After purchasing some of our glass, a well-travelled friend boldly said, “I have a project for you,” and left. When next we saw her, she handed us a plump plastic bag and said, “Can you do something with this?”
Inside the bag was this lovely nautilus shell that she had found on the beach in Figi in the late 1990’s. Although imperfect and wrapped in assurances that anything we did would be fine, it was a daunting challenge to appropriately memorialize her adventure.
Since 2018 the chambered nautilus has been protected by the Endangered Species Act, since it was threatened with extinction due to overharvesting for the shell trade. Knowing that this shell couldn’t be replaced made this a real adventure challenge.
We began with the theory that we would not physically attach anything to the nautilus, so it would not be damaged. In order to see it as a presentation piece, we decided it needed a stand. Earlier in the year, we had cut down an ornamental cherry tree in our yard and saved the wonderfully cylindrical trunk for some unknown use. The time had come to use it.
We asked a woodworker friend to cut a slice out of the trunk for the stand and then use his tools to create a ‘resting space’ for the shell that would keep it upright. Once that was done, we had to determine the best way to add glass to the project. Fragility and strength were concerns, but then we hit on the common denominator – curves.
Curves of the shell combined with the circle of the tree trunk. The remaining element was the curves of the ocean waves where the nautilus lived. These waves on both sides are supported by more glass that nestles up to the shell to help keep it in place with no glue or connectors of any kind. This also allows the whole art piece to be easily disassembled any time it needs to be moved.