Clayhead Beach on Block Island is probably my favorite beach. This past winter, storms and currents deposited extra sand on the shoreline. The stretch of sand along Clayhead has always been sensational, and now is better than ever. The large rocks just off the beach create amazing tidal pools. These pools capture hermit crabs, periwinkles, starfish, and this year I even saw a sea urchin for the first time. The pools are a big draw for beachcombers, young and old.
Seaweed is abundant on Block Island and grows in these pools. In the past it was farmed and sold. While I was researching the seaweed, I found this article about a present day forager of seaweed. You can read the article here: Seaweed Forager – Jen Lighty
Here are some photographs of the seaweed on the island.
I especially loved the look of the frondy seaweed in the picture above and decided to try to press it. Luckily, I had thought ahead and brought a few books for pressing along with me. I gathered up a cupful of the seaweed then soaked it in fresh water, changing the water several times. I then spread the clean seaweed on several layers of newspaper and left it in the sun. Within a matter of hours the seaweed had lost all moisture, but unfortunately was also rock hard. To press it in this brittle condition would have shattered it. I decided it was an impossible task. Happily, I didn’t throw it out right away, but forgot and left the hardened seaweed on the balcony overnight.
Hooray! Thank goodness for my occasional absent-mindedness. During the night the seaweed reabsorbed a bit of moisture from the dew and fog. It was not wet, but only sticky and damp, and a bit pliable. I put it between the pages of my book and in a few days it was hardened again, but now perfectly flat.
The dried and pressed seaweed held on to a bit of its pink color, but all the greens and whites faded out or darkened into browns and tan. The pieces, even though pressed, are still fairly thick. I don’t think I can use it in my usual greeting card artwork. One idea I have thought of is to use it as a stencil in my painting. I also could apply paint with a brush and use the pressed seaweed as a stamp. Any ideas for me? Please leave a comment. I’d love to get some input on how to use it.