Jeweler delights in search for frosted bits

Lisa Hall uses a soldering torch to help create one of her handmade sea glass bracelets inside her Northeast Harbor shop. Hall has been collecting sea glass since she was young and living on Little Cranberry. PHOTO BY MADALYNE BIRD

Lisa Hall’s sea glass jewelry business was born from a childhood of collecting.

“I grew up on Little Cranberry [Island] in the summers and always picked [sea glass] up and saved it and did craft projects with it,” Hall said. “I would glue it together and make jewelry even when I was little.”

Hall, who is originally from Scituate, Mass., graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and formally trained in jewelry-making in Florence, Italy.

“So when I moved back from Italy, I moved up here and then just started working with [sea glass] in a more sophisticated way with what I had learned in Italy,” Hall said. “That’s when I formally started.”

Hall originally had a store on Great Cranberry Island, but 12 years ago decided to move it to Northeast Harbor. Her shop began with a focus on sea glass, but expanded to include Hall’s Renaissance collection, which is inspired by medieval, Byzantine and Gothic art. Because the back of the shop serves as a workspace, visitors often can see firsthand pieces being created.

For decades, jewelry Lisa Hall has collected sea glass from beaches in the Cranberry Isles.  PHOTO BY MADALYNE BIRD

For decades, jewelry Lisa Hall has collected sea glass from beaches in the Cranberry Isles.

Although most of her time is spent in the shop/studio, Hall still combs beaches for the frosted green, blue and brown broken bits tumbled naturally by the ocean. But much change has arisen since her childhood days. Fewer bottles are tossed in the sea — hence less sea glass to be discovered.

“Everybody is picking it up and everybody is recycling,” Hall said. “I mainly look on Great Cranberry and Little Cranberry. They both have good stuff. It’s really good to look in the winter after a storm or on foggy days…it shows up better.”

Hall also has traveled to Northern California, Puerto Rico and other beaches in search of glass. But she says she still has “boxes and boxes of stuff” from when she was growing up.

“It’s all sort of mixed together, but I’d say a lot of it is mostly from these islands,” Hall said.

Hall, who does custom pieces, has had people bring her pieces from all over the world.

“People will bring me stuff from their trips and then I will make it into jewelry for them,” she said. “It’s cool to see that, and people bring stuff from Africa and Japan…I used to just think it was something that happened in Maine, but then you learn that people have littered everywhere so there’s going to be stuff everywhere.”

But what Hall enjoys most about her work is the natural process by which glass is worn down and shaped by the sea, and the stories conjured up by the singular pieces.

“I love the magic that happens by litter being thrown on the beach and it makes these beautiful shapes and textures and I love putting the colors together,” she explained. “…Seeing the cool things that can happen through the waves and the way it broke and the way it gets tumbled and thinking about what it used to be and how it got there.

“You find weird things like beads or buttons or little bottle-stoppers and they’re very old and you wonder how they got there,” the jeweler continued. “You find little china dolls and marbles and there’s always a story behind how it got on the beach, so I do love that part of it. It sort of starts with the influence of people but then gets completely finished by nature.”

Lisa Hall Jewelry
Where: 8 Summit Road, Northeast Harbor
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 276-5900, www.lisahalljewelry.com

Sea Glass Secrets
Camden author C. S. Lambert may be the world’s best known expert on sea glass. Over two decades, the journalist has combed the shores of five continents for worn, colorful shards of glass as well as pottery. Learn more about the ocean-tossed, colorful bits and how to find them in any one of her three books “Sea Glass Chronicles: Whispers from the Past,” “A Passion for Sea Glass,” “Sea Glass Crafts” and “Sea Glass Hunter’s Handbook.”

Kansas City native Madalyne Bird was a 2014 summer intern for the Ellsworth American working primarily for the paper's summer guide to Downeast Maine, Out and About.