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Last summer, Sue and I were on a family trip to northwest Michigan.  We were touring around the area looking for art galleries and other interesting places, when we stumbled on an antique store in Empire that had a basket full of these odd aluminum thingies.  Immediately, I was taken back to summers of my childhood, where we would find these things along the Lake Michigan beach.  Back in the early and mid twentieth century, fishermen on the Great Lakes used these floats as part of their nasty gill net operations.  I think at some point gill nets were outlawed, but native americans were exempt from this and continued using them for a while.

After that initial childhood memory faded, I immediately saw the potential for these to make some really cool jewelry.  The fact that these were at least 50 years old and had some really interesting nicks and grooves made them all the more appealing.  Once we got back to the studio, I began cutting the first one up into various shapes - and assembled them into earrings for the retail shops and for gifts.  With a quick filing of the edges and some attention from a wire brush, the individual pieces had a bit of shine but still had all the diverse pockmarks and scratches.
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Here is a sample design I came up with.  I have also made pairs that are larger curved triangles that used one of the ends and thinner, curved pieces of a slice of the float.  I have a lot of other ideas for future projects.

While these floats were used in barbaric gill net fishing operations on Lake Michigan, I am comfortable with the fact that these earrings can still probably be considered "vegan" - since the floats can no longer be used to catch fish.

If you are interested in a pair like this - just let me know.  You can also see more earrings from the "gill net float" series at our galleries.

 


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