Products, People, Places and Things Representing the Best in Coastal Living

Products, People, Places and Things Representing the Best in Coastal Living.
Welcome to our blog "Coastal Creations & Design." We hope that you'll visit us often and read about our favorite coastal destinations, beach-inspired products, inviting seaside spaces, original artists works and people living the coastal lifestyle.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Go Green and Blue: Please Pick Up the Trash!

It was a warm and sunny Wednesday morning here in Olde Towne Portsmouth, a welcome relief from the cold and rainy days just past. Alison and I decided to get up early and take the dogs (Chance and Jack) for a long morning walk down to our favorite coffee fix- Starboards Coffee Kiosk at High Street Landing. The morning temperatures hovered in the low 60’s with a slight cool breeze out of the northwest. The dogs eagerly pulled us along the familiar sidewalks along North Street down to Water Street and then the few short blocks to High Street landing and Betsy’s “Seattle’s Best” coffee and fresh baked muffins. After a short stay and visit with neighbors and other familiar faces, we headed home with the dogs to prepare for our day at Skipjack. Crossing High Street, a single plastic grocery bag blew like a floating ghost down the street directly towards the landing and the inflowing waters from the Elizabeth River. Alison quickly stepped on the bag, stopping its certain path to the river.

This is an ongoing problem. Uncontained trash dropped in the street or not placed securely into trash containers that are found on almost every downtown block ends up being washed into storm drains or blown aimlessly until it ends up in the river. Trash and other waste pitched overboard from passing boaters and commercial/military ships. Of course this is not a new topic . . . we’ve all heard it before. But it’s the constant reminders that keep us informed and aware of this ongoing problem and to assist everyone from becoming complacent. Pick up the trash!

When we walk our dogs or take a walk around Olde Towne, I carry our dog’s pooper scooper with us, a dog waste pickup tool with claw action that is also perfect for picking up all types of trash without having to reach down to pick it up or handle it. I carry extra trash bags to fill with trash that we see as we go along our walk. It’s certainly not a big deal to pick up loose trash as you see it. Give it a try. You’ll feel a lot better when you turn and look behind you and see a clean street. We do the same when visiting our favorite oceanfront beach-combing site or cruising along whatever river, lake, or other larger body of water that we are traveling. A fish net with a long handle is the perfect tool for catching floating trash and boat hooks can snag larger floating items.

Local organizations also hold local waterfront clean-ups to pick up trash and other floating debris trapped in coves and landings washed up after storms. The piles are collected and picked up by the local city trash. A great site to visit about keeping our bodies of waters clean and healthy is the Elizabeth River Project. Visit their website at: 
This is what we try to do whenever possible. Write us and share your thoughts and ideas with us. Know of other great sites? Comment and leave us a link.

Let’s all work together and keep our streets, parks and waterways clean If you trash it-stash it!

Joe Elder

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Original Sea Glass Jewelry Creations by Danielle Renee & Deborah Leon

One of the great things about writing a blog like Coastal Creations and Design is the ability to attract wonderful folks that share the same common interests. As fate has it, we recently received a few favorable comments to a current post from two very talented artists, and both create exceptional sea-inpired jewelry from beach-combed sea glass. So I checked out their websites and Wah-lah! . . .the inspiration for another coastal creation. (See what writing a nice comment to our blog might bring you!)

 Danielle Renee’
Owner/designer of Sea Glass Jewelry by Danielle Renee’

A true beachcomber and beach lover, Danielle has spent most of her summers at the coast of New England which has been enough to foster her love of sea shore finds- especially sea glass, the jewels of the sea.

Couple that with her love of the arts, it was only a matter of time before destiny would lead her to becoming a sea glass jewelry designer and artisan.

Like many coastal residents and visitors, Danielle found collecting sea glass to be the perfect pastime while strolling the shores of both local and distant beaches. We are reminded that sea glass is actually glass trash yet through time and surf have been transformed into colorful, smooth and frosty sea gems. Sea glass has become the “new diamond”.
Danielles sea glass jewelry pieces are “Ocean Inspired” and eco-friendly. They are hand made with top quality and rare sea glass.

You can visit Danielle Renee's website by clicking on this link.

