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Friday, September 18, 2009

Member Artisan Profile: Art on the Half Shell

I’m pleased to introduce Suzanne, artist/owner of Art on the Half-Shell. She has two unique lines of home accessories. First is A Dozen Oysters on the Half Shell, featuring beautifully, hand-crafted wall clocks featuring a dozen oyster shells, set like the hours, around a unique collection of dinner plates and platters. Each creation is accented with sea glass in rich hues of sapphire, emerald, ruby and gold.

Suzanne’s second is She Sells Seashells by the Seashore. Inspired by collecting shells on the beach, her wall clocks feature an oyster shell with a real pearl at the 12 o’clock hour and assorted seashells, set like the hours, around the plate rim. Smaller seashells line plate bottom like minutes.

Suzanne has been creating all her life, but says, “My work has changed over the years as one’s life changes. Originally I dabbled in fine arts, then hand-painted jewelry, frames and mirror frames. After I started a family, I began doing custom painted table and chair sets, stepstools and rocking chairs for children.”

Suzanne enjoys working with her hands whether it’s creating jewelry, painting or, she adds, “re-tiling the master bathroom in a travertine mosaic I designed and installed myself!”

When asked which is her favorite piece, she says, “Oh, that’s a hard one. I have many. One of my favorite pieces is the clock that looks like a dozen oysters on the half-shell served up on a bed of crushed ice. I’ve done a few pieces like this, but my favorite is a clock made from an over sized round platter, lined with quartz white sea glass and a hint of pale coral colored sea glass. The oyster shells are set like the hours around the platter. You can almost taste the cool salty oysters when you check the time!”

So just how did Suzanne start creating wall clocks? She explains:

“One cold evening last fall, my two daughters and I were throwing a tennis ball inside the house for our puppy. I left the room for just a moment and then heard a crash and breaking glass. Thinking the ball had hit the window, I ran into the kitchen to find my girls in tears and my FAVORITE oyster shell kitchen clock shatter I'd had the clock for almost 20 years. The old white plate and dusty oyster shells were in pieces scattered across the kitchen counter and the floor.

No one was hurt though so I said ‘Girls, we'll just have to find a new clock. No more tears.’ Well a few weeks later, we still had not been able to find a replacement, so I decided to reconstruct the broken clock. I bought a new plate, a rich sandy colored one, speckled like real beach sand. My husband drilled a hole through the center of it for the clock movement and clock hands, which had amazingly survived the crash. I glued the oyster shells back together piece by piece and re-assembled my clock complete with the Mardi Gras bead pearl at the 12 o'clock hour. It looked great, with just a few scars.

A few weeks later, my husband and I had oysters on the half-shell at one of our favorite restaurants and I brought the shells home. We cleaned them, sealed them and made another clock.

It was so much fun that we decided to make a few clocks to give to our family and friends for the holidays, which were coming up soon. We collected more oyster shells, bought new plates in different colors, shapes and sizes, and found a supplier for the clock parts. We got creative and added seashells, sea glass, real pearls, and even beach sand. After the holidays I started getting requests for more clocks and thus our little business began - ART ON THE HALF-SHELL! We've made and sold over 50 clocks now and are thrilled to be joining the artists at Handmade Louisiana!”

Suzanne’s favorite aspect is “finding and creating the personality in each clock. No two oyster shells are the same. They range in color, texture and size.”

The biggest obstacle to her art is safety when using the oyster shucking tool. As Suzanne puts it, “Oyster shucking can be a dangerous job.”

Suzanne’s advice for other sellers is, “love your work when it’s finished! If it’s not right yet, work on it some more. It shows in the end.”

Although, she’s not currently living in Louisiana, her connection runs deep: “I’m a New Orleans native and have only been gone from the city for four years now. My husband’s career has taken us temporarily away, but we go back several times a year to visit friends and family.”

What’s next for Art on the Half Shell? Suzanne explains, “since moving to Monterey County I have discovered Abalone Shells. They have beautiful iridescent mother of pearl insides and I am working on a new series of clocks using abalone shells from the local abalone farm in Monterey.”

Suzanne’s work can be found on Etsy -- http://www.sfweichert.etsy.com/ , on Artfire -- http://www.sfweichert.artfire.com/ , and on Ebay.


  1. Great work Suzanne! I enjoyed reading about you.

  2. That is a great clock - what fun!! Nice interview.

  3. Fascinating and unique pieces! wonderful article!

  4. Suzanne WOW! They are amazing! Creativity born out of necessity huh? Just imagine what you might be doing if the girls had not broken that clock. :)

  5. Love those clocks, Suzanne! Congrats on getting in the TP!


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