thought about utilizing them in her own work until
she was asked to decorate a local boathouse.
She realized the materials in found in nature that
had been calling to her would be perfect to create
something very different. She put together a little
driftwood and a few lightning whelks, and with her
own tools, electrical wiring knowledge and a lot of
sweat she found a new calling.
“I decided to make a chandelier, as
nothing I was hanging on the walls
could really be seen because it was
so dark in there,” she
said. “As it turns out
it was very fitting
for the space, and
it still hangs there
today. It made it
through Irma and
back then it was an
open boat house, exposed
to the elements.”
Not long afterward she
offered another chandelier as an auction piece for
the Boca Grande Child Care Center’s annual
fundraiser, and after some lively bidding it fetched a
very decent price. That piece now hangs in a home
in Boca Grande Isles.
The driftwood she has collected is very
special, some would say perfect. Her eye as an artist
is extremely critical, so it takes a very unique piece
of wood to make the grade.
“Most of the wood I use is local, from around
Stump Pass and Palm Island, quite often from Boca
Grande as well,” she explained. “I’ve also collected
some black mangrove wood down in the Everglades,
which is even harder than the wood we have here.
The process of procuring the materials, cleaning
the wood and preparing the shells, making sure it will
stand up to time and that everything is balanced on
all sides, it’s not as easy as it looks.
“There are times lately, with the red tide, when I’ve
had physical withdrawals from not being on the
water, looking for driftwood,” she said. “It became
such a natural part of what I was doing, I didn’t realize
how much I would miss the hunt, and just the feeling
of being on the water in general. I’m tempted to call
the last few I’ve done my ‘Red Tide Collection,’ as
even the whelks were dead when I found the shells.
But I think things are looking up on the water, and I’ve
56GASPARILLA ISLAND November/December 2018
been doing my best to take short rides out to
find more wood ... so things are only going to get
New store, same cool art at
There’s another artist in the area who is very
acquainted with using natural wood to make art,
and that artist is Jon Hatch. Many know him from
the gallery he had on The Fishery Property since
2003, but this year he moved to a shop just next
to TnT Bait Shop in El Jobean, right on Route 41.
Jon has been an artist since he can remember.
He dabbled in sketching, watercolors and acrylics
as a young man, and went to school in Tampa for
“If you told me back then I’d be doing this now,
I would have laughed,” he said. “You come out of
school and you know you’re supposed to want
to work for a company, but I really didn’t. I don’t
conform well, it just wasn’t for me to go work for
When he completed his studies he spent a lot
of time making furniture with his father, John
Hatch, learning different aspects of carpentry and