Seaside by Arlene

Eliot, Maine 1930 Sales On Etsy since 2011

5 out of 5 stars (441)


Seaside by Arlene

Eliot, Maine | 1930 Sales

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Arlene Nebbia

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Arlene Nebbia


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About Seasidebyarlene3

Sales 1,930
On Etsy since 2011

Crafting a place among glass and stones

By Jeanné McCartin
Arlene Nebbia has always found peace at the ocean, the smell, the rhythm, the air. Seems fitting she would find her avocation, and potentially a career from the sea as well.
Even as the ocean served up its smooth, worked stones, ceramic and glass, it took the encouragement of others to get the human magpie to turn them into adornment.
"I started collecting heart rocks about 10 years ago, heart-shaped stones you find at the beach. I probably had 100 at the house; I think David wanted to kill me. Well, not actually," she adds, laughing. "You know what I mean. There were a lot of them."
David is husband David Nebbia, the musician (formerly of Camarojuana, currently with Supermachine), whose support, along with that of her extended family, prodded Nebbia to turn rocks into jewelry.
The gathering started casually; her sister-in-law's collection the inspiration. "I just started doing it and then I couldn't stop. It's like they find me now and I don't even have to look for them."
It was a sister who suggested Nebbia do something with her sea treasures.
"Everyone in my family is involved with art, all my sisters, they draw, one's a silversmith, one quilts; they're very talented, and my mother."
Nebbia, who grew up in Kittery, Maine, and now resides in Eliot, claims she is, or was, the only "artless" one of the lot. Nonetheless, she'd done her share of craft shows, supporting her mom's ventures. Her own creative outlet waited — there was the family with three boys to raise, and a job; but the collecting continued.
"Then I started picking up sea glass. I got a kayak and was going out to the islands off Fort Foster and was picking it up," says Nebbia. There were trips to a sister's home on Beals Island."
There she discovered sea glass. "There's so many colors. ...; I love the blues, not necessarily the cobalt but the aqua, the light blues, and the light purples, the pastelly colors," she says. "It's so beautiful, even the white pieces. I have tons of whites, but I can't stop picking it up. When it's in the light it's like an opal, especially when wet."
So, the piles grew.
"Finally I had so much I said, I've got to do something with this!"
About a year ago Nebbia began puttering around with the collection.
"I started drilling," she says with one of her easy laughs. There was a lot of trial and error, and lost glass. "It's kind of a bummer when you find a cool piece of glass and you drill it and it breaks."
Over time she learned the tricks, using ice and water in the process, and keeping tools sharp. There was still the occasional drilled finger, but she continued to improve.
Initially Nebbia made key chains for herself and family, and then moved on to wearable pieces
"Again that's David motivating me, and friends. They just loved it, thought it was beautiful. They encouraged me to do more," she says.
She created earrings, bracelets, cuffs, necklaces and continued with key rings.
"When I first started making the stuff I wasn't making it with sterling ... I wasn't planning on taking it seriously. Now I've gone to the next level with it. I feel better about how I'm making it and what I'm making it with."
Eventually she was encouraged to show at fairs, this time with her own work. Nebbia dipped her toe in with a show at the school her kids attended. She now shows occasionally at the Roundabout Diner's "Vendor Blenders," and regularly at Poppy Seed Studio in Somersworth.
The big leap came when she applied for a spot at Portsmouth's Market Square Day. She was at work, at The Gap Outlet, when she heard she'd been accepted.
"When I heard I was so excited. I was at work and I was jumping around. The (young people) I work with were all thinking I was crazy," she says. "Really, it's kind of nerve-racking. I want people to like it. I make it because I like it, but I want them to like it."
Every free moment is spent drilling these days. Weeks ahead she'd already completed 50 earrings and 50 necklaces, "and I keep chugging along. ...; It's a good day when I don't drill my finger!"
Once Market Square is done Nebbia plans to reach out to more stores. The dream is a store of her own sometime down the line.
And so the gathering continues.
"I have a secret spot — can't tell you. Dave and I came across it one day and now it's about the only place I go other than to my sister's up in Maine. The glass can be hard to find but not as hard in the 'special spot.'"
Nebbia tends to walk the beach, iPhone on, at least once a week, though it is about so much more than the hunt, she says.
"At 14, I had a brother die in the ocean. So for me it's part of him. It's peaceful; peaceful, emotional and relaxing."
It's easy to lose yourself there — to both to the sea's beauty and of course the hunt, she adds.
"I could do it for three hours and it would feel like it's been just 10 minutes. You want to find that really good piece before you leave. I grow up with the smell of the ocean and love!!!!!!

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