A Passion for History and Sea Glass

Meet The Artist – Betty Kungle

Studio 12 is proud to feature Many Outer Banks artists in the gallery and studio.  Meet one of our favorite sea glass jewelry and sun catcher artists and class instructors Betty Kungle:

“I always knew from the time I was very young that I wanted to be an artist.  I can remember as a small child watching my Dad create beautiful pieces of work either in wood or photography and I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps.  I would listen to his stories over and over again of how as a young boy and then later a man would go out through the fields and caves of West Virginia in search of history and bring back treasured pieces of the past.  I still have a few.” Betty Kungle

The love of history and art was instilled in Betty from an early age; little did she know it would all come together someday as a passionate profession.  Betty grew up in Akron Ohio and attended the University of Akron Ohio, where she studied art and history and took archeology classes.  “I would have been an archeology major, says Betty, but in those days (the 1960’s) women weren’t allowed to go on archeology digs, so I switched my major to art and minored in archeology.  But that fascination with things from the past never left Betty and although she did not participate in digs then the eye for finding the rare and historical is still a part of her.

Sun Catcher by Betty Kungle

Betty began going to the outer banks with her parents as a teenager and fell in love with the place instantly.  Later,  Betty and her husband  would take their vacations on Hatteras Island; each year extending them a little longer until they made the move to permanently become an islanders in 1995.

During their weekly excursions in the Pamlico Sound to find Clams and oysters for dinner, Betty and her husband found small pieces of old bottles from the 1800’s along with beautiful glass and very old pottery.  “They fascinated me , Betty says, so I began collecting all the pieces I could and stored them in 5 gallon buckets.  My husband would always ask me, what you are going to do with those.  I would always say I don’t know, but I know they are meant to be something.” Then one day the design for Betty’s sun catchers came together.  She wove the pieces of history she found on the shores of the Pamlico Sound and Ocean together with copper, each and every one with its own story to tell of the past, beautiful pieces of glass and pottery from 50 to 150 years ago. She utilized her archeology training to date her findings. Each sun catcher has its own card telling dates and what the treasures found on the beach might have been long ago.  

Of course during Betty’s beach walks she found sea glass on the ocean beaches and was inspired by them, the range of colors, soft to bold and the history of what each piece might have been.  Betty says “Each and every piece seems to talk to me as if I’m holding my own little time machine in my hands.  Sometimes when I find that beautiful little gem lying on the sand nestled among the shells, I know immediately what it will become and how my design will be for that piece.  Just to think they could have come from the many shipwrecks that scatter our shores each with its own story to tell.  I can’t wait to take those walks on the beach with the anticipation of what may be there waiting to be found”.  Finding a piece of the ex rare black glass knowing that it could have from a shipwreck and that it is from the 1700’s to early 1800’s and that she might be the first person to have held it since the day it was tossed into the sea is what keeps Betty going back to the beach despite any weather conditions.  Betty says, “One day I was so absorbed sifting through a shell bed that I was knocked over by a wave and tumbled through the sand.  That taught me a good lesson to never turn your back on the ocean!”

 Betty has kept her sights on the ocean ever since finding rare and beautiful treasures that she transforms into unique and wonderful works of art.  “I love my job as an artist, it’s a passion and it all started from those special times with my Dad.”  Betty says that she hopes people love her designs, both the fascinating sun catchers and the beautiful pieces of sea glass to wear which will always remind them of the beauty and history we have here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.”

Student shows off bracelet from Betty’s class

Learn how to make your own beautiful piece of sea glass jewelry or a sun catcher during one of Betty’s workshops at Studio 12.Betty teaches classes every Friday from the beginning of April through November.  Check out our web page and register for a class online today! www.studio12hatteras.com

 

 

 

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