Danielle Ferrantino models some of her pieces.

Danielle Ferrantino models some of her pieces.

Image: Barbara Banks

Most of us have jars, bowls and shelves filled with beachy mementos like sand, sea glass, shells and driftwood, whether we’re first-time visitors or longtime residents. But Danielle Ferrantino of Driftheory takes these precious little gifts from the shore a step further, offering classes in jewelry-making from natural materials you can find on the beach and then artfully sealing them in resin.

I tried a class at South Lido Beach Park. When I arrived, Ferrantino had Driftheory’s display set up like she would at one of three local farmers' markets she attends each week. Each student gets a place setting decorated with a bohemian theme—tassels, burlap bags with personalized nametags and a workstation to mix the resin. Ferrantino’s free-spirited personality shines through in her hospitality, as she offers snacks and drinks and plays relaxing music. Classes are private for groups up to 10, and she teaches an even mix of tourists and townies of all ages.

Beach-inspired earrings

Beach-inspired earrings

The class begins with a silicone mold and four paper cups: one for clear resin, one for glitter, one for color mica and a fourth for white mica. We were making Christmas ornaments in this class. She told us to mix each material with a bit of resin, squeeze it into a syringe and then squirt layer by layer into a circular silicone mold. The molds were about three inches in diameter, but the ones she uses for making jewelry are typically smaller and come in other shapes, like teardrop. You can schedule a class to make any kind of jewelry you’d like. Once the layers are halfway set, Ferrantino gave us 30 minutes to scavenge the beach for natural treasures.

Along my beach walk, I found little seashells in various shapes, small purple flowers growing in the brush and dried seaweed along the shore. I took a moment to breathe deep and watch the waves roll in. I understood why Ferrantino enjoyed this part of the process most.

As we returned with our findings, we delicately placed them in whatever way we desired into the tacky resin. Then Ferrantino took the ornaments home to let them dry for about 24 hours.

Ferrantino met me at a Starbucks a few days later to give me my ornament. It was shiny and looked just like I wanted, with shells, seaweed and wildflowers floating in what looked like a deep violet ocean. It will be a highlight piece on my Christmas tree this holiday season. Later, I can put it on my coffee table in place of the lonely shell or dried flower I usually leave there.

“People can also bring me items they’d like set in resin and I can turn it into jewelry or an ornament,” says Ferrantino. She’s had requests like a loved one’s ashes, a shell or feather from the location where a couple got engaged, or strands of hair from a child’s first haircut. “This is something I enjoy the most,” says Ferrantino. “They have that moment for a lifetime.”

A student works on her ornament.

A student works on her ornament.

Driftheory is a happy business, says Ferrantino: “People want to preserve their trip in some way. They love Sarasota so much and want something to reflect that love.”

If you would like to take a class, or place a custom order, go to driftheory.com to book one. Classes range in cost from $50 to $75 per person depending on location and experience. You can also find Driftheory on Etsy and at local boutiques.

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