Deborah Leon
Owner/Designer of Mermaids Purse

"My whole life I have lived on a coast line some where. Lake Superior, Rhode Island, Tiawan and California. Everything in my life is greatly influenced by the ocean and living on the coast."

As an artist since since childhood,  Deborah is mostly inspired by the endless colors of creation, history, and fantasy. Her favorite challenges have always been taking natural, old, and recyclable elements and turning them into art….pretty art. With a little imagination and determination, she has taken sea treasures off the window sill, table tops and out of containers to be worn and enjoyed.

"This passion of Sea Glass, Mermaid’s, Ship Wreck’s, History and Mythology is infectious. Journey with me as I build new products, blog about sea glass and don’t miss the tellings of Ula my Mermaid. It’s a fantastical world."

You can visit Deborah Leon's website by clicking on this link:

Some thoughts about sea glass by Deborah Leon:
SEA GLASS JEWELRY is sure to enchant Mermaid's on land or sea. In fact myth has it that sailors and fishermen of days gone by referred to these translucent baubles as Mermaid's Tears.

DISCARDED: Sea Glass is discarded or lost glass. Before their were modern day guide lines for disposing of trash, it was common practice for dump sites to be over the cliffs of local shores. Freight liners would dump over the ship's side near harbors, and of course there are those who left and tossed trash on the beaches. Thus discarded glass.

LOST GLASS: So what is lost glass? From ship wrecks of course! There are the old ships that couldn't navigate and withstand squalls and winter storms. Then there are war ships that have sunk over the ages that are filled with glass ware of all kinds.

Does this stir your imagination? The allure of Sea Glass is not just in its beauty. The history and identification of a piece of Sea Glass can send you on a quest that could become an obsession. You see most Sea Glass is vintage or antique in age.

FROSTED Sea Glass is actually caused by a process called Hydration. Over decades and decades of glass swirling in the currents of the sea which has a high saline ( mineral ) content will cause the lime to leach from the bottle and redeposit itself over the surface of the bottle giving it a frosted, pitted, etched appearance.

PRETTY COOL TRASH...each piece is unique in shape, color, size and condition. It requires sorting through hundreds of pieces of sea glass ( with a cup of coffee) to select two for a pair of earrings.

GLASS OR GEM: I'll let you decide! What started as a combination of elements from the earth to become something man-made was returned to the earth via its water ways to be recomposed by nature to reappear as something more gem-like. Fascinating!

We invite you to leave your comments and please support these wonderful artists. Smooth sailing!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Martha Quigley Paints Seashells From the Seashore.

Marblehead, Massachusetts artist, Martha Quigley, makes her living from the sea. Not fishing or lobstering, but instead she finds inspiration for her paintings from the colors of the ocean and the shore.

“These new watercolors are created from shells I’ve collected over the years. Each one holds a special memory of the place it was found, or from whom it was a gift! Lately I’ve been playing with more and more underwater themes. I love the idea of seeing shells on the sandy bottom through crystal clear ocean water. “

Martha has always felt a real connection with the ocean. She started painting seaside subjects from the time she picked up a brush as a young child. “I was born under a water sign and as a 5-year-old, I told people I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up.”

Shells are among Martha’s favorite subjects because of their repetitive nature and endless variety. She’s tried many times to expand her palette, which favors cool sky and ocean colors, into earth tones, but keeps coming back to the colors she prefers of the sea!  Martha works in either oil or watercolor depending on her mood. "Watercolors are so immediately rewarding, while an oil painting can take much longer but is a very forgiving medium."
People often send Martha their favorite shells for a custom painting. Her artwork is collected by lovers of the sea all over the U.S. (O.K., mostly coastal U.S.!) as well as in Europe and Asia. She participates in several juried Art Festivals each year in the coastal New England area and will soon post a schedule on her virtual gallery website. You can visit Martha’s website and see her work at

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sea Shell Hunting at John D.MacArthur Beach State Park, Florida

Photo by Joe Elder

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much over this frigid weather. It’s time to stow away the gloves and winter coats and trade them in for shorts, T-shirts and boat shoes. Actually, I could really use a warm climate attitude adjustment. This would include a wide open un-crowded beach, crystal clear sky blue waters, the warmth of the sand between my toes and the hot sun on my back. And, there’s no better way to clear out the non-ending mind chatter than quality time walking the beach hunting for that perfect seashell.

