Paul Veit About
I make these sea glass window hangings myself, entirely by hand. I gather the sea glass and driftwood on the rocky beaches here in Newport, Rhode Island. I have two particularly great places: one on the Cliffwalk, a National Historic Trail and the other at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. I consult a tides chart to see if the tide is low enough to make it worthwhile going out to look for the glass. With the aid of surgical tweezers I can pick up even the smallest pieces of sea glass without losing them. The smaller ones are often the ones completely rounded by the sea and are like tiny drops of color standing out from the stones and shells. The weathering and shaping of the glass occurs as much by a natural chemical process as by friction. The naturally high pH level of sea water attacks the glass and enables microscopic chipping to occur. Real natural sea glass has a frosted surface which whitens when dry. New driftwood pieces can be found especially in the winter months after a storm has washed them high up on the beach. When I have an especially thick piece I often thin it using a planer and/or split it. Especially long ones can be cut into sections making an angled or curved cut and rounding - sanding to smooth the cut end. A single large piece of driftwood can yield more than one piece to work with.
I then sort the glass by color. Each piece of glass is glued onto the plexiglass ___window___ one by one using a toothpick to apply the glue and fitting the shapes as tightly as possible. I use a very good quality silicone adhesive that stays clear, very strong and does not become brittle with age. Also, the seaglass is not altered by the glue which can be removed without damaging the seaglass. I started making these almost 20 years ago and the ones I made back then have held together perfectly. I also like to include stones, shell, and pieces of worn, rounded ceramic bits (pottery, plates) that I find along with the glass. Stems for flowers and branches for trees are represented with long shaped stones. I keep all these other elements to a minimum. I use them to accentuate the piece and make the theme more recognizable. The inspiration for these window hangings comes naturally from the rocky seashore and beautiful gardens here in Newport.
To cut out the ___window___ in the driftwood piece I use a scroll saw. I start the opening by drilling a small hole and then free-form the opening with the saw. I also use the scroll saw to cut the plexiglass to fit into the opening using a different blade. I secure the plexiglass into the opening using tiny brads (nails) that I cut the heads off then insert with pliers. I set the plexiglass permanently with another silicone adhesive. I make the hanging loops with copper wire, twisting and soldering with a mini-butane torch. I sign and date each one by burning in the letters with a very small soldering iron and then attach a length of clear fishing line so they can be hung in a window or any place where it's lit from behind. Of course, the textured side where the sea glass is attached is the side to view the piece from.
I love every step in the process of making these objects. Walking the rocky shore all year around is a great pleasure. The sense of the power of the ocean, the beauty and timeless nature of the ancient rocks, the weathered and rounded shapes; all are things that greatly appeal to me. I__™ve become quite the rock climber; it__™s really the only way to experience these great sites. I am also an amateur photographer and film-maker. The intense colors of the algae and other plants in the shallow tide pools, the clear bright blue-green water and reflections underneath are all great subjects. Newport has a long-standing tradition of importing and planting all kinds of trees, shrubs and flowers and especially when seen at certain times of day in certain light are another inspiration for my work.
- 66 Girard Ave. unit 312
- Rhode Island
- Postal Code:
- Phone Number:
- 401 8419253