Sea Creatures

Underwater, life is never boring. A recent article by the BBC notes a search for new antibiotics on the bottom of the sea bed. We’re taking a slightly more superficial approach and looking at how the imperfect surfaces of sea creatures inspire sculptors, photographers, and jewelry designers.

• Nuala O’Donovan’s Teasel series is based on the form of the prickly plant, taking the smallest component and exploring its subtle variations. Her work reflects how plants in nature balance regular and irregular patterns, a flexibility that allows them to evolve.

• Alexander Semenov’s Sea of Japan series captures the regular irregularity of underwater creatures, reminders that nature is more creative than any artist.

• Robin Charlotte’s Urchin Garden is a set of three pots with air plants, which just need a bit of water and sunlight.

• Licky Drake’s Ring is made of reclaimed silver, polished and oxidized to resemble the body of a starfish.

• Haley Holeman’s Ring looks like it’s been plucked from the sea, with spikes and an urchin-like surface.

• Nafsika’s Ring is made using the lost wax technique to resemble a sea urchin.

• Roberta Polfus’ Salt Shaker Set is made of porcelain carved in a fluid, organic shape and covered with a delicate blue glaze.

• Sandra Lance’s Bowl was created after a small sea urchin in shades of pink and purple.

• Victoria Silvera’s Tea Set includes a teapot and cups that have a delicately textured surface, like a pearly-white sea urchin.

• Sonia Imbeault’s Ring was created by making a mold from a sea urchin found on the beaches of Quebec and casting it in sterling silver.

Ebb & Flow

• Tamsin van Essen’s Erosion series of sculptures are experiments in negative space that explore the the beauty of uneven, eroded surfaces. Sandblasting pieces of porcelain reveals inner layers of black and white rivulets.

• The Moschino Spring 2013 Collection channeled the swinging sixties with short skirts, stripes, and bold graphic prints.

• Edmond’s WC-004 is an abstract watercolor painting with spindly pencil lines running throughout.

• Lisa’s Pendant is a stylized wilted flower made of winding strips of silver.

• Leili’s Dish looks like you are holding a stars in your palm, with a cluster of tiny white dots on a delicate, black stoneware surface.

• Marianne’s Pinch Pot has an uneven edge and pearl-grey color that resembles a porous shell collected on the beach.

• Coyle’s Organic Entanglement is a limestone lithograph that suggests the ebb and flow of the sea.

• Ross’ Ceramic Necklace suspends seven black stoneware beads, one of which has a brush of white underglaze, from a hemp cord.

Rivers of Ink

• Tamsin van Essen’s Erosion series of porcelain sculptures destabilizes the pristine material with rivers of black threads that appear to drip incisively into its surface.

• Diana’s Vase gets its organic, irregular shape from layers of small coils, smoothed on the outside and finished with a black and speckled white glaze.

• The complex structure of this Bracelet by Nervous System was created using interactive software and built with 3D laser printing.

• Eden’s Cheval is a black-and-white ink wash painting that resembles a mountain range on a rainy day.

• Ohgushi’s Floating series makes ink in water look like spontaneous brushstrokes.

• Morgan’s Journal has an exposed spine which allows it to lay flat.

• Natasha’s Porcelain Bowl has a hand-painted pattern of black seeds making up an abstract design on its white surface.

• Keith’s River Abstraction is a photograph of light hitting turbulent water, but it also looks like tree bark or ink in water.


• Kate Macdowell’s Daphne shatters in the process of transformation, and denies Bernini’s attempt at fixing her mutable form in sculpture. Nature, her world of refuge, has suffered its own transformation into a depleted ecosystem with fewer opportunities of revival.

• Annie’s Cuff is made of sterling silver with a shatter print patina.

• Ayman’s Abstract Ink Drawing is a surrealist landscape of dismantled planes, inspired by the chaotic nature of Beirut.

• Norihiko Terayama’s series Twotoo mirrors the practice of sixteenth-century tea masters, who valued a cracked tea bowl for its imperfect beauty. Some even went so far as to shatter cups and glue them back together to make the cracks look “accidental.”

• Anthony’s photograph of Broken Windows balances between a precise grid and abstract silhouettes of black against white.

• These Glasses by Rock on a Lens take edgy eyewear to a new level with frames made out of bits of shattered mirror.

Flower Press

• Daniel Brown’s Decode is a digital bouquet of flowers displayed as a three-story high projection in the atrium of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The patterns on the petals bear the imprint of images from the museum’s collection, including William Morris textiles and Kimono fabrics.

• This Vogue editorial is a decorative porcelain vase in human form.

• In his Fragility of Time series, Spanish artist Ignacio Canales Aracil brings the art of pressed flowers out of grandma’s scrapbook and into contemporary sculpture. After the flowers press and dry out for a month, each structure is held up by the flowers and stems alone. Imagine having tea under one of these flower domes.

• Shirley’s Plains Horsemint was collected in Texas Hill Country, dried, and mounted on high-quality archival paper.

• Oona’s Dead Tulip is a watercolor and pencil drawing that plays with the relationship between line and light.

