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Made from mountains

  • Local artists draw inspiration from local stones. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Local artists draw inspiration from local stones. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Cara Nicholl of Temple draws inspiration from the surrounding landscape with her jewelry made from local sand and soil. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Jocelyn Brown of Peterborough, a glass artist at Terrapin Glass in Jaffrey, works in the studio.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Terrapin Glass pendants made with local granite reflect New Hampshire’s landscapes. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Local artists draw inspiration from local stones. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Local artists draw inspiration from local stones. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Local artists draw inspiration from local stones. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Local artists draw inspiration from local stones. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Local artists draw inspiration from local stones. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Local artists draw inspiration from local stones. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 20, 2017 6:15PM

Cara Nicholl once dreamed of living in Nepal. But the limitations placed on her by a chronic illness forced her to put that dream aside. But she still carries a piece of Nepal with her – quite literally, with jewelry made from Nepal sand.

It was shortly after her diagnosis of interstitial cystitis – a chronic and incurable bladder inflammation – that Nicholl started her business, Baluva (The Nepali word for sand) from her Temple home. She takes sand or soil from places that have meaning to her customers, mixed with a bonding agent to create beads for jewelry or rosaries. 

She was first inspired, she said, by a commemorative tennis ball container of sand from her summers as a child on the beaches of Cape Cod. It had been given to her as a Christmas gift by her grandmother.

“I guess she could see the future,” said Nicholl. 

The sand had sat, unused, in her closet for years, said Nicholl, before she stumbled across it and came up with the idea to work it into something she could incorporate into her everyday life. 

But the idea struck a chord with her, said Nicholl, and after making her first pieces, she was off and running, pouring her artistic energy into combating the depression she faced in the wake of her illness diagnosis. 

Her jewelry became an escape, Nicholl said.

“It was like therapy. It was something I could do to distract myself,” she said.

And while some of her jewelry was inspired by her previous travels, much of it is drawn from the world around her, including pieces made from the foothills of Monadnock. 

Each piece is selected carefully to emulate the colors of the mountain: White howlite brings to mind the easily recognizable white birch, while the dark green of aventurine represents the more common evergreens in between the beads that Nicholl hand-crafts from the local soil. 

It’s become therapy for Nicholl on more than one level, too. She’s partnered with the Moyer Foundation's Camp Erin program to create a special bracelet inspired by her father’s favorite hiking spots. Camp Erin is a free, nationwide camp for bereaved children. Nicholl, who lost her own father when she was young, has volunteered at the Boston Camp Erin for the past two years. A portion of the sales from the bracelets made in her father’s memory will go to support the camp. 

Nicholl said she wishes she had a similar resource when she was younger. But now, she helps those that find comfort in Camp Erin take a piece of it home with them, with worry stones made from Camp Erin sand. 

 

Making mountains

In the same way that Nicholl attempts to use color to invoke the feeling of the local landscape, Terrapin Glass in Jaffrey also takes their inspiration from the hues of local materials.

In their collection of glass pendants, Terrapin glass workers use pieces of different colored granite to transform colored glass into a New Hampshire landscape.

“Depending on the piece of granite, it might come to represent the rivers, the mountains, or the sky,” said Terrapin co-owner Anne Marie Caissie.

“I use the granite to its advantages,” said glass artist and flameworking instructor Jocelyn Brown of Peterborough. “In the beginning, I did a lot of looking at New Hampshire landscapes and trying to simplify them. Now, I tend to let the colors guide me.”

A light brown might become a sandy beach. A darker color, flecked with bright spots is transformed into a starry night sky. They’re popular pieces with tourists looking to take a piece of New Hampshire home with them, said Caissie. 

And while the granite gives inspiration to the artist, Terrapin gives back to the New Hampshire landscape by giving a portion of the proceeds from the pendant sales to the Monadnock Conservancy.

“We’re always looking for ways to give back to the community,” said Caissie. “We figured if these pieces were about New Hampshire, New Hampshire should benefit from them.”