After a bustling year and holiday season, I am so happy to finally sit at my desk and reflect on 2010 and make plans for 2011. Last year at this time, I introduced Mannequin Cafe, a collection that took form as I dreamed of a Paris workshop, followed up with Studio Assistant custom dies in the fall, and had some very fine adventures in between, including a treasure hunt at the puces of Mt. Dora with Barbara Smith. My life thus far has been quite an adventure and I am supremely fortunate and grateful to all of you for your continued friendship and support.
This year I borrowed a sweet title from a tongue twister I loved as a child, She Sells Seashells by the Seashore, which also happens to be the name of one of my favorite shell shops on Sanibel Island. I grew up along the Florida shore in a coastal community and it has influenced my life in countless ways. As children, my sisters and I were fascinated with mermaids, particularly the Weeki Wachee mermaids. During the summer of 1970, while I was visiting my grandparents, my little sister Laura sent me a Giant Post Card from Weeki Wachee, addressed to the wrong street and zip code, but somehow it not only managed to find me, but I still have it! (In her post card note, she apologized for being too busy to write sooner -- were we always so busy?) Along with that postcard I also received a Florida Pictorial booklet from Weeki Wachee featuring an entire cast of beautiful mermaids. I am surprised there is anything left of this booklet as we studied it endlessly, imitating the mermaid underwater poses in our backyard wading pool. Bringing this new collection to life has been a lot of fun and a little like being in the splash pool with my sisters on one of our mermaid adventures!
Adopting the She Sells Seashells title for my collection has had me wondering about the origins of the tongue twister. As luck would have it, I received a call from a kindred spirit this morning, Maliene Wajer. We met in Balitmore, Maryland a few summers ago during a weekend workshop at The Queen's Ink. Maliene discovered my new ad for She Sells Seashells and called to tell me about a book by Tracy Chavalier (Girl With the Pear Earring), entitled Remarkable Creatures. I had actually read this book a couple of years ago and was reminded by Maliene that the story of remarkable creatures is based on the life of Mary Anning, a fossil hunter who lived in Lyme Regis, on the coast of England. The She Sells tongue twister is believed to have been written about Mary. So, for those of you joining me on mermaid adventures this year, I highly recommend this book.
To get your mermaid adventure underway, slip into your favorite scallop shell bra top, pick a tail from the book of mermaid couture, and relax for a little longer. You have made it this far (merci), so please sit down and enjoy this slide show compliments of one of my very best friends and mermaid artist extraordinaire, Nancy Gene Armstrong: