Kim Naylor's Fishing Floats

Author: Reflecting Spirit
Posted: Tuesday October 18th, 2016 @ 11:37am

Kim Naylor's Fishing Floats

Glass Fishing Float

                Photo by Kim Naylor


There is something about the ocean, which compels and fascinates. It is both loved and feared. It can be fierce and stormy but also serene, warm and inviting. It is a great mystery in itself. Throughout time, the oceans have given birth to many myths and legends. And after big storms, treasures are sometimes washed up onto the shore waiting to be discovered. I am not talking about pirate chests full of gold, but rather objects that fascinate beachcombers, artists and collectors; the hand blown glass fishing floats.


Collected for their beauty, history and journey, glass fishing floats are one of the rarest, most coveted beachcomb finds. They were first produced in Norway around 1840, in Japan around 1910 and were also intensively used throughout much of Europe, Russia and North America between 1940 and 1980. Ranging from 1.5 to 20 inches in diameter, the glass floats were used to buoy the vast webs of commercial fishing nets all over the Pacific Ocean. Although they have since been replaced by aluminum, plastic, or Styrofoam floats, most of the original ones remain stuck in a circular pattern in the ocean currents of the North Pacific and this is where they will remain until a storm sets them free and brings them to shore.


Handmade by a gAuthentic Fishing Floatlassblower, recycled glass was typically used to make the vintage glass fishing floats. They characteristically have a plug or button of glass at the bottom to fill the hole left by the blowpipe used during the turning and blowing process of the glass. The fishing floats are usually round, but occasionally cylindrical floats shaped like rolling pins and dual floats were made. Most of them are shades of blue or sea-green, the color of recycled bottles; others are clear, amber, aquamarine, amethyst, blue, cranberry, purple, yellow and orange. The most prized are the red floats, as a small amount of gold in the glass was needed to create the colour, only rarely were they produced. When beachcombing, the beauty and the colours of these unique spheres truly stand out from the landscape when the sun shines through the glass as they hide above the tideline among the pieces of driftwood, the high grass or while tangled in shore-washed kelp. Finding one of these glowing treasures along the beach brings a sense of wonder to whoever finds them and this feeling is part of the fascination collectors and beachcombers have for them.


Kim NaylorGrowing up in a family of fishermen in Prince Rupert, on the north coast of British Columbia, artist Kim Naylor has always been attracted to the beauty and mystery of the glass fishing floats that embellished her grandparent’s house. It is then not surprising to see how this artist transforms the floats that fascinated her as a child into unique decorative floats, bowls, candleholders and jewellery pieces. Last week, I had the chance to interview Kim and asking her about the beginning of her artistic career; she told me: “Everything started one day, when my grandmother asked me if I could repair one of my grandfather's lavender floats. I used stained glass technique to put the pieces back together and give a new life to the broken float”.


 Working with genuine glass fishing floats found on a beach or plucked from the sea, Kim creates her unique art pieces by breaking the float in several pieces and putting them back together using a stain glass technique. This is done by applying a strip of foil to each piece and folding over the edges onto the front and back sides of the glass - this is called crimping.  After pressing and sealing the tape firmly against both sides of the glass, the pieces are soldered back together by heating an alloy composed of tin and lead. Kim then embellishes her sculpture with shells, stones or bull kelp, and a signature silver starfish is added to create a unique piece of art.


 Because the floats are so old and so rare, Kim reuses every piece, leaving nothing behind. The pieces of glass floats that were not used in one of her sculptures are tumbled in sand from Qualicum beach and water from the ocean. Consistently tumbling the glass pieces over a two weeks period until the sharp edges are smoothed and rounded will transform the discarded pieces of glass floats into beautiful sea glass, then worked into unique pieces of jewellery. Talking about her process, Kim shares how the accidental and the element of surprise plays a big part in her creations. “Because I break the glass floats with a hammer, I never know what I am going to get. I don’t have control over how the glass breaks, and this is part of what I like about it. The same thing happens when I put the pieces of glass in the tumbler, I have to wait and see how it all comes out. There are never two glass pieces that are the same and this makes this process all more beautiful.”


 sea glass jewelryThrough her intervention of breaking, adding and subtracting elements from the glass fishing float, Kim strips the original object of its purpose and gives it a new life. Every creation is unique and inspired by the ocean as well as the artist’s personal experiences. As a self-taught artist, Kim took something that only started as a hobby and turned it into a beautiful artistic career. Initially focusing on her sculptural work, she didn’t make jewellery until the early 1990’s. Until then she saved all the discarded pieces of glass knowing one day, they would bring her the inspiration to create something unique. During our interview, Kim told me how she has a very supportive husband who, a few years ago, transformed their old garden shed, behind their house in Errington, into an art studio. “I wouldn’t have the freedom I do if I didn’t have this creative space he built for me; I am very grateful.”


 Kim NaylorThe name Keeping Afloat, that Kim works under, refers to how the islands of fishing nets are kept afloat on the surface of the ocean by the means of the glass fishing float she uses in her creations. After talking with the artist behind this name, I realized how it is also synonym of transformation and rebirth; the transformation of an empty space into a devoted one, the transformation of a hobby into an artistic career and finally, the transformation of a forgotten object into a memorable art piece.



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An Interview with surf artist Becky Luth

Author: Reflecting Spirit
Posted: Friday August 5th, 2016 @ 3:32pm

An Interview with surf artist Becky Luth


Reflecting Spirit Gallery has rencently had the pleasure of interviewing the talented surf artist Becky Luth about her work and  her artistic passion. “Most of her art is related to the ocean and has been inspired by her travels and experiences surfing, diving, snorkeling and exploring the beaches and tide pools.”


Meet Becky Luth!


Q:  Tell us about your background; where are you from; where do you currently live?