) but some were perfectly bare of cilia and spines which means they can no longer be alive.
Local sheller Karen knows the ones she can keep and was as dumbfounded as I was to find gazillions of them scattered all over the beach.
So many in perfect condition.
If you look closely at this next photo, you’ll see those dark spots throughout the sand- most of those were still the live ones dotting the beach at Gulfside City Beach on Sanibel Island.
It always feels like such a special day to just see one, so I was feeling like I won the SAND DOLLAR lottery.
We have a nice collection of SAND DOLLARS already so I don’t normally pick them up any more… but… I had a few events planned this week to visit with friends so Clark and I gathered a few up to give as gifts. We placed them overnight in a bleach solution then rinsed them off in the morning. CLICK HERE for a more detailed tutorial for cleaning SAND DOLLARS.
We then placed them in the sun all day to dry out. They made for wonderful party favors for my friends that evening. Gifts from the sea.
We just had some strong NE winds move in this morning so all of these sweet beach bucks might get covered back up with the wave action. We always have to remember not to take anything for granted- they’re here one day and maybe gone the next. It happens that fast!
I’m working on new dates for our iLoveShelling cruises. I hope to have dates very soon so I can see y’all when you come to SW Florida to visit! I have through January… so CLICK HERE to join us!
SEA PEARLS and BABYS EARS were some favorite gems to be found at Lighthouse Beach this week. They blend in with all the other shells and bling so I feel so rewarded when I find one. It’s like I feel lucky that I saw the beauty in them when others may have passed them by without giving them a glance. That’s why beachcombers “get” each other, right? Beachcombers know there are hundreds of treasures the sea offers …but we just have to take our time to look for them.
But I feel luckiest when we meet other beach combers on the beach like Lee and Susan (formerly of Guantanamo Bay) who turn into friends for life because they feel the same way. So much fun!
We not only found those SEA BEAN treasures at Lighthouse Beach, we combed the beach at Gulfside beach…
…Where we saw some nice SAND DOLLARS, OLIVES and a few other nice finds.
Each beach we went to, we saw completely different shells and bling. We walked along Bowman’s Beach to find a few small shell piles…
Lee caught a few SHARKS EYES rolling in the surf.
Oooooo… and look at that FLAT SCALLOP and ALPHABET CONE Clark found… perfect!
This was my fave find of the week… a brilliant, bright orange RIBED CANTHARUS. Omigosh… Eye candy.
But even if I didn’t find the RIBBED CANTHARUS, I found happiness…
We’ve been enjoying walking along the shore at Sanibel’s Bowmans Beach this summer since we’ve had our best luck finding shells no matter which direction we comb the beach. Clark had an eye for the cutie mini shells this time. As soon as he found that little DUSKY CONE (on the tips of the horsies/candy/candy corn/mac n cheese…. errrr… those juvie HORSE CONCHS) I remembered that on one of my latest shelling adventure cruises I tried to show how one can tell the difference between those and the ALPHABETS and FLORIDA CONES.
So let me try to show the difference of the shells to you too. Here is a handful of the DUSKY CONES to show you how big they are and the different colors and patterns. Also, check out that each one of them has spiral ribs along the body of the shell. If you run your thumb over the shell, it won’t be smooth, you will feel all of the the little ridges.
Here’s the difference between a random ALPHABET CONE, FLORIDA CONE and the DUSKY that I pulled from our collection of Sanibel shells to see the different patterns and the normal adult size of each.
In this view, you can really see those ribs on the DUSKY compared to the other two that are mostly smooth. Cool, huh?
So next time you find a small little cone shell, look a little closer to see which one you’ve found. Maybe it will be a DUSKY CONE like Deseray found years ago that I showed in my post Rainbow Of Miniature Shellsthat we compared to her sweet little ALPHIE.
UPDATE: Ive had a few people ask about the difference between the Duskys, Stearns and Jasper Cones. I used to call some of them Jasper Cones but I was corrected a few years ago (can’t remember who told me- MurexKen maybe?) that the Shell Museum says that Jaspers and Stearns aren’t found in our area- only Dusky Cones. So I guess Ive gotta go with with that too unless they add them to the list. Im def no scientist ;0