Tuesday, November 22, 2016

La Vie en Sea Foam

For as long as I can remember I have had a strong affinity for the color sea foam. Of course what counts as "sea foam" falls into quite a range (after all, a foamy sea takes on many hues) – which is why you will see so many variations in this cabinet. Actual foam from the sea, to be honest, can be a bit gross, and so the name of the color beautifies and mystifies the sea in a charming, if not reductionist kind of way. 

My office window, with sea foam trim
I'm not sure exactly when sea foam became such a popular color. Ander shared some research he had done into Crayola history and found that they have only ever made a marker that was literally colored "sea foam" - otherwise, the company has called the color "sea green," "light green," and even "New York Lady Liberty." It seems maybe anyone's classification of the color is haphazard at best - which makes collecting it all the more whimsical, I suppose. 

Encountering and wearing sea foam in Hanoi, Vietnam
This playful little color drives my consumer habits (as the cabinet illustrates, I opt for the sea foam line of a product when I can). It drives the habits of my friends and family too - who gift me items that are sea foam as well, or contain a flicker of sea foam, like the wash rag featured in the cabinet that my mother knitted for me.
Sea foam salt and pepper shakers at the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand

If I travel, I am sure to take pictures of sea foam objects or landscapes. Writer Ellen Maloy wrote a book called the Anthropology of Turquoise (a close cousin of sea foam) in which she discusses the color's appearance and significance across various cultures. I suppose in collecting the color myself, I am interested in its emergences/reappearances across cultures, too.

A shelf of the sea foam bottles used by New Zealand colonists - Matahoke, New Zealand
But in the end, I think what's more interesting to me about this ongoing collection is the way that my affinity for the color has allowed me to notice mundane things in a new light. Sea foam helps me notice: objects, clothing, landscapes, doors, all sorts of things. So I strive to add it to my life, make room for it, take time to appreciate it, whenever I can.

Chicken perching on sea foam chair, painted by author

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