Saturday, September 20, 2014

What happened to all the sea glass?

When we go to Maine in the summer, one of my favorite things to do has always been to explore tidepools for treasures.  Years ago I took an 'oceanology for teachers' class on the Atlantic coast, and we spent some time exploring some rocky tidepools.  We sat in the same place for quite some time recording everything we saw, and as time passed, we began to discover all sorts of tiny critters that we didn't notice on first glance.  I've been fascinated with tide pools ever since.
A quickie disclaimer: I usually post to the blog from a laptop or PC, but tonight I'm using the iPad app, which I do not particularly care for.  Hence, the quality of these photos is, I believe, greatly diminished.  And I can't seem to move them around, or control their size.  Sorry!  Hopefully it is 'good enough' for this post.
On our trips to Maine, there are several particularly rocky tide pool locations where I used to find lots of sea glass.  I'd bring it home and put it in pretty glass containers.  But in the last few years, I have been lucky to even find one piece of sea glass.  But, oh, there are jewelry stores on the coast that sell beautiful delicate jewelry made from sea glass.  Where do they find it all? Have they cleaned all the sea glass out the ocean somehow?  
On a visit to a rocky beach at low tide this year, I was poking through tide pools when I began to notice bits of bright color.  So I started to collect, and I came home with a crazy assortment of treasures, definitely not sea glass! 
Yes, there's a Lego in there, and part of a whistle, and a broken bobber.  And the all those colorful rubber bands- we believe they are the kind that are put on lobster claws.  Perhaps a lobsterman dropped them overboard by mistake? 

And a kazoo, and the little yellow horse.

And this peculiar Pac-Man shaped slice of wood.  
So, I brought all this stuff home, gave it a good cleaning, and now am going to incorporate it all in some sort of mixed media work of art, though I have no idea quite what, yet.  Feel free to make suggestions!
Meanwhile, has anyone else read the book Moby Duck? (No, not Moby Dick, which is probably my least favorite book that I read, ever!). It's Full title: 'Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, who Went in Search of Them'.  
Or how about '10 Little Rubber Ducks' by Eric Carle?  The book is based on this same true story of a shipment of rubber bathtub toys that fell overboard from a container ship.  The fact is, there's some real crazy stuff out there in the ocean.  Though I haven't found a rubber duck, I do think my little horse is kind of adorable.

And for something really goofy, there's a whole Facebook page related to the shipload of Legos that were washed into the sea by a wave (about 5 million pieces of Lego!) in 1997!  Perhaps my Lego is one of those pieces?  
If you are intrigued, you can find it here:

What's the craziest thing you've ever found on the beach?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Getting the Write-Start!

  Have you ever heard of these?  Several years back, I was filling out my annual order for supplies for my elementary art room and saw these in the catalog.  I ordered 1/2 dozen boxes to try them out, thinking they'd be great for my younger students.  What I didn't expect was that they would instantly become everyone's favorite colored pencil!
They are made by Crayola, and are called Crayola Write-Start Colored Pencils.  They are officially 'intended' for younger kids, but my older kids fought to use them, and frankly I like using them too.   I'm missing a few in my set - the set has 8 pencils.  I have black, green, yellow, red, and purple, but the set also includes orange, blue, and brown.
The leads are soft, the colors are rich, and the points never seem to break.  The kids could really bear down on the point to get rich color, and they were easy to hang on to.  The are thick and easy to grip (which helps with my old lady hands), and hexagonal so they don't roll off the table.  And the graphics on the pencils are cute, too!  My only regret is that they only come in these basic 8 colors.  You can still buy them, but it's rare to find them in catalogs so you really have to hunt them down.  If you follow the link above, you'll find them at a great price at if you are already spending $35 and qualify for free shipping.  (It doesn't mention Amazon Prime). 

Once, at a conference, I got samples of these Ticonderoga 'Core-Lock' colored pencils ([photo below) from a vendor.  Their quality is amazing - I personally think they rival Prismacolor in quality and richness of color.  Unfortunately, I have just three colors and I don't think they are made any more.  Why does the good stuff so often disappear? 
I mean, do you remember the Sanford Colorific (or Foohy) Gel Markers?  (Same thing, with a name change.)  They were spectacular!  Or the gel colored pencils? Why is it that when you get really attached to something, it disappears from the market?  What would we all do if black Sharpies were no longer available??

Do you have a favorite 'unsung' art material that you think others should know about?   Or a favorite material that is simply no longer available?