My wife Alison and I have discovered the perfect place for this sun-worshiping endeavor. Our destination: John D. MacArthur Beach State Park on the east-coast of Florida. Never heard of it? It’s located in northern Palm Beach County on Singer Island, 2.8 miles south of the intersection of U.S. 1 and PGA Boulevard on A1A. It’s the only state park in Palm Beach County, an "island in time" preserving the lush and diverse subtropical coastal habitats that once covered southeast Florida. The park is nestled on a barrier island; it encompasses 325 acres, which includes mangrove fringed estuary, coastal hardwood forests, nearly two miles of beach and shallow near shore reefs.

Of course there are numerous beaches along Florida’s coast that offer great sea shell collecting - especially on the gulf coast. But this is our favorite hunting ground and a “must do” while visiting family in Palm Beach. The beach at MacArthur Park spans an area nearly three mile long. You can usually find numerous pockets of shells as you walk along the beach. We typically find scotch bonnets, varieties of clams and whelks, troches, tritely, limpets, fig shells, large numbers of lettered olives, an occasional lion’s paw and one time I even found a large Queen Helmet.

Photo by Joe Elder
I would be lying if I suggested that the shell hunting at MacArthur Park is always great. It’s not. Like most shell-hunting destinations, it’s all about timing. Factors like storms, real high or low tides can certainly make a difference. One of the first times that Alison and I visited MacArthur Beach was when there had been an extremely low tide. The water had receded beyond the reefs, exposing the sandy bottom that is typically underwater. It was by far one of the best days for shell hunting that we’ve encountered to date. Another memorable visit was after a large storm. The waves had pounded the beach area as far up as to the mangroves and had uncovered tons of shells. We found an unusually large assortment of shells and in great numbers. We also find sea glass along the waters edge in a variety of colors.

For the best shell hunting, we recommend that you check the tide chart for Singer Island or North Palm Beach and plan to get there as the tide is receding.

Here's an idea to dress up your coastal abode with some of your favorite shell treasures. We make them into beautiful lamp finials that we use in our home and also sell them in our store. You'll need epoxy glue or a comparable adhesive and a lamp finial base. You can order the brass finial blanks from most lamp accessory suppliers. Here's a picture of one of our finials using my favorite scoth bonnet shell. Not into making your own finial? You can buy one from us in our store or online on our webstore. All of the shells used we've found at MacArthur Beach Park.

To get to the beach, you’ll cross the 1,600-foot boardwalk that spans Lake Worth Cove. Mangroves surrounding the Cove comprise the most productive estuarine system in all of Lake Worth. Herons, ibis, roseate spoonbills and osprey hunt for prey, while fiddler crabs scuttle among the roots of the "walking trees."

Photo by Joe Elder
At the beach end of the boardwalk, on the west side of the dunes, lies a coastal hammock. On the beach, sea lavender, beach star and other rare native plant species thrive. Along the ocean shoreline, brown pelicans, terns, sandpipers and other shorebirds may be seen resting and feeding.

MacArthur Beach is also a prime nesting area for sea turtles. Large numbers of loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles nest in the park from early May through late August. Marine life is abundant along the offshore reefs and rock outcroppings within the park. These spectacular natural features, easily accessible from shore, make snorkeling a popular activity in the shallow waters.

Because it is a natural barrier island, the park also protects the mainland from harsh ocean storms. Shifting beach sands absorb wind and wave energy.

The park is located in northern Palm Beach County along Jack Nicklaus Drive in North Palm Beach. The park is open from 8am until sundown 365 days a year. The entrance fee is $5.00 per vehicle, maximum of 8 people. Park visitors can participate in a variety of recreational activities, including kayaking, fishing, bird-watching, and snorkeling.

For more information about MacArthur Beach Park, visit their web site at   You can also interact on their Facebook page. Go to:   Hope to see you there!

Tired of the cold weather? Tell us about your favorite warm weather getaway. Have a favorite sea shell hunting destination? Please share it with us. Love to hear from you! Joe & Alison Elder