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Found Objects Make Fine Art on Block Island

Artist Gwyneth Wilson crafts colorful mosaics and jewelry from washed up sea glass

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There’s something about walking along the beach that can soothe the soul and help ease a weary mind. After Gwyneth Wilson was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in the summer of 2012, she put her career on pause and moved to Block Island to live with her brother. Feeling lost without a job and routinely sick from the cancer treatments, she started walking the island’s beaches every day. She’d find sea glass on the shore, especially after a storm, and began collecting it. The sea glass scavenger hunt then progressed into jewelry making, a craft she would learn from her brother-in-law, a jewelry maker himself. Soon enough, she was selling her creations at art shows and farmers markets.

Along with her jewelry designs, she now creates sea glass mosaics within floating frames and antique windows, using only authentic Block Island sea glass. Originating from old bottles and tableware discarded near piers and waste collection sites on the island, the glass eventually takes on a “frosty “ appearance, a result of the salt water’s pH level and erosion over time. The window frames act as a “canvas for the sea glass designs, with their colors reflecting the blues of the ocean, whites of the waves and greens of the bayberry bushes.” Gwyneth’s designs are available on Etsy, as well as the Block Island Farmers Market.