I found it along the shoreline: a wooden board with blue paint flaking off to reveal layers of underlying paint colors. With a long and triangular shape, it couldn’t be used for anything practical. I had to take it home. It’s been nine years since I found my first piece of beach art, which I keep tucked in my garden. Whenever I look at it, I think of that walk on Bound Brook Island beach.
Since then, I have dragged home many items from the beach to use in my home. Each piece adds interest — with color, texture, or because it holds history somehow. Most of what I go for is man-made: old cement blocks and bricks worn down to almost nothing make interesting statement pieces. Those blocks and bricks came sliding down the dune at one point in history from someone’s house. The wind, sand, and water reshaped not only the brick and the dune, but also the family that lived there.
I collect bits of china and pottery from old plates and cups that emerge from the sand. They are also pieces of history. I throw them among the rocks and plants in my garden to add a splash of color to the ground, and I put them in jars and dishes to serve as table centerpieces.
A door from an old cast-iron wood stove was a favorite find. It had rolled down the dune and sat there, forlorn. I loved the scroll work and the patina. It weighed a ton, so the walk home was long and my arms ached, but I had to take it with me. It now stands proudly at the end of my driveway with my street address painted on it.
Driftwood, buoys, and beach rope are easy to find on the shoreline. Pair the driftwood with the buoy and wrap them up with some colorful beach rope to make a unique sculpture. Mine sits near a bird feeder, so the birds perch on the sculpture while waiting their turn at the feeder.
One old wooden buoy with fabulous red and yellow and a black “X” hangs in my living room as an object of art. I paired it with a red lamp shade and an antique bottle opener depicting a man in a top hat. The colors of each piece match nicely, but it’s nothing like the matchy décor you’d find at IKEA.
Made of pottery, half of a face stares at me each morning while I drink my coffee on the patio. The ceramic piece was stuck in the mud downstream from a potter’s studio. Just an eye was visible through the mud. I had no idea what it was until I plucked it out. It now hangs on my fence.
Even the simplest finds can become art once you get them home. Interesting rocks and shells stacked up on each other haphazardly can make for an installation because they are beautiful, but also because they serve as a reminder of the places we’ve been — especially when those places are right here on our favorite beach walks.