Christmas is a season of glitter and sparkle—and a time to think of loved ones in a loving and special way. I met Lisa Zandt, a talented jeweler of sea glass, at an artists’ fair in Puerto la Cruz recently. Lisa’s designs are “one of a kind” with each piece being lovingly hand crafted out of glass that has been washed up on Caribbean beaches after years of being worn down by sand and waves. No artificial tumblers or modern enhancers for this gal. All of her designs are uniquely created.
“Although I am a water person I was trained as a medical microbiologist, both as a research biologist, using some microbiology, and later in technical sales. Most of my research was molecular biology—meaning that I worked as a research technician for a bio-tech company developing DNA test kits for crime labs along with test kits for sanitation within the food industry. In 2001, I married Douglas Brown, a sailor, and we eased into the cruising life together.
“We live aboard an Endeavour 42, Highland Light, which we sailed down the east coast, through the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands and then down the Windward and Leeward Islands. Everywhere we stopped, I would walk the beaches. I started collecting sea glass in addition to shells… soon I had an excellent collection. While Doug was doing maintenance and repair I started working with the glass I had collected. I had previously made shell frames enhanced with beadwork but then friend Mary Ann Grimley, from Midwatch, showed me how to wrap sea glass with sterling wire and I fell in love with it.
“I find the glass and then begin sorting it into classifications as to texture, edges, color and shape. The edges have to be smooth. I find lots of variations of green, white and brown, however dark blue is very difficult to find, and generally what I find is not large enough to use. I don’t shape or sand the pieces as each is unique, so I try to work with the design with this in mind and I don’t own a tumbler or chisel.
“I spread the pieces out on a large piece of white paper and then spend a lot of time contemplating each piece – deciding what color beads would look best with it. When I start wiring, it sort of takes off in a shape of its own. The design of the wire work is influenced by the shape of the glass. I make the pendent first and then I will decide if I want to keep it as an individual piece or do I want to add beading. Many of my pendants are “reversible” with each side being a work of art in itself. Earrings are difficult, as finding sea glass of the appropriate size and color with which to do a set is next to impossible—as I like to keep the colors, size and shape approximately the same.
“I order my components from the U.S. via the Internet and when we have guests aboard, their “toll” is bringing beads and my bead orders. I now sell at markets and to cruising friends throughout the Caribbean and get a real kick when I see someone wearing my jewelry – I love it. Because of this, I try and keep my pieces within cruiser’s budgets.”