An Ode to Lake Michigan: Artist Uses Sea Glass Found on Local Beaches to Make Jewelry | Local news

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DIANA PANUNCIAL

ROOT – Like any kid who grew up in the Midwest near Lake Michigan, Racine native Blythe Haney loved to go see the water. But as a teenager, she made her travels more interesting by collecting pieces of sea glass that she would find near the shore.

A boyfriend from high school once showed him sea glass at a place he often went fishing, “and I was like ‘Wow’. Since then I have started to collect… even as I got my family to start collecting together.

“It’s a fun, calming little hobby,” Haney said. After a while the family would have jars and jars full of sea glass; It didn’t take long for her to realize that she wanted to start making things with sea glass in order to get creative and get rid of part of her collection.






Blythe Haney, left, at the beach with her father a few years ago.


Submitted photo


So Haney started making jewelry and selling pieces at craft fairs in 2015 through his company, ByBlythe. She later opened a store on Etsy, a website where artists can sell items online. In 2019, she won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Artist at the Racine Art Guild Hungry Artists Fair 2019.

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Haney’s jewelry is also currently on sale at the Racine Heritage Museum, 701 Main St.

Find sea glass

In Racine County, Haney’s favorite places to hunt seaglass are Samuel Myers Park near Gateway Technical College, Carre-Hogle Park near 16th and 18th Streets, and North Beach near Racine Zoo.

The most common colors Haney said she finds are clear, green, and brown. “Back then, almost everything was in glass jars – medicine bottles, perfume bottles, all that stuff. “






A necklace

Blythe Haney shows off a wire necklace she made from sea glass.


DIANA PANUNCIAL


Haney enjoys collecting rare colors and pieces, some of which are not even necessarily sea glass.

“The rarer colors – pinks, reds, oranges – are the funniest to find. Mainly because you can think of the kind of history he’s had, ”she said.

On her Instagram, Haney posted pieces of pottery and glass she found from parts of the world near and far. For example, she found a fragment of a plate made in England in the 1980s; on the other hand, she found a piece of butter jar from a Kaukauna cheese factory.






english pottery

Blythe Haney also found a piece of a plate made in England in the 1980s.


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Kaukauna Klub

Blythe Haney shows a piece of pottery she found that originally belonged to Kaukauna Dairy Co.


Blythe haney


Spring is her favorite time to hunt sea glass, she said. “Especially just when the snow is melting, because everything is hidden underneath… Good storms are going to really move the sand, the waves are going to bring things up to the shore… It’s interesting to go out and all of a sudden it there are plenty of pretty ones that I’m sure I wasn’t there the day before.

Use social networks

Haney started out making necklaces and has since expanded to include wire jewelry, bracelets, rings, and earrings. Her Etsy store has had over 300 sales and she is an active member of the Twitter art community, which is made up of diverse artists who share, exchange and promote each other’s art.

“It’s fun to interact with other artists,” Haney said.

When she started her small business, social media wasn’t such an important marketing tool. According to Statista, in large companies, 92% of marketers were expected to use social media as a marketing tool in 2021.

In 2018, 77% of small businesses were also using social media as a marketing tool – that number has grown over the years.






Pottery

Blythe Haney shows jewelry she made from pottery also found in Lake Michigan. She said that with sea glass, pieces of porcelain and other artifacts were found.


DIANA PANUNCIAL


Although Haney graduated from college in graphic design, her day job is that of a social media specialist, and she uses these tools both in her formal workplace and in her small business.

As of 2020, Etsy has approximately 4.5 million sellers; in a huge market, Haney likes to keep things personal for his clients.

“Sea glass jewelry isn’t super, super popular, but I think that’s what attracts people. I like to market to the people in that area, the people who have connections to Lake Michigan, because they’re all straight from Lake Michigan, ”she said. “This area is sentimental to some people.”

Family support

Haney has three younger sisters and they support each other when it comes to art projects.

For example, Paige Haney – the sister born just after Blythe – crocheted, painted and sketched portraits. Next youngest Chloe Haney is a cosmetologist. The youngest, Brighton Haney, has another 18 months to graduate from ballet school.






with his sister

Chloe Haney, left, helps her older sister Blythe Haney run a craft fair.


Submitted photo


Although Paige only sells her art to close friends, she feels motivated by Blythe to someday start her own small business.

“Seeing Blythe and how far she’s taken her hobby, seeing her work so hard… it’s inspiring to see how far she’s come,” Paige said.

Paige said that she and Chloe often sit and help run Blythe’s booth while she was at craft fairs. “I never see her at work, so I was taken aback. It made me think, “I want to be like her”.

Elle Maru has written and illustrated two books since graduating from Carthage College this summer, but didn’t think she would become an artist.

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