North Carolina, North Carolina beaches, Topsail Beach

Topsail Beach Photos

When I went to Topsail Beach for a three night weekend (could it have been LAST weekend?), I stayed at the Breezeway Motel this time. It was in walking distance of Leslie’s home, and I didn’t drive anywhere the whole weekend. The Breezeway’s history goes back to the forties, but the current structure was built in 1972. In other words, it ain’t fancy but it was clean and comfortable. I asked for a room with a good view and I got it. The sunsets over the sound side were spectacular.


Here’s what it looked like in the morning.


I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in Leslie Marsh’s “Riveted by Nature” class. On Friday and Sunday nights I ate dinner at the Breezeway Restaurant. Fried shrimp the first time (Dale’s beats them by a mile, but it was still good) and bacon wrapped sea scallops the second time (YUM!). Saturday evening, my friends Barbara and Lou and I had cocktails in my room to watch the vibrant colors of this sunset, then went to Beach Shop Grill, which sounds like a burger joint, but is one of the most expensive restaurants on the island. We had a great time and the food was delicious. I ordered raw oysters and roasted brussels sprouts.



I walked on the beach on Sunday evening as the tide was coming in, with awareness of those back muscles I strained picking up limbs after Hurricane Ian! Topsail is such a great place to beachcomb that it was hard to stop. The next morning I slept late then headed back to the beach as it approached low tide. There were very few people on the beach and it was exquisitely isolated and full of the kind of stuff that I adore and most everyone else ignores, like fossils. The dunes are being replenished with sea oats, and there were many wildflowers and Monarch butterflies in the established dunes.


I picked up lots of sandstone with holes in them. My main focus when I beachcomb is worn shells with holes – in other words, natural beads. This time I also picked up some wood and coral, but I was drawn to texture. I felt close to my mother during this time, remembering the last time we walked on the beach and she pointed out shells for me to pick up and photos to take. It was one of the most enjoyable times I ever spent with her. She was in her late 80s then.


art, art retreats, book arts, dyeing, Nature printing, North Carolina beaches, Topsail Beach

Riveted by Nature on Topsail Island

Friday morning I set off on my own to drive to south Topsail Island, near Wilmington, North Carolina. I’ve been there a few times before, and the last few times I’ve been there to take a class from Leslie Marsh. This class was similar to one I’ve taken from her before, but this time we riveted a leather spine onto the soldered, stamped metal covers. We leaf printed the inside pages in a nature dye vat for the inside signatures, and bound them with a variation of longstitch.

Molten metal scares the crap out of me, otherwise I would fully embrace this technique! I enrolled in Leslie’s wearable metal book class during the pandemic, and I have all the supplies, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it without someone knowledgeable standing by. My first go on these covers were kind of pitiful, and I almost settled for them, but after I saw the other covers in the class, I went back to the soldering station and I resoldered and stamped the covers on my own, so, yay me!. I plan to find a cool bead or shell or other natural object to attach to the top of the spine. I liked this cabochon that Leslie provided because it reminded me of the little turtle I rescued earlier this month.


If I ever do this again with the rivets, I will not solder or stamp with a lot of texture on the sides next to the spine or anywhere else that the rivets go. That presented a problem for me in drilling and inserting the rivets. My drill kept slipping and my holes got wonky and I messed up the leather in places. I also dyed all my pages instead of inserting white pages in the signatures, which I think made the other text blocks pop after I saw them. Still, I’m quite happy with the result.

I didn’t follow directions very well this time either. I placed the cabochon at the top, so my leather binding had to be shaped differently. Plus I was ready to bind before everyone else so I did my binding a different way. HA. If you’d like to see the other books from the class, you can see them on Leslie Marsh’s Instagram page

The pages and the felt bag were dyed in Leslie’s dyepots by rolling them onto copper pipes with leaves and tightly binding the bundles to the pipes. One of my discoveries in this round was redbud leaves. Also, the leaves from my eucalyptus tree didn’t give the reddish oranges that the silver dollar eucalyptus leaves do. I wish I had used more of them. I didn’t get good definition on my wool felt so I’m going to embellish it with embroidery, and next time I am not going to bundle paper with it on the same pipe.




If you are interested in taking any of Leslie Marsh’s classes or buying her fabulous work (she is a multi-talented artist!), her website is  I must warn you that her classes sell out very quickly!

I’ll make another post for my other photos from Topsail Beach.