The Grand Paver Project

Living one block from Lake Michigan, I often walk over to the beach to find glass or collect stones for my jewelry. Just like at the edges of an ocean, the beach at the lake is never the same twice.

Sometimes, I’ll find huge drifts of tumbled wood and feathers, pushed way up the shoreline. Other times, there will be mountains and mountains of smooth stones and rocks, sometimes covered with smelly algae. Or, I find long expanses of sandy beach offering up very little in the way of jewelry making supplies.

Just the other day, as the temperature rose to almost ninety degrees, I came upon the beach occupied by families, teenagers, and nannies entertaining children at the water’s edge. In fact, I found a perfect round piece of white beach glass when I saw a little boy step on it, running away from the cold water.

Lately, I have been picking up larger stones for a new idea I am pondering. I plan to make small mobiles or strands of found objects - some will feature beach glass, driftwood, capiz and other shells, and lake rocks.

The larger smooth stones are also great for a landscaping project I have been plugging away at for seven or eight years.

As part of an addition we put on the house in 2002, we added a beautiful bluestone patio. When first installed, the landscapers filled the gaps between the squares and rectangles of stone with a gritty substance that looked kind of like black, heavy-grained sand. It was supposed to harden, but only enough that it would still expand and contract with the changes in temperature throughout the year.

What it did in reality was break off in chunks and flip out of the cracks until eventually, it looked like an unkempt attempt at mortar.

One summer, I began slipping lake rocks into these crevices between the pavers – sometimes on angles if the stones were small, sometimes end to end – using whatever stones I brought home from my most recent trip to the beach.

(Desi is my nearly 12 year-old pug who keeps me constant company)

It should be noted that our beach is reachable by walking down a very steep pathway. The village paved this walk in a swirling back and forth pattern to make the incline less daunting. Even if you are in excellent physical shape, walking back up the path to the top makes your heart pound out of your chest – especially if you are carrying a heavy bag of stones!

It has taken many years to complete the patio “joints”, and now I am moving on to other areas in the garden. I’ve still got my work cut out for me along the side of the house. I think it is a beautiful and natural “grout” that brings a little bit of the lake to our yard.

This is a patio in front of the house.

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Studio in

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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