Island artist puts a little sand in the season with these handmade ornaments
Artist Carol Jenkins came to Galveston in 2004 by way of Lansing, Mich. and Dallas. Her daughter was attending Texas A&M University at Galveston, and after a few visits, Jenkins was hooked.
“Growing up around the Great Lakes made me totally miss the water, so, I was quite happy when I saw the Gulf of Mexico,” Jenkins said.
It didn’t take her long to pack her bags and move farther south.
Studying art in high school and junior college paved the way for jewelry making, pen and ink drawings, painting and her favorite pastime — sewing. Coming from a long line of seamstresses, Jenkins was making her own clothes long before she entered junior high school.
It was during a trip to Key West a few years ago that she got the idea to make coastal Christmas ornaments.
She thought: “Hey, I can do this sort of thing in Galveston.” And so she did.
She began painting coastal scenes on glass ornaments — everything from palm trees, lighthouses, marine life, mermaids and even snowflakes — using acrylic paint.
“For some reason, everyone wants a snowflake, even on something tropical,” she said.
Ornaments come in various shapes — square, round and teardrop — but most customers prefer the square ones.
Jenkins uses only Galveston beach sand and shells inside the glass bulbs.
Her Sand Dragon Creations line taken from her maiden name, Derragon, has become a big business for Jenkins, who also creates small Adirondack chairs containing tiny beach towels, seashells, flip-flops, sunglasses and Christmas stockings.
“I find the smaller pieces at local craft stores,” Jenkins said. “Even if I’m on vacation, I always make it a point to visit fabric and craft shops, searching for something new.”
It takes her about an hour to finish an ornament, but the chairs are the most difficult to complete, she said.
“I paint the chairs white, then have to wait for them to dry, add the colored stripes, coat the seashells with glaze, and cut fabric to make the small beach towels,” said Jenkins, who uses washcloths, kitchen towels and anything with a ribbed texture. If the material has colorful stripes, all the better, she said.
Always inventing, Jenkins is trying something new this year by rolling a small round glass ornament in beach sand, letting it dry and then drawing a coastal figure on its surface with India ink.
Sand is just not sand, however, Jenkins cautions. Oyster shells give Galveston sand a calcium base. Key West sand is powdery, and the sand on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan is pulverized granite. Most sand will do well inside an ornament, but coating is a different story. Jenkins has determined that Galveston sand will do just fine.
Jenkins also has ornaments available for sports fans. She makes beach chairs for Texas A&M University, University of Texas, Louisiana State University, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints fans.
Her ornaments will be available for sale at Affaire d’Art Gifts and Gallery store, 2317 Strand in Galveston, through December and at the Galveston Island Market, 22nd and Mechanic streets, on Dec. 19.