C.K. McClatchy High School, Sacramento, 1968. The conundrum of what to wear was compounded by the fact that the event was my 50th high school reunion. YIKES! Yes!  50!  Back in the day, linked bracelets with collections of small precious charms were high style so I crafted a necklace that would evoke the memory of bygone times and serve as an amulet for a lucky future — something bright that would look up to date with a nod to the past. 


It is a thrill to be sorting through the mess of plastic and discover a real treasure. When the onslaught of plastic pollution seems unstoppable, the magic of transforming the idea of trash into something of value, keeps us going.

When I caught a glimpse of that piece of cord with the "beads" I remembered a necklace I had once seen at the MET — a string of Middle Kingdom faience beads circa 1295 BC. There was an uncanny resemblance of the strand of plastic covered cord that had gone brittle from exposure to sun and surf to the glazed beads of antiquity.

Faience Necklace

Faience Beads


The tiny black "pearls" from this chunk of foam are being strung into necklaces and bracelets. The repetitious movement of my hands as I slowly thread the small holes onto wire and cord is both mediation and making. Since I began this deconstruction, I have threaded together over 100 feet of strand. With 6 beads per inch or 1200 inches that is already 7200 beads. The lightweight, sturdy open cell foam (trade name EthaFoam) is used for cushioning and packing sensitive electronic equipment.  


!!! Come dressed as your favorite punctuation mark !!!
!!! Sip on "Exclamation" cocktails, wine and brews !!!
!!! Belly up to the delicious Tacolicious bar !!!

and celebrate the the 20th Anniversary of San Francisco Center for the Book. 

Since book people know how to party it up and they do know their fonts and fun I knew that there were be many creative costumes in keeping with the punctuation theme. I knew had to come up with an appropriate beach plastic something to make my point be it a comma, question mark, exclamation point, apostrophe, ampersand, hyphen, period.

Period that's it. I will go as a period. Maybe a bit cliched to wear a necklace ring of tampon applicators and call it "Period." But the response was both puzzled and enthusiastic. 

Several women of my generation did not recognize the source of the materials for my necklace, thought it was intended to represent exclamation points or maybe a ring of bullets or bombs. When I explained  "period" there was a moments pause, then great sighs of relief as they expressed how grateful they were to be post -menopausal. 65 is definitely the new 50.

Back in my (and their) day the tampon was composed of compressed paper, cotton batting and cardboard. Now the tampon, for so-called ease of use and comfort of insertion, is encased in a bullet shaped hard shell plastic cover. Yet another example of how plastic has literally and figuratively inserted itself into our lives.

Younger women recognized the source immediately and were astonished to learn that this feminine hygiene product is washing up onto beaches everywhere. From Kehoe Beach over the years we have collected hundreds of applicators in an variety of styles and in array of "feminine" colors: pink, green, perlescent. Wikipedia reports that the average woman uses approximately 11,400 tampons in her lifetime. Mama mia, that is a lot of plastic. 

My necklace, as punctuation, did make a point — about the problem of plastic pollution. Period.


Since 1999, my husband Richard Lang and I have collected ocean-born plastic debris exclusively from 1,000 yards of Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. 

Each necklace can be worn as jewelry, making an important and timely statement about plastic pollution. 

Each necklace can be displayed as a precious artifact, a relic of contemporary consumer culture.

Ivory Line
tiparillo tips, straws, shards and fragments

fragments of styrofoam packing trays, floats, coffee cups

tiparillo tips, fishing float foam

tiparillo tips, styrofoam chunks, 
baby binky backing and handle, shard of black 

Flip-flop Fandango
flip-flop sandle, float beads, fiberglas chunks

Double Loop of White
styrofoam packing trays, foam floats, 
straws, fiberglass chunks 

One Thing or Another
random assortment of small white pieces

glo sticks, fasteners, gaskets

shotgun shell sabots

golf ball husk, fishing floats, spice, shakers, globes, caps,
and many unidentifiable objects

Desert Foam
fragments of styrofoam packing trays, floats, coffee cups

Widening Gyre
over one hundred small pieces of plastic
ensnared in a wrap of brass wire

what goes up
20 SuperBalls
Super Balls are one of the rarest finds on the beach.
This necklace was years in the making.
Completed 2011.

Golden Globes
22 SuperBalls and plastic globes
Super Balls are one of the rarest finds on the beach.
This necklace was years in the making.
Completed 2011.

Orange you glad
SuperBall, deconstructed fishing float 

Super I           Going Out of Business
                                               sold                              sold

The Party's Over             Warm and Cool
                                                            sold                                  sold