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June 7, 2013

Beach Fun and a Huge Beach Mystery Solved

All images are photographs, not scans, and I can't maintain the white background, even with Photoshop adjustments.   

There are large clam shells everywhere on the beach and I bring home several from every morning beach walk.  Several evenings ago, my guests and I set up an art camp on my grandchildren's craft table and raided their paints, markers, and glitter glue.  Here is my first painted shell.


By bedtime I decorated 4 more.


My friend Sara and I bring home a variety of "other things" from the beach to sketch/paint in our travel sketchooks.  Here is a pine cone from one of the sandy beach entrances and a sea gull feather.


As I climbed out of the truck in the driveway yesterday, I looked into the grass right beneath my feet, and the only thing I saw was this four leaf clover.  I have NEVER found one before, and there it was!  I saved it on a sketchbook page by stitching a cellophane square over it and through the watercolor paper - then sealing the 4 edges with glue stick. 



Huge Beach Mystery: Early this week we arrived for our early morning 2 mile walk and saw many unusual "objects" on the beach. They were very smooth 6-8 inch beige partial circles, each with an identical lip and curved shape which resembled a piece of a toilet plunger.  None of them were a complete circle.  Were they pieces of rubber, manufactured as gaskets?  If so, why were there so many at the high tide line - extending over several miles.

Here are a few photos.  Wet they were very flexible and felt like leather or rubber.  Dry, they were very fragile and crumbled easily.  In the first photo you can see the size relative to an adult hand.



We picked up a few each day during our walk and asked random people if they could identify these strange things.  Surprisingly, most people hadn't seen them although they were everywhere.  Others, including those who lived here their entire life, had no idea what they were.  In each instance, the first question was "do you think they are organic or machine made?"  Each day we did some random computer searches and found nothing.  Our best guess was some part of ocean seaweed, but what? 

Yesterday I was looking at kelp images and saw a link to a website called MarineDetective.  What could I lose by emailing this Vancouver BC diver and marine expert.  So I did.  Within 30 minutes I received this reply.

"Laughing here! I get asked this so often. These are the egg cases (aka egg collars) of Lewis' moon snails ( Polinices lewisi)!  Moon snails are big predatory marine snails. They look so human made that I have had to correct people when they pick them up thinking they are garbage! By a remarkable method, the female moonsnail forms one layer of the collar by gluing together sand grains with mucus; the the fertilized eggs are laid on this layer and THEN she seals them in with another layer of sand and mucus!!!  The eggs are held within the collar for 1.5 months and, in the ones you found, may already have hatched out to be 1000s of planktonic larvae. I include a more detailed description below. 

May I use your image to add to the "marine ID requests" part of my FaceBook page?  It will allow me to direct others there!  

Best wishes!
Jackie Hildering
Biologist / Marine Educator
Follow "The Marine Detective" at 
We have two different species of moon snails here in the North Atlantic.  But this description of the egg laying process appears to be universal.  These fascinating structures are called sand collars.  Here is more detailed information from "The Marine Detective."
"When a female is ready to lay her eggs, and she lays several thousand at a time, she rises above the sand and encases her entire shell with the foot.  Cilia on the foot pick up individual grains of sand and spread them over her body until she is covered with a grain-thick layer. These sand grains are then cemented together with mucous. So she is now encased in a single layer of cemented sand grains.

Next the eggs are produced and, again using the cilia, are evenly distributed between her flesh and the sand layer.  Once she's done laying the eggs she creates another layer of sand, again cemented together with mucous, between her foot and the eggs. The end result is a paper-thin sand sculpture molded into the shape of her foot-covered shell and made up of two layers of sand with a thin layer of eggs in between them, completely surrounding the mother's body. Now she needs to escape. Using the foot action described above, she digs straight down beneath the sand and ducks underneath her creation, leaving this "sand collar" behind." 

June 4, 2013

Beach Week Continues

We're thoroughly our enjoying our annual beach vacation, and except for a rainy yesterday, walk the beach each morning. 

 I'm posting 3 sketchbook pages - the beach entrance to a HUGE beach house, some beach peas growing wild along one of the beach entrance walkways, and my friend Renee knitting while 6 of us watched Casablanca.  It rained yesterday and rewatching this classic movie on DVD was a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

These paintings were photographed, not scanned, and I can't figure out how to get rid of the blue color of the watercolor paper.  It is actually white. 






May 27, 2013

May Bookbinding Project

This year I am exploring a new book structure each month.  So far I've made coptic, long stitch, flag, and accordion books.  My May bookbinding structure was s portfolio.  I had some loose drawings/paintings that I wanted to put in a portfolio for safe keeping, so I chose to make it 8 X 10.5 " to fit these papers.  I used the basic instructions from Alisa Golden's book Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings Structures Forms.


The cover and end papers were made from paste papers originally made in a workshop at Center for Book Arts here in New York City.  The spine was made from Tex Libris book cloth.   





May 21, 2013

Family Wedding

This is my only sketch from an entire 3 day weekend!  But I have a great excuse!  Our Family went to Philadelphia this past weekend for a very special wedding.  


Even though the groom is the grandson of my husband's first cousin, they are the family who we spend major holidays with, including all Thanksgivings since 1989!  The wedding couple both graduated from medical school on Friday afternoon and that evening was the start of a weekend full of celebratory activities.  Ari will begin his internship in Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago next month - the program that I trained at beginning in 1969!


Our children were there and we took advantage of the occasion to get a family photo.  It is rare to have everyone together without our grandchildren, and dressed up.  They are very close to the groom and his older brother - and we adore both of their wives.  And, both families were thrilled - making it a joyous event. 


Only one of our grandchildren was there, and my husband and I took care of him Saturday AM.  Since they live in DC, this was a fabulous babysitting gig for us!  Here is William gazing at his giant new giraffe. 


May 17, 2013

Charlie and Paul Klee

I finished painting the sketchbook page I did in honor of Charlie's 3 day visit.  More details are in the previous blog post.


Today I walked to 3 galleries to see their current exhibits and quickly sketched a few details from one of Paul Klee's Bauhaus prints.  The lady in profile captured my attention as soon as I saw the print and I had to return to sketch her quickly with my dreaded Pentel Pocket Brush Pen!  The print was from 1925 and it was in one of 3 exhibits that I really enjoyed. 


These were the exhibits - all within 10 blocks of each other on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan: 

Paul Klee - The Bauhaus Years at the Dickinson Gallery. 19 E. 66th St from May 3-June 14, 2013

Munch and German Expressionism  at David Tunick, Inc. 19 E. 66th St. from May 7 - May 20, 2013

George Grosz (Watercolor Paintings) at Soufer Gallery.  1015 Madison Ave from April 23- June 14, 2013.

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