Kate Blair scours the coastline near her home in Lymington every day, accompanied by her Border terrier, Yogi, and ten-month-old daughter Winnie. Walking along Milford Beach or Hurst Spit, she collects the marine debris that has washed up onto the pebbles – pieces of colourful seaglass perhaps, bottle tops, plastic nurdles or bright neon fabric – bringing her haul back to her shed studio to sort while Winnie naps. The vibrant colours and diverse shapes of the litter captivate Kate and spark her imagination. ‘After winter storms, more debris washes up, but in summertime picnic mess is often left behind – people would be amazed if they knew their discarded BBQ skewers became part of my sculptures!’ she says, with a wry smile.
Each time Kate begins crafting a new artwork, from a nurdle collage to a driftwood wall hanging, she’s never quite sure how it will evolve. ‘Since pregnancy, everything has started changing – I’m working on bigger pieces now, such as the barn owl, and I’m excited to see where my ideas take me.’ Recently, when she had nothing to wear for a wedding she had the idea of making fascinators using her finds, creating fashion accessories that are both functional and fun. She started designing funky jewellery too: ‘I cut some spirals out of some neon I found and created cool earrings from it,’ says Kate, whose Seastuff designs are a huge departure from her previous office-based career as a PA.
When it comes to living by the ocean, she describes herself as a ‘total dolphin’. ‘I’m always swimming, bodyboarding, paddleboarding or handplaning, I just love being in the waves. I know mentally and physically it’s good for me, especially post-baby.’ Kate hopes her urge to help conserve the ocean in such an uplifting way passes on to her daughter. ‘Winnie’s face lights up when we get to the sea. She loves it when I dip her little feet into it – she is such a water baby! My young nieces love looking for multi-coloured treasure too, when we do beach cleans. I’m always blown away by how much children understand about why it matters.’ Kate has visions of offering workshops to schools, explaining: ‘The day I’m out of work would be a great day, but sadly I think it’ll be a long time before all the rubbish has gone.’
Kate specialises in crafting bright collages, sculptures, clothing and fascinators from the marine debris she collects. Prices for her artworks range from £50 to £200. Fascinators cost between £85 to £120. A percentage of her profits go to #2minutebeachclean. Kate showcases her work via her Instagram page (@seastuff_) and on her website, seastuff.co.uk, which includes the online shop for her clothing range. To get in touch or discuss a commission, email [email protected]
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