Sanibel Island Artist Retreat & Shelling Adventure
May 13 - 15, 2015
(THIS WORKSHOP IS NOW FULLY BOOKED and REGISTRATION CLOSED)
An experiential artist retreat for nature-minded souls who want to breathe in the ocean, and do a little shelling.
IN THE STUDIO: We will be creating a Naturalist Collection Box to incorporate shells and other treasures found on our shelling expeditions. If you attended my 2014 retreat and would like to return in 2015, let me know and we will discuss how to make this a unique experience for you.
SHELLING: Sanibel Island is one of the top shelling destinations in the world because of it's unique east west orientation to the coastline, allowing it to capture an abundance of shells with the incoming tides. shells and shelling are the focus of this retreat and art workshop.
SANCTUARY: Our seaside studio is our sanctuary. It is a large sun-filled space, surrounded by sand, sea and sky. Our work tables will be arranged so that we can celebrate the uniqueness of this special place. Our studio is a place of peace. When you enter it each day, leave your cares behind and allow yourself to embrace what I have planned for you.
TRAVEL LIGHT: This is a workshop for individuals who are able to embrace the idea of traveling light. You need only arrive with a few basic tools. A kit will be provided that contains everything else. In addition to paper collage, we will be working with found materials, such as shells, palm fiber, gumbo limbo bark, hemp twine, driftwood, mangrove propagules, found feathers, etc.
ITINERARY: Each day of the retreat, we will rise early and meet at 7:30 AM, to shell for an hour and a half before breakfast. After shelling, we will return to the Inn and meet in the dining room at Traditions on the Beach for a light breakfast. Following breakfast, we will all meet in the studio to work on our naturalist collection boxes. I have organized our time so that it is possible to complete the collection box, two specimen boxes, and an array of naturalist type labels during out time together.
You will have a couple of hours of free time prior to dinner the first two days, so that you may rest or explore on your own. On those two days, we will rendezvous around 5 pm for dinner. On the our last day together, we will finish up in the studio before lunch. After lunch, we will visit a very special shell shop and, if time permits, we will try to get to either the shell museum, or the Sanibel Library where there is an exquisite shell exhibit that features one woman's collection spanning a period of 40 years. On our last day together, again weather permitting, dinner will be picnic-style followed by a sunset cruise. In the event of rain, we will dine at Traditions on the Beach.
If we have enough drivers in our group, I will plan our dinners so that we can visit different beaches and work in an hour or so of shelling either before or after dinner. If we have drivers, one evening, we will drive to Captiva and shell at Blind Pass before dinner, and on another evening we will visit the Lighthouse Beach after dinner. The lighthouse beach has some unique features for those of you who enjoy photography. It's not an uncommon site for pods of bottlenose dolphin to visit Lighthouse Beach to fish in the evening.
REGISTRATION: If my vision for this retreat resonates with you, please refer to the two-part registration process in the left sidebar. Space at the Inn is limited, please reserve early!
NATURALIST COLLECTION BOX
These TYPE labels were styled with Character Constructions Natural History stamps and vintage shell prints. You will find copies of the shell prints in your workshop kit and stamps will be available in the studio.
A peek inside my collection box from 2014. In the top row you will find specimen boxes, a couple of shell-topped spool books, and a few of my island finds. In the second row there are some specimen bottles containing shells that we harvested from egg casings, a few local shell finds, as well as a couple of shells from the shell shop. In the third row, you will find a number of shells, collected and purchased, and a lightening welk egg case full of baby shells.
The bow is an example of an extra embellishment that you might choose to add when you return to your personal studio.
The COST of this retreat is $350, which includes three days of shelling, studio time and your workshop kit. It does not include accommodations, meals, admission to the shell museum or the sunset cruise. A light continential breakfast (fresh baked pastries, fresh cut fruit, yogurt assortment, hardboiled eggs, coffee, tea and fresh squeezed juices) is included with your stay at the Island Inn. The on-site restaurant, Traditions on the Beach, is not open for lunch but I have arranged for lunch to be brought into the studio each day.
BASIC TOOL KIT: Please bring scissors (regular and small detail), Golden's matte medium, Golden's soft gel matte, 8 oz bottle of isopropyl alcohol, screwdrivers for small slotted screws and phillips head screws (a 2-in-1 works well), small bookmaker's awl, 2 paint brushes -- 1/2" & 3/4" square, 4" soft brayer, 1 or 2 all purpose fine/medium sanding sponge, 2 or 3 terry cloth "wash cloth-type rags," a large nonstick craft sheet for your work surface, and a few glue dots to attach shells and other items to the inside of your box lid. You will also need something to hold water for your brushes, preferably something with a wide base, such as a recycled one-gallon milk jug with the top cut off.
The paints I supply will be sand colored with some touches of shell pink. If you would like to work with a color accent other than shell pink, please feel free to bring another paint color.
MY TEACHING STYLE: I am quiet and focused in the studio. As an artist and illustrator of many years, I am happy for the opportunity to share with you my working methods, and a few of the ways that I have used unconventional materials in my collection box. This project is fairly intuitive, but I will provide demos as needed. Because everyone works at their own pace, you will receive a booklet with step-by-step instructions to keep you moving along if I am helping someone else. This is not a difficult project, but it is detailed and requires focus. I will not be working on my own collection box during our time together, but I will be circulating and helping you with yours!
