Beachcombing season – and an opportunity to get crafty

It’s certainly winter storm time, and the beaches are, as might be expected, full of plastic washed in with high tides. This needs to be cleared as quickly as possible, before it finds its way back into the water to play havoc with fish, birds and other sea farers. 

Some of the plastics washed up don’t come from boats, but are washed seaward through streams and rivers. Any rubbish dropped inland will eventually end up in the ocean, which is why it is so important not to litter.

There is a pleasure in beach cleaning. For me it’s a mindful pursuit; breathing in the fresh sea air, slowly wandering along the shore line, looking for bits of rubbish and the occasional treasure. I usually have two bags; one for rubbish to be binned, and the other for interesting and brightly coloured items that I can transform into something else.

We are fast approaching the festive season. I don’t like the spend-fest that goes with Christmas, which inevitably leads to waste and often a feeling of inadequacy for anyone struggling to pay day-to-day bills. There are elements I do love though; the opportunity to gift chutneys made with the glut of autumn fruits, visiting local craft fairs, community events and getting together with loved ones.

Gift Ideas

For me there are few things better than giving or receiving a homemade gift using recycled materials. And this is where beach cleaning season really comes into its own. Colourful pieces of net, scraps of fabric encrusted with barnacles, bright shards of plastic, tiny microbeads; they all make great material for art projects. All you need is PVA glue. Here are my suggestions:

A sea-themed wreath – you can purchase metal hoops from flower shops and plant nurseries to use as a base for wrapping around net and brightly coloured fishing wire. Decorate with shells and beach treasures such as lego pieces or feathers.

A decorated frame – buy the chunkiest frames you can find from your local charity shop and decorate with jetsam.

A collage – you can go fiddly by creating impressionist pictures of fish or other sealife using microbeads (a good one for small fingers – children are best at this). You could make a cardboard template first, to make it easy to do multiple copies.

A display – fill a printer tray or ornament display frame with interesting items; broken toothbrushes, cartridges, fishing floats, old lighters etc.

Artwork – go abstract and combine bright beach waste with snippets of poetry and paint. Anything goes!

There are many excellent artists that use jetsam. You may wish to look online for inspiration. Locally Rame Peninsula Beach Care has a gallery with fine works by Liz Franklin, Linda Dunstone and more. One of my favourite local artists is Rob Arnold, who among his many impressive achievements has created a giant Easter Island inspired head created entirely from micro-beads. His Instagram is I also love the Instagram accounts Smartie-lids-on-the-beach and tidelinetrashandtreasures. 

So as winter sets in, head for the beach with a bag or two, and then on those stormy, rainy days when going outside is a chore, you’ll have all the materials for a perfect wet-weather craft project. Enjoy!

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