Today’s featured merchant interview is with Christine Gable Epstein of Oceano Seaglass Jewelry. Christine’s jewelry is available at www.oceanoseaglass.1000markets.com.
Genuine sea glass started out as broken bottles and glass and is naturally recycled by the movement of the sea and sand. It has a natural frosted beauty of its own. Christine, who lives in Puerto Rico, uses those beautiful sea gems to create lovely one-of-a-kind, handcrafted jewelry.
I asked Christine how she found inspiration for her jewelry.
“When my sisters and I were little, our grandmother used to make clothes for our dolls. Together we would comb through fabric scraps, lace, rick-rack and odd buttons, out of which would come marvelous little dresses. The magic of “from nothing into something” really made an impression on me, and instilled a life-long lust for art supplies! Is there a better day than when your supply order comes? That little carton, so full of possibilities! Here in Puerto Rico, I get to hunt and gather seaglass. I love every part of the process: the excitement of finding a perfect piece, washing the salt and sand away, laying it in the sun to dry, sorting the shapes, and matching the colors. This handling of the seaglass IS the design process for me, when each found piece presents its gemlike qualities and I develop ideas about the type of finished piece it will become.
I live 500 yards from the ocean, and every free minute is spent there—in the water, watching my daughter surf, beach combing and walking our dogs. I also tend a little organic veggie patch with tomatoes, squash, herbs, and sugar cane. And since I’m not a native speaker, I’m always working to improve my Spanish-language skills.”
When you stop by her shop, you’ll see what a fabulous photographer she is, which makes her shop all the more attractive. Christine shares some photography advice for other merchants.
“Photographing seaglass is a bit of a puzzle. Capturing that magical translucence, but not washing out the delicate coloration and subtle texture is very important. Having been a stylist in New York, I really love shooting the photos, almost as much as making the jewelry! My advice to anyone who sells online is to take loads and loads of photos so you are assured of a few great shots—that’s what the pros do. A fabulous picture is really the most powerful selling tool we all have.”
Being a part of the Reclaimed to Fame Market, Christine is a strong believer in recycling, as are her neighbors in Puerto Rico.
“We live off the beaten path in a small fishing village. In our neighborhood, nothing goes to waste. If you prop up anything marginally useful next to your garbage can at 6am, it will always be gone by 9am. Very little gets ‘trashed’.
A lot of things in our daily life get reused for other purposes. All of our newspaper is shredded for mulch or laid down thickly as a weed blocker in the garden. Any plastic container not used for collecting my beach-finds is cut to make protective collars for vegetable seedlings. I really admire the recycling I see all around us here. It’s borne from a spirit of resourcefulness and inventive reuse.”
All artists have a creative process and here is Christine’s.
“It seems natural that I would wind up designing and making jewelry. I’ve always been interested in fashion, and my art school training serves me well in terms of working with color and design. Coming from a family of seamstresses also means that I have a love of anything tactile and a yen to do something useful with my hands. These things all contribute to the way that I think about and handle my materials.
Part of my process is built around awareness for the safeguarding of the environment. Oceano jewelry is handmade from recycled material because I want to unite my need to create with my views and beliefs. While I’m creating jewelry, I also keep in mind the notion that I am making tiny pieces of kinetic sculpture that interact with and respond to the wearer.
Adornment has been around since the beginning of human existence and it’s a reflection of the customs and societies in which it is worn. Choosing to wear something artisan-made and ecologically responsible helps you look good and feel good. And don’t we all need a dash of sparkle now and again?”