• May’s Dried Chrysanthemum layers washes of moss green, copper, and pale violet watercolor.

• Luli’s Floral Collage is an eclectic bouquet of pressed flowers, leaves, sequins, lace, and feathers.

• Jolanda’s Holiday Floral Arrangement combines preserved white roses, hydrangeas, dried poppy pods, and gold ornaments for the perfect centerpiece that lasts the whole season.

• This Plant Press by AK Laser allows you to press your own plants in a stylish kit made from maple wood.


• At first glance, Michael Grab’s Rock Balance sculptures appear to challenge the very idea of equilibrium. They’re constructed with nothing but a few rocks and a deep understanding of their texture, weight, and orientation relative to other rocks. The absolute focus and self confidence required to balance rocks creates a meditative practice, and you can catch a glimpse of how Michael works in this video.

• Giuseppe Randazzo’s Stone Fields are virtual stones arranged by a computational method of fractals and code.

• Mitsuru Koga finds stones along the seashore and polishes them into vases and small sculptures reminiscent of Brancusi’s work.

• Colby’s Pebble Ring is a sterling silver band inspired by pebbles smoothed in the rivers of the Rocky Mountains.

• Emily’s Deep Cove Ring is made of sterling silver and cast from a real pebble.

• Laëtitia’s Pillow is a large, soft pebble made from grey and cream wool.

• Polina’s Earrings wrap silver strands around black polymer clay.

• Stacy’s Ring frames a grey stone in silver. (Be sure to look at the photograph of the beach where the stone came from.)

• Sarah’s Acadia Necklace wraps a beach stone in fine, twisting strands of silver.


• Karen MccGwire’s Gag is a tight coil of black crow feathers that dwells in an antique museum cabinet. The crow is a prophetic voice in mythology. Apollo’s white crow told him that one of his lovers was having an affair and the angry god turned its feathers black. Gag embodies the punishment and silencing of the crow as prophet.

• Haider Ackermann’s Spring 2013 Collection created a sumptuous, understated palette of charcoal, brown, and dark navy.

• Amy’s Gulf Bird layers paper feathers stained with coffee, a reflection on the effect of the Gulf oil spill on wildlife.

• Sal’s Feather Earrings suspend sleek, jet black feathers from sterling silver stems.

• Stasia’s Ring is a thick band of sterling silver that has been hammered with tiny feathers.

• Sabrina’s Necklace is a feather hand-cut from black leather.

Jason and Andie’s Edible Feathers are made with fair trade chocolate and raw cacao.

•  Michelle’s Blackbird Journal has distressed wood covers and a black-and-white feather on the front.


• Kate MccGwire’s Crave hides a surreal dream behind its simple, symmetrical form. White pigeon feathers form a tight serpentine coil, isolated by an antique dome that denies their craving for flight.

• Haider Ackermann’s Spring 2013 Collection included pieces that appear made of ribbons of white fabric just about to fall off the body.

• Susie’s Rift is a featherscape, a photograph of a gull’s feathers in such crisp detail that it could depict vast expanses of land taken from above.

• Lesley’s Fight or Flight is a sculpture made of white feathers, perhaps what would happen if MccGwire’s Crave uncoiled.

• Kelly’s Feather Architecture is one piece of bristol vellum that has been cut into a string of meandering feathers.

• Tatiana’s Shrug forms luscious layers of ivory feathers.

• These Earrings by AyaPapaya suspend long feather-like strands from brass wires.

• Matthew Bourne’s production of Swan Lake ruffled the feathers of the original ballet by creating a male cast of swans. 

White Crest Falling

• Noriko Ambe’s Piece of Flat Globe is neither flat nor round. Thousands of sheets of paper, cut by hand, create cliffs that look like they’ve been forming for centuries.

• The Balmain Spring 2013 Collection turned basket weaving and white lace into couture.

• Ray’s Chawan Tea Bowl builds up subtle layers of glazes, from dark brown to pearly white.

• Svetlana’s Pillow Case is made of off-white faux fur.

• Christiane’s Dessert Plates have unique lace imprints on the bottom that look like starfish.

• Sipho’s White Koi are folded from single sheets of paper and come with a hanging mechanism that floats them in mid-air.

White on White

• Noriko Ambe’s Linear-Cuttings Action Project creates a topography of cutting paper. Ambe stacks single sheets into landscapes that document a slow and deliberate process which has no directions or final destinations. Layer by layer, the parts accumulate into tributes to the imprecise, trembling hand.

• The Balmain Spring 2013 Collection took inspiration from the black-and-white tiles and wicker chairs found in Cuba for woven white-on-white dresses.

• Zaha Hadid’s new Galaxy complex in Beijing resembles a futuristic space station and yet has an organic and unpredictable shape that invites movement.

• Leili’s Dapple Divot Bowl has an intricately carved surface that looks like rippling water.

• Joanna’s Fruit Bowl has white-on-white textured polkadots and a gently curving rim.

• Michelle Twohig’s photograph of a Horse’s Mane zooms in on the fine white hairs creating a whirling pattern on its neck.