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Using What You Find: Beachcombing Art!

Posted by Jody on March 12, 2014

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Beachcombing Artist Richard Blacklaw-Jones.

About the Author/Artist: Richard is an international beachcombing artist!  He uses what he finds on the beach to make pictures or useful and decorative items. He lives in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and therefore has the great good fortune to be surrounded by beaches that face the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream. Due to this happy circumstance, he can always find materials for his work. He prefers to use man-made materials, and he says, “even if my work doesn’t sell I can comfort myself with the fact that the beach is a little cleaner following my efforts.” He has pursued this calling for 15 years and has exhibited his works in Wales, England, and France.

"My favourite Pembrokeshire beach" Photo taken 3/11/2014

My Favorite Pembrokeshire Beach

We are looking West, out over the Milford Haven from the North side of the Haven. That’s the town of Milford Haven in the distance, and it’s suburbia in the top right of photo. It doesn’t really have a name, this beach, but it is endlessly fascinating because of its industrial history (it was a boat breaking yard amongst other things) as well as for what washes up. It’s at about half tide in the photo, and you can see the “beach” consists mostly of the remains of some factories which were basically demolished and bulldozed onto the beach in the 1960’s. Even better, in the lower right foreground, you can see two timbers sticking out of the back wall of the beach. These timbers used to support a wooden sea facing wall whose maintenance ceased when the factories went and has consequently rotted away, thus allowing the made up ground behind it to erode onto the beach. This gives a constant supply of mixed domestic and industrial refuse from the late Victorian era to the waves and for me to find and use.

~ Using What You Find ~

I belong to a group of artists who annually organise a large group exhibition at St David’s Cathedral with (at the same time) smaller exhibitions at a number of picturesque, small churches, all of the above in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The exhibitions run under the name Art on the Faith Trail, and our logo is the footprint (referencing the ancient practice of pilgrimage to St David’s Cathedral) which brings me to the picture below.

This is a very big chunk of black plastic, about 4 feet on each side and almost 2 inches thick. The big bolts threaded through it imply it was fixed to something and maybe acted as a hatch cover? It had been in the sea long enough to have some quite large barnacles growing in the bolt holes. This piece washed up at a beach near Milford Haven.

I’ve been looking for something of this sort for quite a while as I need to make some signs for use outside the exhibition venues. I decided to cut two foot-shapes from this.

Using What You Find

Using What You Find

Having cut one of the feet (with a jig-saw), here it is laid on the other half of the slab so that I may trace around it so that I will have a pattern to follow with the jig saw.

Next the jig-saw

Ready for the Jig Saw

Here are the two feet completely cut out. This took most of a day to do as the jig saw blade would get hot when cutting the tighter curves around the toes or heels and would then start to bind in its cut. The only answer was to let the blade cool for some time and only cut short lengths. Such repeated heating and cooling is probably responsible for one jig saw blade breaking and thus adding to the job’s duration when I had to take time to replace it.

The idea is to have one foot standing upright outside a venue so that passers by will see it and come inside. A plastic foot nearly 4 ft tall should attract attention, and I’m going to cut some multiple-coloured plastic letters and attach them to each foot, if possible to spell out “Art on The Faith Trail. ” I say if possible because the width of each foot will determine the size of the letters.

Both Feet

Both Feet

Here’s how I worked the words into the space offered. Now to cut them out.

Template

Template

I then turn to the bucket of scraps and start sorting out what colours I’ve got.

Bucket of Scraps

Beachcombed Scraps

The first two words. I can see it will look very nice and I'm encouraged to press on.

The first three words. “I can see it will look very nice and I’m encouraged to press on.”

Fourth word, third line. Still good.

“Fourth word, third line. Still good.”

All set up, and doesn’t it look fine! I’m very happy with this and feel sure it will catch the attention of passers by. I hope it will prompt curiosity in the viewer to “see what the show is like, as the sign’s pretty good.”

A good evening's work.

“A good evening’s work.”

Completed Signs

Beachcombing Art !

Richard’s online gallery is a veritable feast for the beachcomber’s eyes !

You’ll want to check out more of his imaginative and diverse artwork, beachcombing blog, course offerings, and fun “stuff” at Beachcombing Art!

~~~

A note from our treasure hunters:

We simply love to share when it comes to beaches, treasure hunting, beachcombing crafts, and beachy tips. How about you? Do you have a favorite beach you’d like to share with us? Maybe you have some great tips for beach picnics, seaside safety, or seashore activities. Please check out our Submission Guidelines for info on jumping into the fun at Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches. It would be wonderful if you would join us as our next Featured Guest Writer!

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12 Responses to “Using What You Find: Beachcombing Art!”

  1. Wow! Very creative and much more skilled than I could ever do.

  2. Jody said

    Richard, I’m so glad you found our little blog. I’m inspired by your beautiful artwork and beachcombing efforts! Many thanks for joining us. It’s been great fun!

  3. Greg said

    WOW! A true Artist. To be able to create beauty from scrap is a wonderful gift. You have a great eye. Thank you for sharing!

  4. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. Ruth said

    This looks really interesting and I’m so pleased its in Wales so I can plan a trip. I used to go to St Davids on childhood holidays so I’m due a return.

    • Jody said

      Wonderful! I’m so impressed with Richard’s creativity. I’d love to own a piece of his beachcombing art! & The Wales Coast Path is on my bucket list.

  6. E.G.D. said

    What a fun sign! Let me tell you, that would totally inspire me to pop into the church to see what there was to see. What a spectacular way to use beach-combing finds!

  7. love this & gorgeous beach!

  8. Inspirational stuff! Thanks for passing that link on, Jody!

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