Of all of Stephen’s treasures, the Shell Lady was the most enchanting. I could hold her and just stare in wonder that such a beautiful lady could be created out of shells — shells that matched perfectly. I still can’t imagine how much time it took to match up the shells perfectly.
Shell Lady had a skirt that looked like a bustled Edwardian ballgown, made of some kind of fluttery shells of diminishing sizes as they reached her waist. Her bodice was was made of cockle shells, small side down, to give her a wasp waist. She had arms made of pipe cleaners, curled gracefully out before her. Her face was a smaller cockle, with a sweet bonnet of shells surrounding it. In one pipe cleaner arm, she holds a shell as if it were a tray; on it were the most tiniest, most delicate shells I’d ever seen, a wee nautilus, whelk, as well as a small pearl (though I’m sure the pearl wasn’t real). In the other had she holds a chiton fan as if she’d just paused from fanning her herself on a typical summer day. I think Shell Lady stood on another shell, larger, of course, with other shells at her feet.
To this day, every time I visit the beach, I find myself checking out the shops of artisans trying to find a Shell Lady of my own. My memories of her, and holding her while talking to Stephen, are still so close to my heart.