According to Kathleen Masterson, “everybody has a stone story,” whether people carry it with them in their purse or pocket, or have it on display in their home; “the stones mark a moment in time, or represent a special memory or place.”
A self-proclaimed wash ashore, Masterson moved to Cape Cod from the Catskill Mountains 27 years ago. Having summered on the Cape in her childhood, she knew the Cape to be beautiful and a great place to raise a family.
Her career in Medical Administration ended more than eight years ago, which is when she started making jewelry for friends and family for the holidays. Her initial designs featured gemstones and beads from around the world, but soon after she began working with beach stones, which she had always collected.
It took her three years to perfect her technique and hone her practice. Masterson doesn’t polish the stones, saying that “mother nature polishes them,” and she doesn’t put the stones in a drill press, instead she holds on to every stone herself.
Her signature piece, which she named ‘Heart of the Matter,’ features a small stack of stones (cairn) inside a larger stone with its middle carved out. “People are really drawn to [the design].”
Masterson creates a few new styles a year--“most new design ideas come from looking for new stones, and occasionally from suggestions from customers” Recently she started hammering silver and adding charms to complement the stones.
She says she “has to go to the beach twice a week to get her stones,” visiting beaches on the South Shore and the beaches on the bayside of the lower Cape. She looks for tiny stones for the cairns, uniquely shaped or colored stones, and small, flat stones. But she says, “I don’t find them, they find me.”
The first store to carry her jewelry was Mark August in Chatham. “They took a big chance on me,” she says, “and now they do really well with my product.”
Since then, her sales have expanded through word of mouth, craft shows and her website. Cape Cod Beach Stone Jewelry can now be found in 13 states, and Masterson’s dream of being in a shop in California was realized when she attended a wholesale show this past winter.
And although she loves interacting with people and customers at craft shows, she would like to increase her wholesale accounts--primarily out of state--in order to cut back on the number of shows she attends every year.
Masterson says that her life has changed for the better since she started making jewelry. She strongly believes that working with the stones has “made [her] a better person.” The only struggle she faces during her day at work is that she has to knock the sands out of her shoes.
Cape Cod Beach Stone Gallery can be found at the Beech Tree Gallery in Hyannis, The Lamb and Lion Inn in Barnstable, Details Cape Cod in Dennis, Gingie’s Boutique in South Yarmouth, the Left Bank Gallery in Orleans and Wellfleet, M. Brann in Mashpee, and online at www.kemdesigns.net.