SEASIDE - She took an oyster shell, added some Swedish clay, paint, and sculpted her way to fame on an oyster shell.

For Deb Stoltenberg of Westport, Wash., the world is her oyster. She sees art in the ocean's leftovers turning them into a Santa Claus, a witch, a mermaid, a sea captain, a pirate or other creations she calls Oysterments.

Her Oysterments found their way to the White House a couple of years ago. And, two were selected by Cindy and Ed Hedlund (growers of the Christmas Tree) to hang on the Presidential Christmas tree. A photo of First Lady Hillary Clinton looking at her limited edition Mrs. Claus is framed on Stoltenberg's wall along with a thank you from Mrs. Clinton.

"'Finally something good you can do with an oyster shell,' people say when they realize what they're looking at," said Stoltenberg. "Sometimes it takes a second or third look before they realize what these are."

Turning oyster shells into a profitable business started by accident. "I wanted to make something for our relatives in the Midwest for Christmas," Stoltenberg said. "I wanted to make something that reflected our new home in the Northwest." The artist's gifts were such a hit with her family that others who saw them wanted one. Orders started coming in from small gift shops all over the country; so many in fact, that Stoltenberg turned her hobby into a full-time job. Each piece is original and numbered. Prices range from $13.50 to $60. Her business is called Oysterments of the Sea, and she sells them on the Internet via e-mail, and her Web site

Stoltenberg will be in Seaside the Friday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 1 at the Christmas Gift Fair, and the Tidefest at the Gig Harbor High School Dec. 7 and 8 where she will be displaying and selling her oyster shell art to the public.


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