Tidal pools

I grew up on Vancouver Island, surrounded by trees, mountains and the ocean.  Even though I haven’t lived there in many years I still feel that the West Coast informs my thinking, my being and my art.  When we go back there is something that just feels “right”.  We’ve been going back every year for a while now to check in on my Mom.

If I get a chance I like to get out to a beach – especially an interesting one with tidal pools and miscellaneous flotsam on the beach!  The best beaches for this type of thing that I’ve found are on the west coast of the island, such as East Sooke Park, Point No Point, or the granddaddy of them all – Botanical Beach!

I’m the person who is peering into pools to see what inhabitants got stuck when the tide went out – no time for sun tanning!  When I was young I spent a lot of time turning over big rocks to see all of the little crabs make a mad dash for safety!  I’m more respectful now, though sometimes it is tempting!

Most often you see various types of seaweed, tiny crabs and tiny fish, and anemones.  Sometimes, though you get lucky – a biggish fish, big colorful anemones, a hermit crab, a star fish(!), whelks – who knows, the possibilities seem endless.  The downside is tidal pools are darn hard to photograph, and the little fellas in them, who are mobile, are really zippy which makes it a challenge to get their picture too.

tidal pool
This is a tidal pool that is at Point No Point, mussels, barnacles and an anemone!
close up of the anemone in tidal pool
Here's a close up of the anemone - this one was/is huge compared to what you usually see!
beach at East Sook Park
I know this isn't a tidal pool, but it was so unbelievably clear and beautiful when we went to East Sook Park that I had to show it. This is where my heart is.
fish in tidal pool
Unfortunately, I don't know what species this is - but what a great fish nontheless! In my experience, it is unusual to get a fish of this size and type in a tidal pool. This was at East Sooke Park.
rock with barnacles on the beach
This rock is on the beach at the base of Mt Doug. A couple of years ago, I spent a fun morning making molds of barnacles on this beach.

This all leads back to our “big” final year project in school.  We were to make either a necklace or bracelet with a “mechanical” catch.  (In this case mechanical means not a toggle, hook, or lobster claw.)  I knew a few things right away: I wanted the catch to be hidden, I wanted to use enamel and I wanted an ocean theme.

From the outset of the design process I was determined to use a shell for the shape of the enamel.  Then I thought about adding barnacles and beach rock shapes.  This was an exciting project because I had to think all of the way particularly because I made the centre piece curved and asymmetrical which made construction a challenge!  In the end, I am very pleased and proud of how it turned out:

tidal pool necklace
Tidal Pool Necklace - sterling silver, fine silver, enamel, 18K gold, freshwater pearls. Photo: P. Ambtman, Digital by Design

By the way, isn’t that baroque pearl fabulous – I sure was nervous when I was setting it!   We also had to design a companion piece for our necklace, which was a no-brainer for me(!) – earrings!

Tidal Pool Earrings - sterling silver, fine silver, enamel, freshwater pearls, 18K gold. Photo: P. Ambtman, Digital by Design

What are your sources of inspiration?  This land locked West Coast gal would like to know!

All the best,


2 Responses to Tidal pools

  1. wow!… I just love the Tidal Pool Necklase… Its gorgeous. It makes me think of hot summer days at the beach, yet keeping cool…you did an awesome job!!! Let me know when it goes up for sale :)

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