Friday, August 5, 2011

Shelling Heaven

If there is a shelling heaven, I've reached it.

Yesterday, the matriarch of Kanton, Tekarai, invited me to do some shell art
with her. When we arrived, we were gifted with shell necklaces, and have
since received an ornate vase, in thanks for some epoxy and other supplies
that John provided.

But now, I would learn.

I arrived early in the day (10 am) to begin the adventure. Tekarai showed me
the basics of preparing the shells, and I immediately got busy with punching
two holes in each small shell. Also, I sorted the shells into the sizes that
I'd be using for my project, a bracelet. With help from Tekarai and her son,
Kabuta, I was shown the basics and was on my way! With a few minutes, Eric
stopped by the house, and also started to create shell magic. What a day. By
mid-day, I only had to add the crowning glory...a border of dark seeds and a
shell clasp that would finish my art! Now, I was ready for a more advanced
project - a vase!

It was interesting to learn that everyone here makes shell art...the men and
the women. They use these shell pieces for trade with passing boats, and
they return them to the other islands, where they are sold to the tourists.
What I've done so far is the easy part. During the full moon, the shells are
collected and laid out to dry, which may take up to two weeks. Then, the
shells are individually cleaned. Eric and I used hundreds of shells in our
projects, so we are now interested in helping them with the collection
process to replace the shells that we have used.