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Sea Weaves

Sea Weaves by Karen Wade

Karen was raised in beautiful Powell River, BC and has lived on the East Coast of Vancouver Island for the past 30 yrs. She has a background in Environmental Science and enjoyed a career doing both Fisheries and Forestry work all over the BC Coast. Now retired, she actively volunteers year-round with salmon enhancement, coastal cleanup, eelgrass restoration and takes on aquatic health science-related contracts.

She is anew artist and started working with bull kelp about 5 years ago. Every summer, bull kelp washes ashore onto our local beaches and then naturally biodegrades. It’s comprised of 90% water when it washes ashore. If you’re lucky, you might find a piece of kelp above the tide line already dried by the sun! She does not ever pick living kelp out of the ocean. Kelp ‘forests’ are an integral part of our ocean ecosystem and have enough problems already from sea urchins chewing the stems off, or power boaters snagging and tearing them off the ocean floor. Collecting the kelp off the beach is the easy part! Scouring tide lines while taking in our stunning scenery and coastline is absolute heaven! Then the real work begins getting the kelp to a stage to weave. After many failed attempts to weave with bull kelp, much of it ended up in the garden as fertilizer! Bull kelp is a very strong medium to weave with but can be very challenging to dry properly and maintain its shape. As a result,  she never really know what the end product will look like. It’s a seasonal art for Karen as she gets the best results in summer months. She is fortunate to be surrounded by talented artists and friends to keep her inspired to continue working with this beautiful seaweed called bull kelp.

Bull kelp baskets should be kept indoors where they will thrive for years. Kelp baskets should NOT be kept outside, as the outdoor humidity will compromise the integrity of the basket. Any fine white salt on the kelp basket is kelp salt - kelp salt leaches out of the kelp during the drying process.