Lisl Armstrong

Lisl Armstrong of Out Of The Blue Sea Glass Jewelry.

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland in a household where creativity was encouraged. My father was German-Irish and my mother is Puerto Rican. Our home was filled with Puerto Rican artwork and I grew up associating Puerto Rico with art.

Originally I set out to become a ballet dancer and this took me on an adventure that has shaped and informed just about everything I do. I attended high school at the Baltimore School For The Arts where I majored in ballet. During my youth I spent summers studying either at the North Carolina School Of The Arts or in New York City with Melissa Hayden, who was one of the worlds greatest ballerinas. On any given morning the roster at the barre at Melissa's was made up of the who's who of the ballet world. Being in the company of such fame and legend allowed me to witness the power of process and discipline. Some of my favorite memories of that era are of Allegra Kent, a legendary Balanchine ballerina. She attended classes at Melissa Hayden's daily and would listen attentively as exercises where demonstrated and then once the music started she would proceed to do her own thing. In Allegra I saw a disciplined free spirit who was devoted to her work and this had and still has a tremendous impact on me. Immediately after graduating from high school I moved to Manhattan to pursue my dreams. In addition to ballet I also studied acting with Herbert Berghof. New York City was a wonderland for me where I took in as much as I could. I knew it was preparing me for something - I just didn't know what.

In 1987 my Puerto Rican grandmother sent me on a two week trip to visit my family in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. From Mayaguez I took a side trip to Rincon at night during what was either a full or nearly full moon. At that time the road into Rincon snaked through a jungle. This scene was enchanting. The jungle setting was brightly illuminated by moonlight and seemed otherworldly. Shortly after passing through the town I drove past what I would later learn was the surf break Tres Palmas. The moonlight was so bright that Desecheo, an offshore island, was visible. A soft nocturnal rainbow arched across the sea. The possibility of seeing a rainbow at night was something I never would have imagined.

The next day I returned to Rincon and secured room and board. The surf left piles of seashells and sea glass on the beach. To me it was if my ancestors were reaching through the waves and handing me vitreous bits of Puerto Rico's legacy. My return ticket expired a year later in a drawer at my aunt's house in Mayaguez. Rincon, Puerto Rico was the only place I had been to where I didn't long for the ballet or Manhattan. At that time Rincon was a poor mans paradise and a true backwater. I fell under the ether of the tropics and easily surrendered to the idea of living in the Caribbean and beachcombing for a living.

I don't remember the first piece of sea glass jewelry I made or the exact moment when I first started making sea glass jewelry but it was sometime early that first year. At that time there were already a few other artisans in Rincon that had been making sea glass jewelry on a limited basis since the 1960s. Their sea glass jewelry was made with bell caps or was wire wrapped. I chose to drill sea glass out of deference to them as I wanted to make sure that I did not make jewelry that was similar to theirs. I sold my jewelry from a table on the beach or by way of the coconut telegraph to the few tourists that came through. I was eventually offered a gallery space at The Lazy Parrot Inn in Rincon. The Lazy Parrot became home to Out Of The Blue Seaglass Jewelry for many years. Out Of The Blue Seaglass Jewelry is the oldest full time, large scale sea glass jewelry business that I know of.

I met my husband Ronnie, a Florida native, in Puerto Rico. We moved stateside in 2002 and we now live on the gulf coast of Florida. Ronnie is a surfer and our travels take us to remote surf spots where we beachcomb between swells. Ronnie has a better eye for sea glass than I do and usually finds the first piece.

Up until moving to the states I was self taught in jewelry making. Since moving stateside I have been taking wire working, cold joining and fabrication ( metalsmithing ) classes on an ongoing basis with Connie Fox, a renowned jewelry artist and teacher in San Diego. I have also taken a private fine silver jewelry making class with Barbara Becker Simon in Cape Coral, Florida. Connie and Barbara are amongst the world's best known jewelry teachers. Taking classes with these great jewelry artists and teachers is a magical, transformational experience. I love learning new things and exploring new ideas and techniques.