In this trio of longtime Scituate friends, everybody has a job to do.
For Lisa Julian, it’s finding and turning scrap wood into nautically-inspired frames for a piece of glass. Ree Martin then steps in with her collection of colorful sea glass, shells, sand and other materials to bring a piece of the ocean to life inside the restored frame. From there, the artwork makes it’s way to David Smith, who carefully packages and ships it to one of thousands of happy customers across the globe.
Together, the three make up Beach Creations, a Scituate-based small business and online Etsy shop. With Julian’s craftsmanship, Martin’s creativity and Smith’s attention to detail, Beach Creations has become a top-rated online shop that sells locally inspired artwork to buyers in Hawaii, Arizona, Italy and Germany, to name a few.
The business started with Martin alone, who was laid off from her job about 10 years ago. She found herself without anything to fill her days, but what the longtime scuba diver did have was a passion for the ocean and a collection of sea glass she’d amassed from years diving around the Boston Harbor Islands and walking local beaches.
“Someone said ‘Why don’t you make jewelry?’ and I said ‘Everyone makes jewelry.’ So I went to a sea glass convention and it was such an eye-opener,” Martin said. “I thought ‘I’d love to put glass on windows’ and boy did I make a lot of mistakes in the beginning. But I ultimately perfected this method of fusing the sea glass to the windows.”
At first, Martin made her sea glass art only on antique windows, either those brought to her or saved from buildings undergoing renovation. She loved it, but said as her business grew it was impossible to recreate a piece at a client’s request using unique vintage products.
“But that’s also what was so beautiful about those old windows, they were absolutely one of a kind,” Julian said of her friend’s original pieces.
Now, Martin works in a dedicated workshop on her Scituate property that is full of buckets labeled to hold turtle sand, small mermaids, acrylic starfish, scallop shells, pieces of mirror and, of course, sea glass. The 66-year-old artist collects much of the material herself from the beaches around the greater Boston area and Falmouth, and can order anything extra online.
She uses a special, heat-based bonding method to fuse material to the glass — she won’t share her secret — and shapes her supplies into waves, jellyfish, octopi and other nautical staples.
“I have to feel like it’s flowing,” she said. “It’s not a precise puzzle, sometimes I finish something and don’t think it flows so I’m going at it with tweezers and tearing it apart.”
In a neighboring backyard shed, Julian is in charge of recycling local wood into frames for Martin’s work, a job she took over from Smith, 78, several years ago. She constantly has her eye out for construction sites and other potential sources of used lumber, and says it’s a labor intensive part of the process.
“Just on my end, it’s finding the wood, dismantling any nails, measuring, cutting, sanding, assembly and then it goes to Dave to be whitewashed,” Julian said. “The wood alone can take three hours.”
The trio’s art form is not a quick one, but all three members of the team say the work put in is more than worth what comes together in the end.
“It’s just so satisfying when you see the finished piece,” Julian said. “We are so detail-oriented and so proud of every finished piece that is going in someone’s home and will effect their mood every day.”
Martin said she loves it when customers send photos of the piece in their home or tell stories of how much it means to them.
“I just love knowing that people loved the product,” she said.
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Greg Derr. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.