SHELLING METHODOLOGIES: For the most part, my methods change according to the tide and conditions. But I highly recommend a shell bag with a shoulder strap so that you can keep your hands free. And, my favorite shelling tool is the Sand Dipper Jr. It breaks down into two parts, so it will be easy to get it onto and off of the island in your suitcase.
GETTING THERE: Sanibel is located off the coast of Ft. Myers. If you are flying in, use Regional Southwest Airport, RSW, in Ft. Myers.
SANIBEL TAXI: You won't need a car unless you plan to stay longer and explore on your own. We have used Sanibel Taxi in the past and they have been very reliable. They generally meet you inside the airport at the bottom of the escalator near the luggage return, wearing a pink shirt and holding a sign with your name on it. When you make your reservation, be sure to have your flight information available. They will keep an eye on your flight and know if there are any delays. If you make any changes in your flight, be sure to let them know. 1-888-527-7806
IF YOU BRING YOUR SPOUSE, please be sure to check out the list of activities on the Island Inn web site. I can also give you the names of a couple of galleries that you might enjoy visiting. Otherwise, I don't think you will find Sanibel much of a shopping destination. Spouses are welcome to shell with us and dine with us. In fact, if they would like to register, they may also join us in the studio!
Stretch of beach just outside our studio door.
Specimen Boxes: We will be creating two specimen boxes to hold found treasures.
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The Shell Collector "It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire."
Robert Louis Stevenson
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FIELD JOURNAL: Summer
June 22, 2006
This season I am writing from base camp on the tropical island of Sanibel. I arose early this morning so that mine might be the first set of footprints dotting the shore following high tide. This is but one of my shelling methodologies. Which I choose, depends a lot on what I’d like to find in my shell case at the end of the day. In A Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh shared her thoughts on shelling: “. . . one must never dig. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy or too impatient. To dig shows lack of faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.” This morning’s treasure hunt brought lightening welks and atlantic giant cockles gathered as they tumbled in the receding surf.
I have been shelling on this particular stretch of beach along West Gulf Drive for all of my adult life. Back when we lived in South Florida, it was just a two-hour jaunt through the Everglades. Now, it is nearly two day’s ride or a 1 ½ hour flight from Atlanta Hartsfield airport. This summer we chose the latter and immersed ourselves in the warm tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico for all of eight days. No matter how many days we spend on the island, it never seems quite enough.
Today I met an ancient collector on the beach. She was clad in slacks, long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks, and juggled her shell bag and an umbrella. She was on the beach from very early in the morning until sundown. We weathered several showers in close proximity. She stood in the surf most of the day, steadfast and focused on the hunt. Eventually I found a baby horse conch, one of the rarer shell finds during the summer months, and offered it to her. It brought a smile to her face, but she seemed self conscious during our chat standing there fully clothed in ankle-deep water. She explained that her blood pressure medication causes her to be ultra sensitive to sunlight, and she “wasn’t going to Sanibel without shelling!” I completely understood. It seemed a small concession to be there on that perfect day sifting through the shells for hours on end, contemplating the universe.
Sanibel is a magical place with more than half its land, 5000 acres, a dedicated nature preserve. And its gulf- rimmed beaches rank among the top shelling locales in the northern and western hemispheres. Unlike other barrier islands, Sanibel is positioned east and west of the mainland allowing for bountiful shell deposits. I have always felt a spiritual connection to the island, possibly because I was raised on old Florida’s sun-drenched shores and spent all my time in and around water, until I ultimately married my husband in a park on Biscayne Bay in the midst of a torrential spring downpour.
Sanibel is still the Florida of my youth, vintage Florida. And its natives have done everything possible to keep it undeveloped and chaste. This year we returned to find Sanibel, sans its lush vegetation and struggling to recover from the effects of a red tide. We arrived July 21, almost two years post Hurricane Charley and were eager to reconnect. Fortunately, while Charley was a fast-moving hurricane packing winds, it was not pushing much water. We were relieved to see that two years out, the most notable change was the loss of its lush tree canopy along Periwinkle Drive. As always, it was reassuring to find things relatively unchanged. Even our favorite beach seemed unharmed.
When we aren’t on the beach, we kayak through the black mangrove estuaries of Ding Darling nature preserve observing anhinga and scarlet ibis along our route. We visit the Baily-Matthews Shell Museum to study local specimens and those from around the world. In the photo above, you will find a seed (propagule) from a red mangrove tree. The old time islanders have been known to ride out storms in the mangrove estuaries, believing them to be the safest place during storms because of their great strength. Without mangroves, eventually the island would succumb to the tides. While it is illegal to pick one of these seeds from a tree, you may collect them from the flotsam and jetsam of the tidal wash. If your seed floats, it is still viable and may be planted.
One of the things we particularly enjoy about Sanibel, are the afternoon storms as they come rolling in from the sea, thunderous and dark, but at the same time, cool, breezy and insisting on a respite from the sun. And, of course, something we don’t see much in the heavily forested Georgia terrain, the colors of a sunset drifting beneath the horizon as day becomes night.
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“ . . . Think of all you would have missed but for the journey there, and know that the true worth of your travels lies not in where you come to be at journey’s end, but in who you come to be along the way.”